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Food Halls, Not Cafeterias: New Trend Catching On In Orlando, Other Major Cities

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Americans love convenience: it’s no surprise that this fondness for accessibility would work its way into our favorite restaurants. Florida has embraced this concept with open arms, following the lead of other states who have jumped on the bandwagon: using food halls.

But this is no cafeteria; these food halls have sprung up in major cities across the country, including the likes of Chicago, New York City, Detroit, Seattle, and even Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

But what is a food hall?

Garrick Brown, Cushman and Wakefield’s national retail research director, says it may have a profound effect on the scope of the restaurant industry.

He describes the food hall trend as “…a combination of prepared food vendors in a small space that share a large common space.”

It’s a perfect option for locals and tourists who want to try a diverse array of options at once.  

When Floridians already have access to nearly 40,000 restaurant and beverage options throughout the state, the acceptance of the food hall trend can offer a slew of these options in just one place.

Orlando was one of the first locations to jump on board. The first successful food hall was the East End Market, a smaller collection of food stalls under the management of one operation. The hall is scheduled to celebrate their fifth anniversary this year. Universal Studios also plans to stake its claim in the trend by opening its “Urban Pantry” food hall to serve its customers in the Aventura hotel set to open in August.

Meanwhile, locations like Miami have put an even bigger emphasis on this trend. The city has devoted a 40,000-square-foot building that even offers culinary classes.  

This opportunity hasn’t been lost on northerly states, however. Detroit business, Larson Realty, already has planned to invest $30 million into food hall-inspired development program on Michigan Avenue in the fall.

So, why all the hubbub regarding food halls now? Apparently, they’ve been a staple in European and Asian countries for centuries, but have only sparked interest in the United States within the last 10 years or so.

The life of luxury is hard to ignore. Nowadays, more Americans than ever rely on online sources to purchase their groceries; nearly 36% of Americans plan to shop online, an increase of 22% from 2017.

Americans love the luxury of selecting from multiple options with ease. Unlike food trucks, a big trend that’s recently quieted over the course of the last few years, Orlando Weekly notes the importance of an indoor space for culinary euphoria.

“Food halls satisfy the desire to flit from dish to dish like a honeybee in a garden, while protecting your precious banh mi or ice cream sandwich from the elements,” claims writer Lindsey Thompson.  

Americans are using credit and debit cards at an unprecedented rate. In 2015 alone, nearly 70 billion transactions were made through the use of debit cards. Food halls make variety, payment, and travel an easy option for local foodies trying to expand their palettes.

While it’s unknown if food halls will be coming to a town near you, it’s likely that this trend won’t be going anywhere. As more investors continue to pour money into the newest venture on the block, you might just be able to find your new favorite food.

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