What’s old is new again! Historic buildings and empty spaces across the South are being given new life as food-centric retail destinations. In the same style as New York City’s famed Chelsea Market, these trendy terminals are often rooted in the past. Like big sister, Chelsea — the original site of the Nabisco factory where the Oreo was invented and produced — these buildings are phoenixes restored again to their former glory. Atlanta’s prominent Ponce City Market was once a Sears, Roebuck and Company. Pizitz in Birmingham is another department store-turned-food hall that has been offered its second chance to shine. From department stores of years’ past to former warehouses in industrial districts, these historic buildings are taking on new lives as tasty and fun social hotspots.
Fifth + Broadway | Nashville, TN
This food hall is so new, it doesn’t even have a name yet. Fifth + Broadway is rumored to open its doors to Nashvillians sometime in 2020, and that means a lot of secrets are still under wraps. What we do know, however, is that some of the city’s most illustrious foodie stops have already signed-on to Fifth + Broadway’s yet-to-be-named food hall, including Prince’s Hot Chicken and The Donut + Dog. Formerly the Nashville Convention Center, the behemoth mixed-use development will sit on 6.2 acres in the heart of Music City’s bustling downtown and will feature more than 300,000 square feet of restaurants, retail and entertainment along with plans for residences, offices, the National Museum of African American Music and more.
Lee & White | Atlanta, GA
Atlanta’s first food and beverage district Lee & White is situated off of Atlanta’s Westside Beltline trail offering visitors a chance to sit and stay a spell after a sprint. Originally a centralized railroad and transportation hub, the renovated space has 425,000 square feet spread over 23 acres and now boasts a commercial kitchen, retail, restaurant and event space for some of Atlanta’s first food visionaries including Cultured South, Doux South, Honeysuckle Gelato and Monday Night Brewing. With more on the way, this sustenance sanctuary is sure to be a must-stop for Atlantans and tourists alike.
Marietta Square Market | Atlanta, GA
Just when you thought there wasn’t room for any more food halls in Atlanta, the suburbs throw you a curveball. Marietta Square Market sits just steps from historic Marietta Square. With a little more than 18,000 square feet of food and retail space, Marietta Square Market is one of the smaller food hall destinations, but don’t let that fool you. This communal hall packs a lot of foodstuff punch. It’s designed to resemble a turn-of-the-century train station and is tucked into a renovated warehouse. The market will ultimately be home to 20 food and retail merchants, many of which are already buzzing with customers. Pizza seekers can nosh on Forno Vero, while Latin cravers can order from D’Cuban Cafe. Just meet your party at any of the oblong upscale picnic tables before digging in.
Optimist Hall | Charlotte, NC
The highly anticipated Optimist Hall in Charlotte is among the next wave of food halls making their home in the South in 2019. A list of tenants has already been released and includes the likes of El Thrifty Social Club, Fonta Flora Brewery and Archer Paper Goods. The adaptive reuse space will be housed in a more-than-100-year-old mill and will reportedly boast original hardwood flooring and be punctuated with original support beams. Even cooler? Boss babe Sara Blakely prototyped her now-famous tummy-tucking hosiery (Spanx, of course) at the mill that previously occupied the space.
Pythian Market | New Orleans, LA
Perhaps one of the most storied buildings on our list, New Orleans’ Pythian Market is a mixed-use development anchored by a food hall. The original Pythian building was constructed in 1908 and quickly became a hub of the surrounding African American community. It celebrated the arts, featured a rooftop garden with live jazz and even played an integral role in New Orleans’ Civil Rights Movement. Restored to greatness, Pythian now connects culture and arts with food and function. With more than 10 vendors and several retail establishments, Pythian is a New Orleans must-see.
South Main Market | Memphis, TN
While its rebirth is just one year young, Memphis’ South Main Market has quite the history. It was built in 1912 where it became home to White Wilson Drew Company, a wholesale grocer. Its next tenant was Lucky Heart Cosmetics, an African American women’s cosmetic company. The history continues from there, and thanks to South Main Market’s hall, will persist. Today’s vendors include the chic cocktail bar, Civil Pour, and grab-and-go floral stand, Wallflower Memphis. You’ll want to linger and relish in South Main Market’s unassuming digs and cool vibes.
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Here’s to exploring, dining and shopping your way through these exciting one-stop halls this spring!
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