We talked about food halls a lot in 2017 and we're going to talk about them even more in 2018. Why? Because they're community centers, they're a smart use of urban space, and they're a lower risk investment for first-time or expansion-minded entrepreneurs. So for our first Metro Crush Monday we've picked Los Angeles, a city with a lot to recommend it, and in particular we're looking at Grand Central Market in the heart of Downtown LA.
This 30,000 sf market has been in operation since 1917 (not quite as old as Findlay Market which opened in 1852 but just as storied). Originally host to a mix of produce vendors, butchers and fishmongers the market has been home for every new wave of Angeleno immigrant community. As communities developed businesses prospered in the market supplying the new demand for traditional ingredients. In doing so, each wave of immigration has fundamentally changed the American culinary landscape, with a lot of those changes beginning in Central Market.
Similarly, the market continues to produce food that goes on to influence not just the Californian palate but the nation's (see the OZY article below on Eggslut for just one superstar example).
Grand Central's latest iteration came about in 2013 when the vision of the its controlling interests shifted to up-and-coming chefs and restaurateurs who could use the space as an incubator. The resulting mix of old school taquerias and spice stores cohabiting with superstar newcomers has been a massive success in a part of the city that has been undervalued until a recent rash of investment and development.
Grand Central Market is a testament to the benefits of the kind of compact urban spaces that give restaurant newcomers the financial and creative space to thrive. Its resurgence in popularity speaks to new consumer trends in eating and urbanism. From Los Angeles to Dallas to San Francisco Airport food halls are a bigger and bigger part of the conversation about how we eat out now and that won't be changing soon.
In part two of MCM: LA we'll talk about the intersection of public art and retail signage.
Learn more about Grand Central Market and some of its residents here:
The 5 Most Interesting Vendors at Grand Central Market Right Now - LA Weekly, July 29 2017
The Hot 10 2014 - Bon Appetit
The Eggslut Genius Takes Los Angeles - OZY, January 3 2018
Grand Central Market's Instagram