Can this new food hall redefine the food court?
Is there a distinction between the two or can they both thrive regardless of where they’re located?
High-end restaurants are often the places where you can find innovative dishes, quality ingredients, and elevated dining experiences. But, the limited options and the premium prices of these restaurants have driven customers away to choose more casual yet equally sophisticated food halls instead. Aside from having the plethora of options, these food halls are located in pleasant and appealing environments ideal for various gatherings.
Because of these, a food hall is sometimes confused with a food court. Since both are establishments that house varying brands and dishes and serve various customers, is it safe to assume that the two are the same?
For Charlie Paw of Tasteless Food Group, the distinction lies in the authenticity of the dish. “Sobrang magkalapit lang sila, but for me, food halls focus more on the quality of the food. It’s high-quality food done by chefs, but in a food court setting.” Paw’s food group is behind the Hole in the Wall at Century City Mall and The Grid, a sophisticated food hall that just opened at Power Plant Mall in Rockwell.
What’s interesting with The Grid is the subtle branding of each stall to put more emphasis on the food, in contrast with Hole in the Wall’s heavy branding. “Usually, everyone’s trying to be unique with their food but in the end wala kang mapiling kainin. These so-called “Instagrammable” places will never last in the long run. Here, every stall will have an option that everyone will be familiar with. The menu is 70% basic and 30% whatever the chefs decide.”
Paw figured that Hole in the Wall wasn’t exactly designed for the high-end market of Rockwell, so it was a good opportunity for his group to establish a food hall to cater to this market. With the help of KM Design Manila (Hydra Design Group), they kept the design of the food hall clean and straightforward, but with an added touch of sophistication. “The place had to suit Rockwell. It’s more minimalist, because one of the lessons we learned by doing other restaurants was that an establishment doesn’t have to be flashy to attract customers.”
While Paw doesn’t call himself an expert on running businesses, he observes that the location and the kind of food served will determine whether your food court or food hall will survive. “Sa food court kasi alam mong mabilisan lang ang gawa and it’s cheap. If you want quality food but don’t want to be restricted in a restaurant, then go to a food hall.” Food halls are also ideal locations for chefs to showcase their expertise, and Paw makes sure that the chefs he works with know how to set their food apart from food court dishes. “But the food still has to be approachable and there should be something for everyone, so it’s not as intimidating.”
The Grid opens today at Level R2, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City.