It's called a "restaurant accelerator" because chefs market-test their visions by renting a shared food hall space instead of locking into a costlier operation at a building they lease or own.
Patrons gain cuisine choices in a casual atmosphere with communal seating and individual tables.
Detroiters can check out the approach from 5-10 p.m. Friday at the debut of Fort Street Galley, with four food stalls, about 220 seats and a 30-seat bar at 160 W. Fort St. near Campus Martius.
It's run by two Pittsburgh food hall developers who launched two similar sites in their city and one in Cleveland. Chicago is next.
A tourism news site, Travel Pulse, reports last month on this emerging niche, which also popped up in the Cass Corrdior five months ago at Detroit Shipping Company, a "restaurant collective and beer hall" at 474 Peterboro St. Similar sites are in Atlanta, Miami, Boston and Tampa, the November post says:
Across the country, suburban malls are being abandoned, and with them, their once-bustling food courts. But sprouting up to replace them (at least in spirit) in hip urban centers are higher-end so-called "food halls." These facilities are often set in refurbished buildings with expansive spaces. . . .
Some of these serve almost as incubators, providing entrepreneurs with something more permanent than a food truck, yet cheaper than opening a full-blown restaurant on their own.
Detroit's entrepreneurs (pictured below) were chosen from among five dozen applicants and eight finalists. Eater Detroit editor Brenna Houck describes their fare:
- Allenby, a Middle Eastern-style sandwich shop from former Selden Standard chefs Michael Goldberg and Katie Nelson. Small-plate choices incude Cuban sandwiches, milk-braised pork belly poutine and merguez sausage sandwiches with harissa aioli, greens, Bulgarian feta, and Hawaii-spiced red onion on a focaccia.
- Isla, a Filipino-French restaurant from chef JP Garcia and pastry chef Jacqueline Diño, a married couple. The menu has Filipino egg rolls, lumpia, noodle dishes, stews, and other dishes from the Philippines -- such as bangus croquettes with milkfish, purple yam purée and tropical ube cake.
- Pursue: Mike Han serves sushi with a Korean flavor profile.
- Lucky's Noble BBQ: Rattlesnake Club alumni Jimmy Schmidt, a James Beard Award winner and Brian Recor serve Wagyu beef barbecue, sandwiches, salads, protein shakes, bratwurst, and hot dogs.
-- Alan Stamm