Metro Atlanta is getting its first Asian food hall.
PH’EAST at The Battery Atlanta will bring a slew of local Asian eateries together, featuring flavors from Laotian food to Chinese bubble teas and sushi burritos.
PH’EAST is modeled after Ponce City Market but inspired by hawker markets – stalls that sell a variety of inexpensive food – on the streets of Asia. It’s part of larger food hall invasion with several popping up across metro Atlanta, including Krog Street Market, Marietta Square Market, Alpharetta’s The Daily and Colony Square’s upcoming food hall Main & Main.
“The whole idea of creating a collective was to offer something compelling to the Braves that they would give their 100% corner to because they wouldn’t have given it to any of the individual concepts [in PH’EAST] in isolation,” said David Smith, managing member of Trowbridge Partners and PH’EAST concept creator. “It gives the little guy a spot.”
The popularity of food halls reflects not only the increasing consumer demand for authentic food options but also an affordable real estate option for a rising tide of food entrepreneurs, according to new research from Cushman & Wakefield’s food halls report.
The research shows the food hall trend is not just a fad, but rather a “new normal” in real estate development. What was once just an urban trend is now also a suburban one, and the drive to offer heightened experiences for consumers is also intensifying, according to the report.
Cushman & Wakefield predicts the trend of single-cuisine food halls, such as PH’EAST, to explode in the next few years as operators have barely scratched the surface of familiar cuisines to explore, much less delved into more exotic territory.
The developers plan to open PH’EAST in the fall, likely around September, and revealed the lineup of small eateries that will make up the food hall, with the exception of one spot that’s still available. All PH’EAST operators have established locations throughout Atlanta:
- Founded by Sevan Chan and chef Ken Yu, Poke Burri is an emporium of sorts for hybrid sushi and poke dishes from sushi pizza to sushi doughnuts, poke bowls and more creative Asian dishes.
- Snackboxe Bistro serves savory street food from Laos, including noodles, sticky rice and savory soups.
- Lifting Noodles is another concept by Chan and Yu that serves authentic ramen options.
- Kung Fu Tea will serve up Chinese bubble teas, where teas are freshly brewed every three hours, according to Taiwanese tradition. The tea is mixed with milk or fruits and topped off with chewy tapioca balls.
- The founders of Truck & Tap (Duluth, Woodstock and Alpharetta) have adapted their concept of a creative beer, wine and spirits experience accompanied by food trucks to create TAPS@PH’EAST. The result is 40 taps of craft beer, cocktails, wine and sake to complement the Asian stalls.
There are several key players breathing life into PH’EAST, which has been in the works for more than a year, including Chan, founder of PH’EAST tenants Poke Burri and Lifting Noodles; Mitch Jaffe, CEO and CFO of PREP Atlanta; Smith and Braves Development Group at The Battery. Each has played an important role in establishing the PH’EAST concept with Smith as the concept developer, while Chan brings the necessary food element and helped coordinate other leases to fill the food hall. Jaffe brings the capital needed for the project and the Braves are providing the space.
Prep Atlanta, a commercial kitchen facility serving over 150 entrepreneurial food companies, is the key investor in the project and is managing the building and design, which will cost a total of nearly $2 million by the time it’s complete.
“It’s been very collaborative,” Jaffe said. “The idea is to do something very Asian-specific and next level, so David is the creative one deciding who should be in there, and we work together to negotiate the deals. I think it’s the right idea at the right time, and people want more experiential food interaction. This will look and feel like something you may see on Buford Highway and it’s all coming right here [The Battery].”
Located near Wahlburgers, the 5,000 square-foot food hall will feature communal seating for up to 200 people, as well as to-go counters and catering options. Each roughly 450-square-foot stall will run its own operation, meaning guests will pay on the spot versus a cafeteria-style pay system, and leases are expected to last 10 years. The interior will sport mostly bright colors and Asian-inspired light fixtures reminiscent of paper lanterns. The space is wide open with the TAPS@PH’EAST bar as the centerpiece, and a covered 1,500-square-foot patio for outdoor eating is conveniently in front.
The Battery is also making progress across the street from PH’EAST with the buildout of 140-room Aloft Hotel, Silverspot Cinema and Savi Provisions, which are expected to be ready by next year. The Battery was an investment of more than $400 million by the Braves and their development partners, while SunTrust Park was built for $672 million in a public-private partnership with Cobb County. The total development of more than $1 billion is constructed over 1.5 million square-feet of land and includes restaurants, bars, hotels, the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre, businesses, shopping and apartments that create not only a gathering place, but a community within itself.
Mike Plant, President and CEO of Braves Development Group, said cities in the U.S. and around the world have been visiting and looking at what the Braves and Cobb County did for guidance, and PH’EAST is one of the last pieces of the puzzle to create a “360-degree destination.”
“Everybody is looking at what we did. This [The Battery] is the future of sports business going forward – to do it all at once and create this transformation of a legacy destination and once again drive traffic 365 [days],” Plant said. “We’re happy to have PH’EAST. It’s really one of the last pieces left in our restaurant lineup, and we’re looking forward to getting it open.”
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
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