By Craig Patterson
A 40,000 square foot food market has opened at Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, just north of Toronto, featuring 20 best-in-class local merchants and first-to-market eateries that enhance the overall shopping centre experience. The food market is called ‘Market & Co.’ and it’s the first of several planned large-format multi-vendor food and beverage centres by landlord Oxford Properties.
It’s also the first such market in a premium shopping centre in Canada, according to Oxford Properties. "Market & Co. at Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, represents Oxford Properties' ongoing investment and commitment to delivering innovative retail, entertainment and food experiences at our shopping centres,” said Bradley Jones, Head of Retail, Oxford Properties.
The expansive food market’s square footage was made possible by taking some of the former space that was once occupied by Target in the mall (Target exited Canada in 2015). Included is a diverse culinary experience with a mix of food vendors and eateries, including full-service restaurants. Local vendors are part of the mix and some of them have opened their very first retail locations at Market & Co.
The list of vendors include: Bake Three Fifty, FloralEscence, Humble Roots Organic, Ma’s Best Quality Soups, Newmarket Olive Oil, Our Farm Organic Bakery, Pier 87 Fish Market & Grill, Ray Woodey’s Craft Chippery, Seed to Sausage Meatery, Sweet Jesus ice cream, The Wine Shop and Tasting Room, and Village Juicery.
A unique concept called First Batch, which is a collaboration between BRIKA and FoodiePages launched its pop-up collective featuring pantry essentials, table and barware and unique hostess gifts, all crafted by more than 60 emerging and independent makers.
Three full-service restaurants, including Canada’s first MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company (based in Los Angeles), Union Chicken (Chef Michael Angeloni’s celebrated Toronto, spit-fired, rotisserie chicken eatery), and Amano Kitchen (a seasonally inspired Italian restaurant also developed by Chef Michael Angeloni).
"The atmosphere at Market & Co. combines the nostalgia of traditional outdoor food markets and the bustling vibe of an inviting, premium shopping centre environment," said Bri-Ann Stuart, Director & General Manager, Upper Canada. "We invite the community to explore Market & Co. with its 20 premium food brands and merchants."
Giannone Petricone Associates Inc. Architects designed the innovative new space. Ralph Giannone, Principal at the firm, expressed his enthusiasm for the project which is a cross between restaurant and retail, as the lines blur between the two. Amano Kitchen, for example, also sells pasta while Union Chicken retails some of its own products for visitors to take home. Mr. Giannone said that he thinks food markets like Market & Co. will become an anchor-like component to many of Canada’s leading malls in the future, and Giannone Petricone Associates is already working with Oxford Properties on two other projects, not to mention the highly anticipated Eataly that will be opening at Toronto’s Manulife Centre early next year.
Mississauga-based BUILT IT by Design was responsible for building-out the MidiCi space, which is particularly unique in terms of its overall design and filtering. Gold penny tiles were installed on the Italian pizza ovens, for example, and the colour gold carries throughout the space with expanses of gold wallpaper tile installed around columns (lit with LED lights) as well as a feature wall of gold tiles. A front counter is made of fibreglass featuring an LED baseboard, and there’s a white custom curved stone countertop. One of the most unique features, notes BUILD IT by Design, is a large tree that sits in the centre of the restaurant.
One of Market & Co.’s highlights is ’Kitchen & Co.’, a built-in demonstration kitchen that can host regular events, pop-ups and workshops that will educate visitors as well as inform them about local market merchants.
Upper Canada Mall houses more than 200 stores in an enclosed centre which spans nearly a million square feet. Many popular national and international brands can be found in the mall, which is anchored by Hudson’s Bay. The centre includes nearly 5,000 parking spaces and sees more than eight million visitors annually, and is one of the country’s most productive shopping centres in terms of annual sales per square foot, according to Retail Council of Canada.
Market & Co. is the first of three announced large-format food markets to open its doors in a mall owned by Oxford Properties. In March, the landlord announced that Les Galeries de la Capitale in Quebec City would be adding an innovative food marketplace that will also feature the second location for RICARDO Boutique + Café. As well, Oxford Properties announced that it would be creating a ‘Food District’ at its massive Square One property in Mississauga. Both will open in 2019.
Large-format food markets are being added by other landlords as well. Last week Ivanhoé Cambridge announced that it was opening a new 35,000 square foot ‘gourmet biergarten’ at its Place Ville Marie property in downtown Montreal, which will be a second in the downtown core for the landlord after it announced in the spring that it had partnered to open a Time Out Marketplace that will be part of an overhauled Montreal Eaton Centre. Landlord QuadReal has also announced that it will be opening large-format food concepts at its Oakridge Centre property in Vancouver, as well as at ‘The Post’ in downtown Vancouver which replaces a former Canada Post distribution centre.
Landlords are ultimately using food and beverage offerings to drive traffic to properties — consumers are increasingly seeking-out ‘experiences’ and a diverse food market, with the right tenants (including ‘Instagramable moments’) will keep customers coming back. The theory is that repeat visits to a food destination will also translate into increased foot traffic from visitors that might shop at other retail in the same area as well.