Food Halls Fight ‘Decision Fatigue’

The Wall Street Journal: “As ambitious food halls open in more urban buildings, developers are trying to make it easier for visitors to navigate pricey stalls and vendors without feeling paralyzed by all the choices. They’re tweaking food hall layouts to incorporate bar seating overlooking open-concept kitchens, nixing larger food-court-era tables and simplifying hip menus … Some are opting for a calmer look—and sound—to help battle what the trade calls ‘decision fatigue’.”

“When opening St. Roch Market, a New Orleans food hall, in 2015, Will Donaldson insisted the same signage be used for each vendor. Instead of music coming from individual stalls, he keeps a central music playlist to cut down on extra noise. An employee appears at each table to bring water and offer a clipboard with all of the offerings. Then visitors get up to find their food. Without a clear, streamlined guide, ‘people can get confused and subconsciously shut down,’ says Mr. Donaldson.”

“Developers are implementing plans that make turnover simpler, too. At Legacy Hall, vendors aren’t asked to sign a commercial lease. Each side can break off the deal at any time … Operators of Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market realized they needed more ability to switch out underperforming vendors by creating only ‘bare-bones’ design.”

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