Food halls—where people can find a variety of food purveyors and gather for an informal meal on the fly—have been around since the 1980s. Traditionally, food courts have been fixtures at shopping malls or large transit hubs where shoppers or travelers can grab a quick bite from well-known food vendors or restaurant chains.
Today, though, the concept of a culinary hub is more local and offers more sophisticated food choices. It is also designed as a community gathering place to sit and stay, perhaps to share a meal with friends, rather than a gulp-and-go convenience stop.
The new version is rapidly gaining steam, with food halls popping up in communities large and small. In 2021, there were 360 food halls identified across the U.S., with 127 more under development.
In this article, we explore some of the drivers behind this trend and highlight four diverse examples of new or soon-to-open food hall concepts across the state.