With A New Name And New Chefs, A Food Hall Entrepreneur Heads To Chicago

Food halls have been in Europe forever, but the American food hall invasion has happened fast. From New York to San Francisco, Detroit to Nashville, the past few years have brought a flood of food halls, and there's a race to build more.

New Orleans developer Will Donaldson is among the entrepreneurs who see food halls as a potentially lucrative market, for themselves and for the chefs who participate. He began in 2014 with a single food hall in New Orleans called the St. Roch Market, which drew crowds as soon as it opened. St. Roch is set in a historic market building that languished for years until it was renovated by the city, with Donaldson's firm, Bayou Secret, winning the development rights.

Then, Donaldson took the concept, and the St. Roch name, to Miami's Design District, raising some hackles back in New Orleans, where the city sued over his use of the historic moniker. (In August, a judge ruled Donaldson could continue to use the St. Roch name in New Orleans and Miami, but not on future projects, pending the outcome of the suit.)

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St. Roch Market