Booming Boroughs and the Role Dining Plays in Retail Development

New York City is recognized for its innovative shopping complexes. Each borough develops diverse and distinct corridors where dining is an integral part of the shopping experience. It is these combinations that create neighborhoods that grow and prosper.

Landlords and developers know how to make these areas come alive – they set the stage to create a synergy of stores, restaurants and entertainment. Food coupled with Fashion ensures success over and over again.

Faith Hope Consolo
Faith Hope Consolo

Projects Seeking that Special Restaurant Experience to Add to the Retail Development Recipe

Hudson Yards (Manhattan) was built around food. Related Companies has leased 60% of its retail and dining space, the developer announced on November 30.  The 1 million-square-foot Shops & Restaurants will house a mix of luxury big-name tenants, including New York’s first Neiman Marcus location as well as mid-range retail brands.  Chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller is leading the curation of the dining concept at this mecca development and has already picked Costas Spiliadis and José Andrés who will open Greek and Spanish seafood concepts, respectively. Keller has announced that he will open an American Grill and a steakhouse. This luxury food court collection is slated to consist of a dozen dining experiences.

South Street Seaport (Manhattan)

The historic waterfront has undergone yet another restoration and expansion and still has a way to go. Famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and business partner Phil Suarez signed a lease for a 40,000 square-foot seafood themed market and for a 10,000 square-foot restaurant in Pier 17.  Vongerichten will play a large role and hand pick who fit bests to join his vision. Celebrity Chef David Chang will be opening a large eatery concept.  The redevelopment is on track to open in mid to late 2017.

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Industry City (Brooklyn) is a 6 million square-foot cluster of 16 historic warehouses which houses large manufacturers to small start-ups. Amenities include a dynamic food court with a variety of tenants such as One Girl Cookies and organic ice cream maker Blue Marble.  Chocolatier Li-Lac Chocolates has a store and a factory there where visitors can watch the candy being made.  Numerous food businesses at this mega-complex are glassed in so shoppers can be a part of the experience. Plans are still in the works to attract a bevy of restaurant and dining options with a social aspect in order to create a culture within this Sunset Park destination.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard (Brooklyn)

This massive industrial park created in what was once a thriving naval base comprised of 300-acres across Brooklyn’s waterfront. Building 77 will take up more than 1 million square feet of space, and is slated to be unveiled in 2017. Office and shared work spaces, private event spaces, and a massive ground-floor food hall that will be anchored by the first Brooklyn outpost of Russ & Daughters the legendary family-run Lower East Side store taking 14,000 square feet. R & D will move its bakery and food production operations from Bushwick to the Navy Yard. The new space will also provide shipping and catering services and a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. Workers and visitors will be able to watch Russ & Daughters’ manufacturing facilities through glass walls – a concept that will be used by many tenants of the food hall. This all falls under the concept of making shopping and dining an “event” or “entertainment” center and the Brooklyn Navy Yard is all about that. Wegmans, the beloved grocery store chain, has won out over three other proposals to replace part of Admiral’s Row meeting the neighborhood’s need for affordable food shopping and the chain’s promise to bringing 200 full-time jobs and 600 total jobs to the area, more than twice that of any other proposal. The store will be developed by Steiner NYC, and is expected to open in 2017. It will be New York City’s first Wegmans and, at 74,000 square feet, it will be larger than both the Red Hook Fairway and the Gowanus Whole Foods.

The Mast Brothers Chocolatiers are building a new factory and “chocolate brewery” at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Michael and Rick Mast are taking over a 65,000-square-foot space to be their headquarters and production facility. They will double their existing workforce. Also coming to the Yard; Brooklyn Roasting Company, and Kings County Distillery.

Empire Outlets New York City (Staten Island)

This category-defining retail destination is New York City’s first and only shopping outlet.  It is being programmed with top boutiques, best in category brands to offer the greatest range of experience possible, positioning the development as a top NYC culinary and lifestyle destination. With an emphasis on authenticity and uniqueness, the food component far surpasses what is typically available in a retail outlet development. To date signed leases include: MRKTPL, an artisanal food hall, serving as the anchor with over 15,000 square feet and 35 vendors throughout the City; Mighty Quinn’s, nationally ranked and the top rated Barbeque in NYC; Two Boots, iconic and spirited brand with a 700sf outdoor space that will have live music; Wasabi Japanese Steak House, offering Hibachi, fast casual sushi and bubble tea concepts; Nathan’s and Haagen-Dazs.  Additional iconic brands will be announced in the near future.  Empire Outlets grand opening is set for November 2017.

Creating Sports Destinations

The poster child for success at an arena is Yankee Stadium (Bronx). Once exclusively home to hot dogs and cracker jacks, is simply now not enough with the expectation of wide selections.  They have really stepped up their game! Fans can now enjoy the ultimate food and beverage experience. Some of the standouts include; Parm: The Yankee Stadium outpost of Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi’s Nolita sandwich shop. Lobel’s of New York: Lobel’s, the New York butcher shop institution, serves hand-carved steak sandwiches to order. Brother Jimmy’s BBQ: The barbecue restaurant has locations throughout Yankee Stadium, offering Carolina pulled pork sandwiches, pulled chicken sandwiches, beef sandwiches, fried pickles, mac ‘n’ cheese, and baked beans with smoked pork. This sports arena does it best!

Madison Square Garden (Manhattan), has The Club Bar & Grill located on the 3rd Floor Terrace Level of the Garden, The Club Bar & Grill is open to all Club Seat holders 2 hours prior to all Knicks and Rangers games at The Garden and will remain open for all ticketed patrons for up to 1 hour after. I foresee more fine dining coming here and not just in the vicinity but on site.

Barclays Center (Brooklyn), offers several great concessions with a “Brooklyn taste.” The Calvin Klein Courtside Club is an upscale dining and bar experience located outside the Brooklyn Nets locker room. The glass-walled club allows fans to cheer on the Nets as they enter and exit the main court. At The 40/40 CLUB & Restaurant by American Express, fans can enjoy traditional American food in this upscale, all-American sports bar, lounge and restaurant. Members-only guests have the opportunity to dine and drink signature cocktails at the Billboard Lounge. This landmark arena redefines the fan experience.

Not to be forgotten the Fabulous Food Halls; have become the go-to place, a mainstay and way to truly experience a variety of cuisines from the city’s best restaurants. Hudson Eats is widely considered to be the city’s best food hall, but not to be ignored is Eataly, Gotham West Market, Gansevoort Market and The Plaza Food Hall. All are treasures to the landlords and retailers within each development.

Food choices are always in flux; watch for my next edition of Faithful Food! Happy Dining!

Faith Hope Consolo
Faith Hope Consolo, Chairman of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group, writes the "Faithful Food" column for Total Food Service. Ms. Consolo is a leading retail broker and advisor who covers the national market. She is a specialist ranging from fine restaurants to fashionable fast foods. "To find the best retail space, You Need Faith." Email her at