The Virtual Food Hall Revolution

The Virtual Food Hall Revolution

There are countless reasons that business owners and chefs alike are diving into the world of virtual food halls. 

For chefs in traditional restaurant settings, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s working. They may have a sense of what’s more popular on weekdays versus weekends, or what appetizer is selling like hot cakes, what dessert is everyone’s favourite, but they lack access to hard data on their menus. Virtual food halls make that knowledge concrete with data about what’s working and what isn’t. With the data created by apps, chefs are able to optimize their kitchens and menus to suit the customer’s needs. These food halls mean “operators can reduce their overhead cost by utilizing the shared physical infrastructure,” Brian Berger told Gary Occhiogrosso of Forbes Magazine. 

Food halls are all about innovation, not only changing the way people order and enjoy their food by upending the traditional restaurant model, but for the chefs developing their menus. 

“If a particular concept or menu isn't producing enough sales and profits, the operator can change the menu and pivot concepts,” writes Occhiogrosso.

Working in a virtual food hall means chefs can be nimble, adding new menu items – and removing them as soon as they sell out. The chefs at 5th St. love the camaraderie the model offers, where they can “learn new tricks and ideas from each other” as Chef Robert Wick says. The different kitchens, while they make different food, share ideas and inspiration that motivates them to keep cooking the dishes that excite them.

“It pushes you to do your best when you see all the others doing the same with their passions,” Chef Gregory Sweeney says. 

With multiple restaurants sharing the same number of serving staff, labour costs remain low without sacrificing the high quality service and excellent food. 

Virtual food halls not only help chefs run their business more efficiently – for the business owners themselves, the model just makes sense. The ability to constantly optimize not only menus, but technology, customer experience, and operations mean the business can respond to issues and make improvements faster than before. 

As Maëlle Piquée, Chief Marketing Officer of JustCook puts it, the food hall model’s shared space, “allows several brands to operate out of the same space - whether concurrently or at different times of the day, which helps optimize costs between several sources of revenue.” 

“​​Having every order recorded also helps us look at past data and make data-driven decisions to remain successful,” says Piquée.

The ordering process is seamless with the benefit of the web app, allowing customers to order at their own pace, right from their table. 

“With a lot of the infrastructure being built digitally, it makes launching, pivoting, or growing fast and easy, whether we’re talking about a dish, a menu, or a new brand,” says Piquée. 

As pop ups increase in popularity, food halls have the right tools to rise to the occasion. Rotating in a one-night only menu or a special week-long kitchen residency by an up-and-coming chef is simple with the built-in tech infrastructure that virtual food halls have to offer.

By Caitlin Hart

With a lot of the infrastructure being built digitally, it makes launching, pivoting, or growing fast and easy, whether we’re talking about a dish, a menu, or a new brand.