BOSTON – If the food hall bubble is poised to burst as a result of market saturation, no one has bothered to tell Delaware North yet.

When it was announced last year that the New York-based retail development giant planned to expand their portfolio offerings to include a $100 million mixed development complex including an 18-option food hall on site at the TD Garden, it seemed easy easy enough to roll your eyes—even if your surprise was less than palpable.

After all, both the retail industry and hospitality publicists have been frothing at the mouth with barely contained hyperbole for the past two years that 2019 will be the “year of the food hall” in Boston, despite many indicators that the promise of a food hall rarely lives up to their its expectation.

Nor was that sentiment exactly dissuaded upon learning that celebrity chef (and human jailhouse tattoo) Guy Fieri would be opening up a satellite outlet of his 70-plus location restaurant empire upon its premises. It was enough to make you weep into your Orange Julius. Then you remembered it was an Orange Julius, and you felt even worse.

It’s easy enough to castigate food halls as being nothing more than glorified food courts, rebranded to sate the over-euphemized palates of suburban gourmands. But the differences are far from subtle. For one, you’re not likely to find the equivalent of a Panda Express or Dairy Queen at your average food hall, despite the presence of a gratingly animated media maven with bleached hair. The emphasis is primarily on local talent utilizing local ingredients; and subsequently, reflective of local tastes. It’s a model as applicable to Lisbon as it is to Manhattan.

But while Boston’s never been anything less than diverse when it comes to dining options, the misconception that we maintain a regionally insular food culture tends to be our own albatross. Which doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be limited to tourist-friendly delicacies of questionably local export when Hub Hall opens this winter; but don’t say you weren’t warned if it vendors appear promising 57 variations on artisanal clam chowder three years from now.

Among the early vendors announced for Hub Hall’s opening include:

  • Mike’s Pastry, who’ll be opening up their fourth location outside of their flagship Hanover Street location for customers who don’t particularly want to brave four-block lines during tourist season
  • Apizza, a casual New Haven-style pizzeria (minus the charcoal grill) owned and operated by Douglass Williams from the South End’s MIDA aiming to “pay homage to these people who settled in this place between New York City and Boston” (as Williams told Eater in July)
  • Sullivan’s, the unofficial harbinger of spring in the city, who’ll be opening up their first satellite location after almost seventy years of continuous operation on Castle Island
  • Monica’s Mercato, the beloved North End staple for sandwiches and subs spanning the past two decades
  • Banner’s Kitchen & Tap, a (surprisingly rare) sports bar promising what’s only expected to be pub-grub fare
  • Guy Fieri’s Tequila Cocina, a joint venture between entertainment group Big Night Live and a grown man with impossibly bad facial hair and a penchant for obnoxious clothing.

Hub Hall will be located at 80 Causeway St in Boston and is expected to open in the Winter of 2019/2020. A full list of vendors is expected in the next few weeks. For more information, visit Hub Hall

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash