Long considered risky bets for landlords, restaurants are becoming an essential ingredient for mixed-use developments as shoppers increasingly rely on their screens for purchasing everything from clothing to electronics.
“Restaurants have been one of the winners in the digital age,” says T.J. Barringer, director of development for Kane Realty. “It’s hard to online shop for dining out, so restaurants are safe from the internet at this point. For dining out, you have to go out.”
Eating out used to be a luxury for most Americans, but it’s becoming the norm. These changing consumer dining habits are another positive sign for restaurants. News outlets, including Fox Business, Quartz, and Eater, are reporting the growing trend of Americans relying on restaurants and prepared meals instead of buying groceries and cooking at home. While delivery services may put pressure on restaurants to fill dining rooms, restaurant kitchens seem to be more essential than ever for the average American.
Kendall Hash, a physician and mother of two, says that she cooks most of her family’s meals, and they go to North Hills to eat once or twice a week.
“We visit North Hills because of the proximity to our house, the variety of restaurants, and because we can do other errands while we are there,” she said. “We can go to the pharmacy, bank, and Target – it’s really one-stop shopping. It’s efficient and convenient for us.”
Although landlords have warmed to restaurants in retail centers, financing for eateries continues to be more challenging than for retail stores.
“A whole strip center of restaurants is going to be hard to finance because you don’t know if they are going to be successful, but when a restaurant is tied to a center like North Hills, it takes some of the risk away,” Barringer said.
North Hills is adding several new restaurants this year, including: CO, which will serve Vietnamese fare; Viva Chicken, specializing in Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken; bartaco, offering tacos and rice bowls; Vita Vite, a wine bar that serves small plates; and Happy + Hale, offering fresh and fast healthy options. These new restaurants join North Hills’ lineup of nearly 40 dining options.
Barringer believes the mix of restaurants, stores, services, and offices is the formula for North Hills’ ongoing success and growth.
“Creating a place people enjoy going is a very sustainable version of retail,” says Barringer. “Having a variety of tenants means people are coming here for all kinds of reasons, and you see people cross-shopping. This is a model that retailers are going to rely on more and more in the future.”