Food Halls Expanding Across Canada, Including a 1st in Ottawa

By Mario Toneguzzi

Hy’s Steakhouse was an iconic eating establishment for many years in Ottawa. Now the nation’s capital is set to welcome another iconic food concept at the site where Hy’s once existed.

The Queen St. Fare, set to open on December 7, is a 10,000-square-foot licenced food hall, with a stage for live events, in downtown Ottawa at the Sun Life Financial Centre, 170 Queen Street.

The food hall was conceptualized, curated and leased by Toronto-based Beauleigh Retail Leasing Consultants.

  Interior Rendering of stage behind the performing stage. Photo:    Queen Street FaRe Website

Interior Rendering of stage behind the performing stage. Photo: Queen Street FaRe Website

“When Sun Life decided to renovate their property, and the old Hy’s Steakhouse space, they came to us because we work across the country conceptualizing retail environments” said JF Nault, Partner and COO of Beauleigh. “We were already working on several food halls around the country and were excited about this opportunity and thought this one would be perfect.”

“A food hall should not look like a food court. And the design in this case is more industrial chic.”

Beauleigh worked with Bentall Kennedy and Sun Life Financial to create the vision and to curate and lease Ottawa's first food hall. The curation of tenants was led by Taylor Borg, Director of Development at Beauleigh. The food hall is fully licenced and independent driven with all local operators.

It consists of six food counters and one central bar. The seven establishments operating out of the food hall will be: Bar Robo; Green Rebel; Fiazza Fresh Fired; SEN Kitchen; Mercadito; Capitol Burger Counter; and Q Bar. More information about the establishments can be found here: https://www.queenstfare.ca

“With the evolution of food and the rise of foodies in the form of Millennials, what has happened over primarily the last five years, in Canada, is this appreciation for real food as opposed to what you would find in food courts and that has spawned this whole new food hall concept,” said Marcelle Rademeyer, President and CEO of Beauleigh.

“It’s a communal place where people go to sample real food from mostly independent operators - they’re not chains. Food halls resulted from the consumers’ desire to experience real food, authentic food, produced by independent local operators which are more chef driven. They’re sourcing local product and organic in some cases. 

The focus is having a cool atmosphere, preferably communal tables and importantly alcohol. So it becomes a real destination. Not just a place where you go for lunch or to grab a quick bite. In fact, people can hang out there with friends, family.”

Nault said Beauleigh is working on four other food hall type concepts across the country in Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and a fresh market in Toronto at Union Station.

“The thing with the food hall is that it’s not cookie cutter,” said Rademeyer. “It’s not like you take a format that consists of 12 tenants or 15 tenants and take it across the country and do the same thing. It really has to be localized for the market that it’s in. So it’s completed curated.

“For example, Eataly which we also did at Manulife Centre (in downtown Toronto), opening in 2019, is a single operator - an Italian-focused food hall. It’s 50,000 square feet. Food halls will vary in size and they will vary in number of tenants. Most have an alcohol offering. It just depends on the market.”

   Eataly at Manulife Centre    In Toronto. Photo: Eataly

Eataly at Manulife Centre In Toronto. Photo: Eataly

   TimeOut at Montreal Eaton Centre   . RENDERING: TIME OUT/IVANHOÉ CAMBRIDGE.

TimeOut at Montreal Eaton Centre. RENDERING: TIME OUT/IVANHOÉ CAMBRIDGE.

Rademeyer said it is revolutionizing the way people will view food and entertainment.

“It’s not just a place where you go to eat. It’s really a place where you go to socialize, eat, hang out, have meetings. And it’s seven days a week,” she said.

There is also sometimes flexibility in the design to include an event component to hold events at the food hall.

“It really depends on where it is, what it is, what the market dictates it should be,” said Rademeyer. 

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com

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