The name says it all.
When it opens this fall at Rosedale, Revolution Hall has all the makings of a, well, revolutionary new chapter in shopping mall dining.
Rather than rehashing Taco John’s, Dairy Queen, Long John Silvers, Subway and Cinnabon around a bleak seating area, the Roseville shopping center has tapped New York City-based Craveable Hospitality Group, which operates restaurants in Manhattan, Connecticut and Aspen, Colo., to reinvent a former bookstore into a one-of-a-kind collection of dining and drinking establishments.
Yes, a food hall.
“Instead of having multiple tenants operating independently of one another, we’re going to create and operate all 13 concepts,” said Matthew O’Neill, Craveable’s vice president of culinary. “It has been two years in the making, if not more, and it’s the first of many for our company.”
What’s a food hall? They’re all the rage across the country. Think of the 12-year-old Midtown Global Market (920 E. Lake St., Mpls., midtownglobalmarket.org), the bazaar-like collection of non-chain food-and-drink vendors, all gathered under one roof.
The metro area’s splashiest example, Keg and Case Market (928 W. 7th St., St. Paul, kegandcase.com), is set to open Sept. 14, with about two dozen all-local tenants occupying about 30,000 square feet in the former Schmidt Brewery complex.
Another is set to open next year in the lower level of the Dayton’s Project (700 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., thedaytonsproject.com). No tenants have been announced for the 40,000-square-foot space, which is being pulled together by chef Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” fame.
Developers Patricia and John Wall want to create the Malcolm Yards Market, a 10-vendor market organized around a central bar, as part of a mixed-use development in Minneapolis’ Prospect Park neighborhood. The Walls hope to open the market portion of the project next year, restoring the former Harris Machinery Co. warehouse.
Notice a pattern? None are in the suburbs. That’s a significant reason why Craveable finds Rosedale so appealing.
“These suburban markets are really attractive,” said O’Neill. “As people become more educated about food, they’re starting to realize that great food isn’t just downtown.”
There’s an app for that
O’Neill, who has overseen the hall’s development, is a shining example of a chef channeling his fine-dining experience into the mainstream. He spent six years in chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant empire, then cooked at the top-rated Little Nell in Aspen, Colo. The project’s director of operations, chef Kevin Krejsa, has a résumé that mixes high-end dining (at Coi, San Francisco’s critic-magnet) with high volume (culinary services for Six Flags amusement parks). He expects to manage a staff of about 200 people.
Efficiencies will be built-in at every opportunity, in both the front and the back of the house.
Convenience is key. Every concept will include some kind of quick grab-and-go feature.
“People have come to expect good food, but they want it quickly,” said O’Neill. “We’re taking the mentality behind the full-service restaurant — the hospitality, the quality, the creativity — and we’re speeding it up. Speed is the revolution. Hence, Revolution Hall.”
Each concept will have its own kitchen, but they’ll be supplemented by a central commissary (“We’ll have one place for tasks like chopping onions,” said O’Neill), and ordering takes place at the counter, reducing the need for expensive wait staff.
Diners will also be able to order using the hall’s phone app, as well as from kiosks located throughout the mall and scattered throughout the food hall.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for guests,” said O’Neill.
A concierge counter will act as a centrally located pickup spot for diners who want to order from multiple stations but retrieve from a single spot. Another streamlining strategy? Revolution Hall will also be one of Minnesota’s first cashless dining environments, with one exception.
“We’ll probably have the ability to purchase gift cards in cash,” said O’Neill.
A wide range of dining options
The hall, currently a busy construction project, sprawls over 32,000 square feet on two floors, connected via escalator and elevator. The first floor — which is Rosedale’s upper level — will have a more daytime feel.
Steel Tree Coffee — so named because of the 50-foot metal tree that rises from the floor and up through a circular cutout in the ceiling, to the hall’s second floor — will anchor the mall entrance.
PieCaken Bakeshop will feature a showy open kitchen.
“It’s a way to showcase that everything we serve on the premises is made from scratch,” said O’Neill. “We’re not hiding anything. We want to say, ‘Look what we’re producing.’ ”
Field Greens will feature salads, fresh-pressed juices and smoothies.
Other main-floor tenants will include a general store/flower shop, Angry Taco & Tequila Bar (street tacos and a long tequila roster), Honeycomb Waffle (a chicken-and-waffles outfit “where waffles are the bread,” said O’Neill), Handwich Shop (specializing in palm-size sandwiches) and Caputo Pizzeria.
Upstairs, the layout will include Oceantail Sushi and Sake Bar (sushi, poke bowls, sushi burritos), Barrel Bar (a bourbon-centric gathering spot), Saltbrick (burgers — featuring beef that’s dry-aged on the premises — and shakes) and Canal Street Noodle Co., a purveyor of ramen and pho.
Craveable is leaving nothing to chance. Instagram-worthy backgrounds, for example: Saltbrick will feature Himalayan rock salt-lined walls, and Caputo Pizzeria will be all about neon.
O’Neill noted that a problem with many food halls is that there’s never enough seating, which is why Revolution Hall will have 700 seats, in a wide variety of formats: counter stools, library tables, couches, benches and more. There will also be billiards, shuffleboard and table games.
“And we’ll have plugs everywhere,” said O’Neill. “If you want to come in, plug in and hang out for three hours, that’s great. We don’t want anyone to feel rushed.”
A mall’s evolution
Rosedale is a vivid example of the evolution in consumer interests.
When the center opened in 1969, Donaldsons occupied Revolution Hall’s central-court location.
In 1987, Donaldsons became Carson Pirie Scott, and in 1995 the name over the door switched to Mervyn’s.
The department store was demolished in 2005 and was replaced a year later by a Borders Book Shop and the mall’s outdoor “lifestyle” extension, which includes stores, restaurants and a 14-screen movie theater.
After Borders closed in 2011, the space was used as a furniture store and various seasonal outlets. Now, food and drink will take center stage.
Rosedale has recently completed an extensive renovation, and while anchor Herberger’s is going out of business, another department store, Van Maur, is getting ready to open on Oct. 13.
The shopping center’s sales per square foot are exceeded only by the Mall of America in Bloomington and the Galleria in Edina.
When the food hall opens later this fall, Craveable plans to cater to a wide swath of diners. The strategy will range from tempting early morning mall walkers with breakfast sandwiches, coffee, smoothies and pastries, to luring moviegoers streaming out of the nearby multiplex with cocktails and late-night snacks.
“We think we can fill it,” said O’Neill. “Every day, and all day."