Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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254 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 Dean Small Inspired dining options are equating to enhanced visitation and profts for shopping center owners. New Cuisine Trends In Retail Environs L ifestyle centers and enclosed malls are engaged in an ongoing struggle to keep their guest food choices relevant, desirable, authentic and engag- ing. As many food courts morph into food halls, the challenge is further complicated by guests' increasing sensitivity and desire for healthy nutrition-driven foods, global flavors, authenticity, affordability and fresh ingredients. There are a wide variety of concepts and cuisines gaining traction throughout the country that will soon be more evident in the retail world. Here are some of the biggest and most popular. Noodles This mainstay of multiple Asian cui- sines and of course, Italian pasta, is growing into one of the more significant players in the food truck, the food court and the fast casual arenas. The accelera- tion of the opening of Ramen-influenced venues is at once nostalgic for its homage to many former college student diets and future-seeing as it provides an affordable, versatile and quick service alternative to other noodles. Freshly made noodles (ideally the process is visible to diners) are not only delicious but beautiful when plated. And there are so many varieties. From the soba and udon noodles of Japan to the more exotic cellophane noodles from Korea & Thailand all the way to Lo Mein (Can- tonese), Rice (Malaysian & Vietnamese) to Wonton, Razali and Pho, noodle con- cepts (kiosk, food court or freestanding) are satisfying an increasing number of palates throughout the country. No retail food program is complete without one. saNdwiches Shoppers aren't looking for their lunch- box sandwiches of yore. Neither do they prefer, if given the choice, sandwiches served after spending time under a heat lamp and made from unknowable ingre- dients. Surprisingly, residents of the U.S. eat an estimated 300 million sandwiches every day. So there is definitely an appetite for sandwiches. But, in increasing num- bers they are gravitating to freshly made paninis; wraps; Cuban pulled pork; banh mi (Vietnamese); real delicatessen quality servings of "sliced today and on site" cold cuts; and the ubiquitous but decidedly sat- isfying juicy burger made with grass fed beef and unique condiments. And they are willing, in many cases, to pay a little more for a better sandwich. Or even a lot more. The portability of the sandwich makes it an ideal "walking food" which can move guests out of the dining terraces and back onto the retail tracks where other, more merchandise-directed hungers, may be spurred. There are a few great new fran- chise operators that have entered the sandwich world. But neighborhood sand- wich shops that source local ingredients will resonate with shoppers if developers would reach out to them and help them adapt to a different selling environment. (continued page 256) Crab noodles at Mie Razali in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Dishes like this are now inspiring Asian-themed restaurants at U.S. shopping centers. Dean Small

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