“That’s our Instagram neon wall,” says Matt O’Neill on a tour of Revolution Hall, the new food hall at Rosedale (1595 Hwy. 36, Roseville, 651-633-0872, myrosedale.com/revolution-hall).
The new concept opens today, featuring the kinds of dishes that foodies lust over on Instagram. Taking his cues from the social media playbook, O’Neill, as vice president of culinary for Craveable Hospitality Group and the idea man behind Revolution Hall, monitored trending foods online and gave them homes in this former two-story Borders bookstore.
There’s piecaken, that hybrid of pie and cake that usually pops up on Pinterest this time of year. Sushi burritos and poke bowls, which have recently been storming run-of-the-mill sushi operations. Handwiches, a not-yet-famous mini sandwich O’Neill is banking on overtaking the traditional sub. Chicken-and-waffle sandwiches that come from a storefront made to look like a food truck. And burgers that are aged on Himalayan pink salt slabs.
O’Neill quotes Zac Young, Revolution Hall’s pastry director, when he calls his dessert stand “social media’s greatest hits.”
As if all 11 food stations (cashless, by the way) were friends on Facebook, each has a cute little icon: They’re dotted across the floor to help customers find their way to the sushi robots or the self-rotating pizza oven. And they’re lit up in neon on that wall, where, O’Neill hopes, people will pose for selfies and post them online.
Revolution Hall is a fairly new concept as far as the increasingly popular food hall goes. Instead of a collection of vendors who each have to make their own food and fend for themselves, this souped-up food court centralizes all the prep into one kitchen and disperses the ingredients to each stand. If one restaurant doesn’t work, there won’t be a boarded-up kiosk waiting for a new renter. O’Neill can swap it out with another ripped-from-the-internet idea.
No, the name is not for Prince’s band (though O’Neill eventually realized the connection and plastered mock Prince and the Revolution posters in the middle of the hall). Instead, “we think it’s the new revolution of food,” he said. “Free-standing, full-service restaurants are going to the wayside.”
Much of what would be high-skilled jobs elsewhere are automated here. A machine rolls out pizza dough, and the wood-fire oven rotates the pizza to all the right hot spots. Another machine flattens sheets of rice and rolls it, so all a high schooler behind the counter need do is place the fish in the middle.
“It’s a loyal employee,” O’Neill said of the sushi robot. “It never calls in sick. And we don’t have to have a trained sushi chef.”
New York-based Craveable Hospitality Group consults on food around the country, and has two restaurants at Foxwoods casino in Connecticut. This is the company's first food hall, which O'Neill hopes will be the first of many. As anchor tenants in malls go out of business, he’d like to see concepts like Revolution Hall take over.
“We think this is the new way to run food halls,” he said. “We feel that in these larger spaces that need to get filled — retail spaces, bookstores — we can fill that void with food.”