Carlos Lopez Lopez: “The majority of the feedback that I have heard from some of the landlords who have looked into these type of operations is how extremely management intensive they are.”

CORONA DEL MAR, CA—Established restaurant chains with strong financials will likely still be valued at a premium over a food hall/marketplace—unless the guarantor has a history that would surpass other chains or operators, Hanley Investment Group’s SVP Carlos Lopez tells We sat down with Lopez for a chat about food halls as an investment category and how they compare to restaurants as investments. What are the latest trends in food hall offerings? Lopez: Food halls have become a new popular form of draw to retail centers or districts. Some operate as an anchor, and some operate as another retail-concept draw. They may also be called food marketplaces. Grand Central Marketplace in Downtown Los Angeles, the Anaheim Packing House District in Anaheim, CA, the OC Mix in Costa Mesa, CA, and the new food marketplace at Pacific City in Huntington Beach, CA, each offer a unique mix of food vendors that are carefully curated by the operator for each specific marketplace. Theoretically, the Ferry Building in San Francisco and Pike Place Market in Seattle could qualify, since these facilities have multiple retailers and food vendors, each serving a customer base looking for diverse experiences. The food-vending experiences are carefully curated by the operators, with the customer base seeking a unique culinary experience that is far surpassing traditional “food courts” found in malls and shopping centers over the past several decades. What makes food halls attractive to investors?  Lopez: At this point in time, there hasn’t been a significant amount of sales volume or investment activity isolated to food halls/marketplaces to indicate a value from an investment standpoint. Although the Oxbow in Napa, CA, is currently and quietly for sale, no indication of the status or value is available currently. Whether or not food halls/marketplaces are attractive to investors has yet to be seen because each is so individually unique.

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Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.

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