Boulder has Avanti and Rosetta Hall. Golden has the Golden Mill. And Denver has a wide array of food halls, from The Source in RiNo to Stanley Marketplace in Aurora.
But, until now, Longmont has gone without a food hall. That’s all slated to change this spring, when Parkway Food Hall opens its doors for the first time in May.
Situated in the old Alfalfa’s Market space at the corner of Main Street and Ken Pratt Boulevard, the new 16,000-square-foot venue will feature eight dining concepts, three retail spaces, an indoor/outdoor bar, an expansive patio and event space for up to 40 people. One of the dining concepts has already been announced—Denver’s Chile con Quesadilla—while the others are still in the works.
I chatted with Pat Garza, operating partner of Parkway Food Hall, to learn more about this exciting new development in Boulder County.
Why food halls? What got you interested in the food hall industry to begin with?
At their core, food halls provide a vibrant, social atmosphere. They are often designed with communal seating areas, creating a lively and energetic environment. The owners [of the property] have always been focused on making Parkway Promenade an interactive, family-friendly center that takes advantage of the exceptional visibility from one of Longmont’s busiest intersections and also capitalizes on the outdoor walkway and courtyard that make the center unique. A food hall matches this vision exceptionally well and is also a glaringly missing element of the Longmont community. Other Front Range communities such as Golden, Boulder and Fort Collins—and of course, Denver—have seen food halls become staples of the community and successful businesses.
The higher-end finishes combined with quality quick-casual dining options make visiting a food hall a more versatile experience than a traditional restaurant (and far superior to the food courts of the 1980s). The wide variety of food options eliminates the “veto” vote and enables groups to satisfy everyone, all in one place. Together, these features make food halls a popular choice for socializing with family, friends or colleagues while enjoying a meal.
What are some of the other benefits of food halls?
Food halls are a great platform for small and local food businesses, offering an affordable way for them to grow and/or test new concepts. Surrounding businesses will benefit from the increased foot traffic. Communal eating areas can make for unexpected connections among guests.
The average cost to open a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant is upwards of $1 million these days. Food halls can provide an affordable, stable avenue for restaurants to (re)establish themselves. We expect restaurants and chefs to come to Parkway for various reasons: they already have one location and they want to expand their customer base to the Longmont market, veterans chefs want to test out a brand new concept and/or they’re first-time owners and they’re not ready to make the leap for a full-service restaurant.
The overall advantages of opening a food stall at Parkway Food Hall are many, including the unique gathering of concepts created by some of our area’s most highly regarded chefs and restaurateurs, the relatively low entry cost and the favorable return on investment.
Why Longmont? What specifically about this community drew you in?
Longmont has grown to a town of over 100,000 people, yet has maintained a strong community feel. Its restaurants and bars (including many breweries) are vibrant on weekends and weeknights alike. Residents have shown they like to get out and prefer to do so close to home. As a result, Longmont has some fantastic restaurants and watering holes, yet nothing quite like what Parkway will offer. The location at one of Longmont’s busiest intersections makes it visible and convenient, yet it also has easy parking and sheltered outdoor space.
Overall, what can diners expect from the location once it opens? What vibe are you going for?
Parkway Food Hall was designed with the family in mind. The food hall has a wealth of delicious food and drink options that appeal to all ages, full-day operational hours for families to visit from sunup to sundown, expansive indoor and outdoor space for large gatherings, and plenty of accessible parking. The vibe is expected to change throughout the day as the clientele and activities in the hall cycle in and out. Mornings are welcomed with the heavenly aroma of locally roasted coffee and deliciously flaky pastries. As the clock winds down, baristas switch out for bartenders. Specialty events will provide new reasons for families to visit Parkway Food Hall from weekly live music to pop-up vendors to being a top game day destination in the area.
What’s your approach to choosing vendors for the new space?
We are prioritizing a diverse mix of vendors—with unique menu offerings. We also already have some of the kitchens built out with cuisine-specific features, such as a BBQ pit and a pizza oven, so we’re invested in securing specific types of tenants right off the bat. After reviewing an application, we’ll do two rounds of interviews, followed by a taste test of desired menu items. Our ideal vendors have restaurant experience and are excited about the unique attributes of working in a food hall environment.
What else do you want more people to know?
This will be a family-friendly food hall that will be event-driven thereby expanding the audience to all walks of life. Whether it’s a gathering space for the nearby youth baseball team to celebrate its weekend win or the local band attracting its crowds and filling up the bar and the patio, we will have something for everyone. Catch the game, enjoy the music or delight in specialty crafted food and beverage at Parkway Food Hall. Longmont’s new community gathering spot!