News release

So you want to build a food hall?

JLL releases new retail research highlighting what’s needed to establish a great food hall

August 06, 2019

Chicago, August 6, 2019 – JLL today released its latest retail research report, “So you want to build a food hall?” This report highlights everything it takes to build a great food hall experience, a trend that’s currently exploding throughout the country. While some may assume a food hall isn’t much different than the standard food court, this report shows building a food hall is a much more in depth undertaking.

“With the growing popularity of food halls, it’s important for developers to consider a variety of important factors so they create a space that truly appeals to the surrounding community,” said Taylor Coyne, Research Manager at JLL Retail. “It’s easy to misunderstand what makes Food Halls different from traditional mall food courts, which is what inspired us to make this handy guide for potential food hall developers.”

The report is broken down into a series of questions, with the main categories outlined briefly below:

Selecting the right Operator

The report gives potential food hall developers a comprehensive look at what’s required to build a great food hall, with case studies featuring successful concepts from around the United States. For instance, the report asks, “would you prefer to open a multi-vendor operated food hall like Politan Row in Chicago which has a mix of nine local restaurants curated by Politan Group? Or, would you prefer your food hall to be run by a true tenant operator, like Eataly’s global platform, which has multiple stalls all run by the operator?”

Curating your Brand Identity

Another important factor to consider when opening a food hall is brand identity. For instance, the report breaks down food halls into four over-arching brand types; the traditional marketplace, the incubator, the convenience market, and the community-focused food hall. These broad classifications were created to help guide developers as they think about the number and type of vendors they want to have at their food hall. For example, Rock Row, one of the food halls used as a case study in the report, falls under the community-focused category. The developers of Rock Row designed the location around Portland, Maine’s large craft brewery community and history, focusing on designing a space that has tasting rooms and bars where local brewers can showcase their products to a wider audience, providing a great opportunity to scale their businesses.

Designing for Success

While a food halls brand identity will drive most of the design, it’s important for developers to consider key factors such as community space, outdoor components, vendor stall customization, and delivery options. A community focused food hall like Rock Row focuses their food hall design around local bars and breweries where as Urbanspace has cultivated an overall brand identity in their food halls while still allowing their vendors to maintain their own unique brand image.

Finding the Right Vendor Mix

Of course, one can’t forget about the food itself. The right food vendor mix is essential to building a truly successful food hall, as it will influence the overall nature and ambiance of the space. But operators need to consider whether to work with established brands or local chefs looking to establish their own brand. When curating a list of vendors, the report lists key questions operators should consider: Do you have back-ups if your first choices aren’t interested? Of those tenants you’re looking to work with, who’ll be your anchor tenant? Once the list is set, there are additional things to determine, like how should the vendor leases be structured? The report dives into these important topics and other pressing questions all potential food hall developers should carefully consider before build-out begins.

To download the full report, please click here.

 At JLL, we are passionate about retail. We deliver great experiences for shoppers – from high streets to shopping malls. As the leading third-party retail service provider, we have access to more than 1,960 centers totaling 160 million square feet under management, for lease and/or sale. Our more than 950 retail experts spanning over 40 markets, support 1,585 clients by delivering management solutions, restructuring or renewing leases and debt, providing disposition or investment strategies and/or evolving retail space to keep pace with the ever-changing consumer. See how we’re helping our clients achieve their ambitions, and subscribe to the Where We Buy podcast series for real talk on the trends impacting retail. 

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.3 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of over 91,000 as of March 31, 2019. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit