It was about four years ago that we told you media company Time Out wanted to get into the food hall business. It launched a test in Lisbon, Portugal, and now say a food hall is ready to roll out in Miami first, followed by New York, Boston, Chicago and Montreal.
Time Out’s food hall model is designed to become a destination. And with its media fueling the buzz, it's a powerful combination that could propel it to a global food hall player. Time Out publishes dining and entertainment guides in 108 cities in 39 countries with a monthly audience of 217 million.
Time Out’s food hall in Lisbon is more than 70,000 square feet and welcomed 3.6 million visitors in 2017. It had 1.9 million visitors in the first half of 2018 alone, an increase of 12% year over year, said Didier Souillat, Time Out Market CEO. The Lisbon market is also larger than many planned U.S. halls; Miami's is just 17,500 square feet. The market will be cashless and food will be served on “proper china,” with glassware and silverware, he said.
As we first reported, another unique twist is that the editors of the food guides in each city have input in selecting the vendors that go into the Time Out Markets so the “best players” that represent the local dining scene are selected, Souillat said.
Food hall growth is expected to skyrocket here in the U.S., and the timing for Time Out is perfect and very chef-friendly: The chef-restaurateurs are invited to open an outlet in the food hall for one year, which is renewable, in exchange for a percentage of sales.
“We actually make the deals with the chefs very simple, where we ask them to come in with an order taker, a couple of chefs, pots and pans and six or eight items for the menu that represents them well,” Souillat said. “We take care of everything else.”
It's a good model for grocerants to explore.