Houston has been slow to embrace the nationwide food hall trend, but it’s starting to build momentum. Conservatory’s revamp gives it new appeal, and next year will see the arrival of an even larger food hall at Jones on Main in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. building that will further elevate the concept.
Finn Hall, which takes its name from the building’s architect Alfred C. Finn, will occupy 20,000 square feet of space at the corner of Rusk and Main when it opens in mid-February. More than a name, the food hall will preserve the building’s art deco look that Finn created including its original limestone columns and walls.
“We spent time understanding how the building came to be,” Finn Hall operator David Goronkin tells CultureMap. “We recognize that Alfred Finn was one of (Houston’s top) architects. Because of the great work he did, what a great way to celebrate the craftsmanship and thought leadership he brought to the the city than to name the hall after him.”
Of course, Finn Hall won’t just survive on its classic looks — the overall concept looks to be pretty compelling, too. Diners will find 10 food stands, a central bar that serves craft beer, wine, and cocktails, and over 500 seats. An upstairs mezzanine will feature a bar serving classic cocktails and the option of having servers who will deliver food from the stalls. In addition, each stand will have a few counter seats that will allow customers to watch the chefs prepare their meals.
Goronkin isn’t quite ready to name specific vendors yet (although the Chronicle reported last week that Mala Sichuan is a possibility), but he would confirm that people will recognize the them. According to Goronkin, they range from food truck operators looking for a brick-and-mortar space to established restaurateurs, looking to take advantage of downtown’s rising status as a food destination with either a new project or an extension of their existing concepts.
“The folks we’re talking to are well known in the Houston area and well accomplished in their own right and will be well received as they enter the food hall,” Goronkin says.
To appeal to as many people as possible, the hall will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday, and offerings from the food stalls will span a wide range of cuisines. Goronkin says the hall is speaking with vendors who are prepared to serve everything from poke to pizza to seafood.
“One of the great things about coming to a food hall, whether you’re by yourself or with a group of 10, is that everybody can come in and tailor their experience to their preferences,” Goronkin says. “Once people migrate through the hall, you may have someone who has a poke bowl, somebody else that’s got a steak and a salad, or Mexican food. It really provides folks an opportunity to tailor their experience to their desires, and they can come back the next day and have a completely different experience.”
It all sounds promising. Assuming the right vendors occupy the space (Goronkin says he’ll start naming names within the next 30 days or so) Finn Hall will be a welcome addition to downtown’s dining mix. And, yes, downtown office workers, it’s accessible by tunnel.