DeKalb Market Hall, one of the city’s largest food halls that hosts over 35 local businesses including the iconic New York staple Katz’s Deli is looking for mom and pop-run restaurants to take over vacant stands.
The neon-lit 60,000 square-foot food hall opened in the basement of City Point BKLYN in 2017, offering a wide selection of international cuisine. With a near-perfect location at 445 Albee Square Dowtown Brooklyn, the market is in the path of Trader Joe’s shoppers, Alamo Draft House cinema-goers and Target visitors, plus office workers and college students. After two years of being “essentially closed” due to the pandemic, the food hall is starting to recover, said Anna Castellani, CEO of Local Culture Management, the commercial group in charge of the execution and administration of the food hall.
“Right before Covid, we were so busy,” Castellani said. “We feed off the office buildings in downtown, they were not here. We feed off students, they didn’t come back til the fall. We feed off of brownstone Brooklyn and a lot of them were away all summer. Now we’re finally getting them back.”
In the labyrinth made up of more than 35 vendors, the market has a food options from Pakistan, Venezuela, Thailand, Japan, Jamaica, China, Israel, and many more.
“It’s really the UN down here,” said Castellani. “Except, they’re all family owned businesses.”
The space is usually lightly crowded and quite vibrant.
“This was always meant to be a New York street scene down here,” she said. “It was meant to be casual, and non-pretentious.”
Some of DeKalb’s latest openings are the Brooklyn-based Sixpoint Brewery and a full-service cocktail bar. Both businesses have their own corner of the food hall — separated from the other stands by their own façades — so they can host guest DJs and events.
Now, management is looking for local or regional and experienced businesses to fill the few empty spaces left by the end of this year.
“We need people who have been in the restaurant business before, because this venue is not ideal for someone without operating experience,” Castellani explained. “We definitely look for hardworking family-owned or small operators. I’m more concerned about great food than I am about fame or their credit rating. You never know who is going to be successful in the space, but it requires a great work ethic.”
Castellani hopes to find a business that could use one of the spaces as a full restaurant of its own in the middle of the food hall, rather than as a grab-and-g0 food stand. She wants the site to offer a different experience for those people who enjoy the energy of the hub, but are looking for a slightly more conventional dining experience.
DeKalb Market has received great approval and good ratings from patrons on social media. With over 18,000 reviews on the restaurant reviewing app, Foursquare, the venue holds an 8.8 out of 10 score. Some express that the only thing keeping it from a perfect score are food prices.
“We had many different kinds of food, all small bites, and it didn’t even take much time because the service was great.” wrote @Tamara. “But be aware that you will spend more than what a ‘food court’ concept would usually suggest, even more than for a bunch of appetizers at a restaurant.”
Some of the vendors who kept their heads above water during the pandemic are now being hit by inflation. Prices of some important materials like sanitary gloves have increased over 30% according to staff. Increasing insurance rates are also a concern. Still, Castellani expects the vacant stands will be filled before the end of the year, though, as of late October, the search was ongoing.