CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Food halls are growing in popularity and more have been opening up in North Carolina since the onset of the pandemic. 

What You Need To Know

  • Food halls feature local restaurants and food concepts, offering open co-working space and often community events

  • At least 10 food halls have opened or are in the development stage in the state since March 2020

  • Restaurants can test out their business without the same commitments as opening a full brick and mortar location

Since March 2020, at least 10 food halls have opened or are in the development stage in North Carolina. Food halls are like food courts, featuring about a dozen local restaurants or food concepts, a bar and open seating that doubles as a venue for community events. 

Data collected by Cushman & Wakefield shows that 321 food halls are operating across the county. Another 145 are being developed, meaning the number of food halls is expected to increase by 45% in the coming years.

Urban District Market in Charlotte opened in April 2023. The food hall has a bar, 10 open food stalls with four more on the way, and an experimental station for outside restaurateurs to come in and test their products. 

"[It's for] people who want to get into the restaurant industry who don't have the means to get into the restaurant industry, to be able to try out their concept," Timothy Chun with Urban District Market said. "If they can make it work here, then hopefully they can upscale it and become the next Shake Shack." 

Edmar Simoes is a kitchen manager at Urban District Market. Prior to working at the food hall, he worked at steak houses and smokehouses. 

"It's a big difference in the amount of people. And the restaurant is a small kitchen, and here is massive," Simoes said. 

Food halls offer several food options in one space, creating opportunities for foot traffic and exposure to customers who may not have otherwise seen the restaurant. 

Durham Food Hall, S&W Market in Asheville and Craften Neighborhood Food & Drink are some of the ones in our state that have opened in the past three years.

Monarch Market in Charlotte is expected to open this fall. Craften Neighborhood Food & Drink announced a new food hall is coming to Clayton soon.