The national food hall trend is coming to Durham! Durham Food Hall is set to open in the early winter of 2018 in the Central Park District of Downtown Durham. Located at 530 Foster Street on the first floor of Liberty Warehouse, Durham Food Hall will offer a collection of ten mini eateries, two bars, and two private event spaces in a 15,000 square foot, open food hall concept.
Adair Mueller, founder of Durham Food Hall, was 26 years old and living in New York City when she had her entrepreneurial “ah-ha” moment. “While living in the City, I found my group of friends traveling 30+ blocks to visit food halls. Traveling for food is not something New Yorkers typically do! I realized it wasn’t just one aspect of the food halls that made us venture out; it was the entire experience a hall creates that drew us in, bringing us back week after week.” As more halls began to pop up across the country in major cities, Mueller started considering other markets that could respond to the food hall concept. As a Durham native, Mueller has seen Durham grow into a thriving foodie scene and she spotted an opportunity, “Durham has co-working spaces for our vibrant tech community, shared labs for cutting edge researchers, and even incubators for burgeoning brew-masters – why not a space for our culinary entrepreneurs, too?”
Mueller’s vision will come to life this winter and will house a collection of ten selected vendors – each providing fast-casual and/or grab-and-go menu items. Some of the hall’s vendors are off-shoots of well-known restaurateurs while others are new talent. “I have designed Durham Food Hall with extreme care and intention. I want my vendors to share similar values,” explains Mueller. “With 200+ applicants interested in the Hall, I relied heavily on my gut instincts to guide me. While the quality of food and techniques of these vendors are very important, their character was equally important and vital in my decision making.”
So what can visitors of the hall anticipate!? To start the day, coffee lovers will enjoy a pick-me-up at Liturgy Beverage Company, or a cold pressed juice and coconut parfait from Durham Raw, even a grown-up style of pb&j will be available with artisanal nut spreads from Simons Says Spread This. Those seeking lunch or dinner can expect to dine from a variety of menus including tacos from Ex-Voto Cocina Nixtamal, authentic Neapolitan pizza from Napoli Pizza & Gelato, southern specialties from Lula & Sadie’s, smoked meats and deli sandwiches from Old North Meats & Provisions, and ultra-fresh coastal fare from Locals Seafood Market and Oyster Bar. To finish, diners who have saved room for something sweet (who doesn’t!?) can order decadent dessert flights and cookie cakes from Afters. The 10th and final stall will be a unique opportunity for a 6-month Pop-Up, which the Hall is currently accepting applications for.
The menus may range in cuisine but one thing the vendors have in common is an overarching dedication to sustainability and local food sourcing. “Food production and public spaces can be incredibly wasteful. I wanted to create a hall anchored by sustainable values,” says Mueller. The hall will host composting and grease recycling programs, and vendors will use local, responsibly farmed produce and humanely sourced animal products. No matter what your dietary needs, Durham Food Hall will have multiple, high quality options for you!
Mueller also hand-selected the architect, contractor and furniture designer – all who have a shared focus on green design. “Adair’s enthusiasm for this project is contagious,” says Jack Moore of Gateway Building Company. “You can really feel her passion, down to the last detail.” Details include artwork from North Carolina artists and unique furnishings built with reclaimed materials from Bull City Designs.
The space itself marries Mueller’s interests of locally sourced food, sustainability practices and inclusivity – all shared in an inspiring space. “The overall design has been influenced by Adair’s vision of this being a fun and welcoming environment,” says Meredith Pittman of Ellen Cassilly Architect, a firm that like Mueller, is driven by sustainability. “Our work intrinsically incorporates sustainable design practices and materials. This includes seeking out locally salvaged materials, incorporating recycled and biodegradable acoustic panels, working with the mechanical engineers to have the most efficient systems, and prioritizing LED light fixtures to keep life-cycle costs low.”
Even Mueller’s strategic partner in the venture, MDO Holdings, has a local focus as a Raleigh-based investment and management firm. Mueller chose to partner with MDOH for their values, too, as they ‘strive to fuel creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit to help create healthier and stronger communities.’
“Ultimately, my vision was to bring a food hall to Durham that provides high-quality, low-impact food at a great price in an unpretentious, inclusive environment,” explains Mueller. “We have established a team that shares these values and I think Durham Food Hall will serve Durham’s incredible community as it was intended.”
Durham Food Hall Eateries
Locals Seafood Market & Oyster Bar – seasonal North Carolina seafood, fresh daily from the coast. Everything from oyster plates and simple ceviche to market fish you can take home and prepare yourself.
Lula & Sadie’s – a seasonal, Southern eatery highlighting the cultural roots and bounty of produce our region produces, from scalloped potatoes and hot cakes, to tomato salad, chicken potpie and eggnog-pecan French toast.
Liturgy Beverage – creative tea and coffee beverages inspired by both the growers and producers who provide the ingredients, and the people who enjoy drinking them.
Simons Says Spread This – small batch artisanal nut spreads drizzled on top of and dipped over baked goods, fro-yo, and frozen fruits. Hello, grown-up pb&j!
Old North Meats and Provisions – house-smoked meats, sausages and charcuterie for deli sandwiches or sliced. They will also have a selection of local cheeses – to enjoy at the Hall or to make your own charcuterie and cheese board at home.
Napoli Pizza and Gelato – Neapolitan style wood fired pizza with naturally risen dough, and sweet gelatos and sorbets made from scratch.
Afters – Cookie cakes and dessert flights, giving you delicious small tastes of multiple desserts – you can try them all!
Ex-Voto Cocina Nixtamal – heirloom corn and nixtamalization to produce items like tacos, tamales, and tostadas that celebrate both Mexican and regional agriculture.
Durham Raw – foods to inspire an optimal lifestyle by providing fresh juice, smoothies, and unprocessed, plant-based, nutrient-dense, super-foods in their raw (living) form, full of live enzymes.