As malls are turning into entertainment centers, the traditional food court is getting a makeover. Malls now strive to offer their customers a higher-quality food experience, with better restaurants establishing themselves in shopping centers.
“Shopping center dining is up considerably in the U.S. and you can see major malls are going to lease to larger restaurants that are destinations, said Michael Kehoe, a retail specialist with Fairfield Commercial Real Estate in Calgary. The concept of entertainment where people can go and have an experiential meal that’s going to become more and more evident in Canada for sure.”
Darryl Schmidt, vice-president of national leasing for Cadillac Fairview, said malls have been forced to evolve into more mixed-use space as a result of the fallout in mid-price point fashion.
“There’s just not the depth of apparel and footwear retailers to backfill all of the bankruptcies that we’ve seen throughout North America and on a global basis,” said Schmidt. “We at Cadillac Fairview have made a conscious decision . . . to un-weight out of fashion and footwear and start getting alternative retailers, more experiential-based retailers, more food.
“In the last three years, we’ve increased the amount of premium, casual restaurants in our shopping centers by 35 percent and that’s going to continue. That’s not a fad. That’s a trend. We’re going to continue to increase the number of dining options both on a fast-food basis with food halls with premium casual restaurants. We haven’t experimented with fine dining yet. We see a little bit of it with some of the options within the better quality anchors. That’s something that occurs in the United States and I think eventually we’re going to see a few fine dining options in shopping centers in Canada as well.”