Columbus, Ohio, the test market capital, to open 1st food hall

The restaurant test marketer's dream city of Columbus, Ohio will soon house the city's first-ever food hall in the 102-year-old Budd Dairy building in the Italian Village near downtown. This particular food hall — one of more than 100 either up and running or under construction nationally — is focused squarely on entrepreneurial, chef-driven concepts and is expected to open this winter under the leadership of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants or CMR, a news release said. 

The Budd Dairy Food Hall will house eight to 10 such concepts, with Columbus-area developer, Kevin Lykens, handling the real estate, while CMR leads the selection of what it calls "artisan restaurant operators," a news release said. CMR will also manage the hall and providing related services to keep it running successfully. 


The North Fourth Street building was constructed in 1916, according to the county auditor. Lykens Companies also has loft-style apartments in another structure about a half-mile away, according to Columbus's Business First newsite.

"The Budd Dairy Food Hall will position other new restaurateurs to realize their potential, which allows me to pay the generosity from our community forward to a new generation of entrepreneurs," CMR founder Cameron Mitchell, said in the release.

CMR said in its media materials related to the new hall that in the next year-and-a-half, 140 food halls are up and running or will be built in the U.S. The trend is intimately connected to the bevy of brands springing out of a new entrepreneurial movement nationally and the ease and sometimes lower cost of digital promotion, communication and branding. 

"Food halls are among the most popular, innovative ways to allow dining consumers to actively engage in their food experience, and the Budd Dairy Food Hall will be the first of this scale in the region," CMR Vice President of Development Steve Weis said in the release. "By providing in one venue an opportunity for guests to choose among multiple, artisan food shops, instead of choosing just one restaurant, and then combining it with a strong beverage program, entertainment and flexible, on-trend spaces to enjoy food and drink, the food hall will be a vibrant destination for residents and visitors alike."

Food halls — which have been for about as long as restaurateuring — are well-suited to the current millennial market of adventurous eaters forever in search of the new and different. Likewise, halls can act as so-called business incubator stages for emerging brands at relatively lower costs of operation and risk than traditional restaurant construction. 

The structure for the Columbus hall provides more than 14,000 square feet and a rooftop deck. Level one with 11,000 square feet contains the main bar, seating and food vendors, as well as a performance stage. The second floor will focus more heavily on entertainment, with a smaller bar, interactive games and the option of reserving the entire space for private events catered by the food hall's food vendors. 

"This spectacular project fulfills our dream of empowering unique, up-and-coming food artisans to grow their businesses in a positive, high-energy venue with the oversight and hospitality experience of our Cameron Mitchell Restaurants team," Mitchell said. "The Budd Dairy Food Hall also leverages the unparalleled national excitement of food halls to attract young urban professionals and visitors alike to one of the fastest-growing areas of our city."

Food vendors who hope to secure one of those "eight to 10 spots" should apply at 

Photo: From CMR website

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Customer Service / Experience, Food & Beverage, Franchising & Growth

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