2 new food halls are opening in Mesa and Chandler. Here’s what to know

Sara Crocker
6 Min Read

Food halls are a dining trend that has never quite caught on in the Valley, but two groups are betting that diners are craving this choose-your-own-adventure approach to eating out.

Two new food halls were announced in the last three weeks, slated to arrive in downtown Chandler in 2024 and in downtown Mesa in 2025. Both aim to create local culinary destinations, albeit through differing methods. Here’s what we know so far.

click to enlarge

A rendering of the Chandler food hall, which was inspired by similar concepts in Colorado and California.


Chandler food hall: ‘We just want to do common food uncommonly well’

The Chandler food hall is set to be built at the southwest corner of Chicago and Oregon streets. The 15,000-square-foot space is proposed to be two stories, featuring indoor and outdoor seating, an expansive bar and a rooftop featuring lawn games and areas to lounge.

The food hall will house between six and 12 dining options and will have seating for about 600 guests, says Jeremy McClymonds, a partner of JEMBJACD, LLC, which is developing the project. The food hall was inspired by those in other states, such as the Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad, California, and Avanti Food & Beverage in Denver.

“I thought to myself, man, I would love to have something like this in downtown Chandler,” McClymonds says, recalling his first visit to Windmill. “I can assure you it’s not a mall food court. We just want to do common food uncommonly well.”

The food hall’s name and restaurant lineup will be released at a later date, but the aim is to create “a restaurant mecca with a ton of options,” McClymonds says. That means attracting established local chefs and restauranteurs and having options available throughout the day, from breakfast to dinner.

The development team also includes East Valley business leaders Jackson Armstrong, an owner of Ginger Monkey Gastropub, BLD and Pour Decisions; M.J. Reavely, who owns gym Emerald City Athletics; and Carlos Muñoz, owner of Pimmex Contracting.

“We want to do something cool in our own backyard,” McClymonds says.

In addition to bringing a variety of dining options under one roof, he says the team wants to provide a community space that can host to special events, like yoga, and feature live music and an area with “wall-to-wall televisions” for sports. The team is eyeing an opening at the end of 2024.

A rendering of the restaurant incubator in downtown Mesa, a partnership between Local First Arizona and the City of Mesa.

City of Mesa

Mesa restaurant incubator: ‘Almost like graduate school’

Local First Arizona, a nonprofit that supports small business owners and entrepreneurship, and the City of Mesa have teamed up to create a space for new restaurants to start, learn and grow.

The food hall builds off of Local First’s Restaurant Startup Boot Camp and Community Kitchen programs, which help food entrepreneurs move from an idea to reality through education and access to kitchen space.

“It’s a way to showcase what we’re already doing in these kitchens,” says Gabe Gardner, Local First’s food program director. “The food hall is almost like graduate school.”

Visitors to the food hall will be able to try dishes from five to seven restaurants, with the majority being new concepts, along with one or two that are graduates who have gone on to establish their businesses.

“It’s a very innovative way to give these restauranteurs a lower risk to startup,” says Jeff McVay, Mesa’s Manager of Downtown Transformation.

Featuring these new concepts is one thing that will make the Mesa food hall experience different, McVay and Gardner say.

“Downtown Mesa has become a destination for people from around the Valley who care about interesting, unique, local food and drink,” Gardner says.

The historic Main Street building, which was originally a general store and later became a bank, will seat about 80 guests inside and 20 on its patio. The former bank vault will be incorporated as a cooler or storage for the bar, McVay says.

The city owns the building, which was purchased with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and Local First will manage and maintain the space.

In addition to the kitchen and dining area, Local First will use the food hall for education. The building’s basement will transform into a retail and maker space for “shelf-stable food” businesses, Gardner says, boasting a second kitchen, as well as room for food prep, packaging and photography.

McVay is hopeful the incubator sparks the next great Valley-based restaurant.

“I hope someday the next business [we’re] talking about came from this incubator,” he says.

Construction is slated to start at the beginning of next year with an opening date projected for 2025.

Sara Crocker www.phoenixnewtimes.com Food & Drink/Chow Bella

2023-08-09 17:06:00 , Phoenix New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix New Times –

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