Las Vegas Strip food courts expand due to changing demand

This is, it seems, the era of the food court in Las Vegas, with the opening of new and old ones getting bigger or refreshing. Think of it as the latest example of the city continually redefining itself.

For decades, anything that came close to an American food court or a European food court was quite rare on the Strip.

“Remember that at one point the idea was to eat cheap, cheap rooms – and you’ll pay for it at the table,” said Michael Green, associate professor of history at UNLV. “For this reason, it wasn’t necessarily beneficial, even for a fast food restaurant chain, to be involved, when they have their own bottom line. “

Plus, Green said, during the bustle of Las Vegas, few big companies wanted the public to identify them with a casino. But the changes brought by the corporate age, coupled with changing customer tastes, have resulted in change.

“There’s what you might call an increased commitment to a comfort level,” Green said. “If you come here to do new things and have fun, it’s also good to have a little familiarity. And for a lot of people, that applies to the brands they’re used to at home.

Familiar names punctuate Feel Good Brands’ new $ 9 million food court at Circus Circus – the first in the property’s 53-year history, which follows the expiration of an exclusive long-term contract with McDonald’s.

“We believe in national brands,” said Feel Good founder Lincoln Spoor. “We think people prefer brands, but not all brands. Everyone wants to be in (a casino), but we have high expectations on the people we work with.

An increased demand for variety is also driving the boom in food court / food halls.

“Las Vegas has become a destination for food tourism,” said Green.

With that come new expectations, he said.

“Yes, a lot of people are going to come here for Wolfgang Puck and other big names, but it also means that they expect more variety than (back then) where their choice was a cafe, possibly a venue. gourmet food and a buffet, ”says Vert. “There are a lot of people who like a good sit-down dinner. There are also people who want to take their food and go back to the table or whatever else they are doing.

Millennial effect

Christine Bergman, professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, says the change is due to the increase in millennial visitors.

“Millennials really like to personalize things,” she said. “A food court or food hall would make sense to them because they like to have a choice. “

Two properties from Caesars Entertainment illustrate the change.

Alyssa Mendes, vice president of food and beverage at Harrah’s, The Linq and Flamingo, said when Fulton Street Food Hall opened at Harrah’s in 2014, that meant seven offerings were replacing one restaurant. And they kept changing.

“We have evolved the stations according to the trends,” she said. “We used to have made-to-order salads, which have moved because of the pandemic” to a pop-up omelet station which will in turn become a carving station during the holidays.

She said the Fulton Street Food Hall attracts a wide variety of people.

“The average guest who comes for a weekend ends up going at least once in the morning and once for another meal,” she said. “It’s very useful.”

The offerings of the Forum Food Hall at Caesars Palace have also continuously evolved since its inception approximately 10 years ago. Unlike Harrah’s, whose casino-branded outlets will be joined by a big name for the first time when Bobby Flay’s Bobby’s Burgers opens in December, there are more familiar names.

“Brand recognition is a big part of what we do,” said Christopher Carraher, director of food and beverage for Caesars Palace. “We have such fabulous partner chefs in our many restaurants. We transport this to the dining room, so customers can have a Bobby Flay experience or a DiFara pizza. “


Other properties take a different path from what they offer, valuing unknown choices as much as variety.

Famous Foods, a 16-stall food court that opened with Resorts World in June, represents 11 nations and four U.S. states, said Bart Mahoney, vice president of food and beverage. They include Ah Chun Shandong Dumpling, Kuru Kuru Pa Yakitori, Char Kuey Teow by Googgle Man, Geylong Claypot Rice, Pepita’s Kitchen by Lechon Diva and Streetbird by Marcus Samuelsson.

“We wanted to get staples from reputable hawkers,” Mahoney said. “Marcus Samuelsson has an unparalleled three-point sandwich, and one that I have eaten twice in the past three days.”

Joseph Lema, chair of the food and beverage and event management department at UNLV, said unique choices can be as important as brand recognition.

“It can be a toss,” Lema said, “that they see something new or something different that they’ve never had before.”

“Action is part of it”

Another attraction is the inherent open kitchen concept.

“I think people want food that’s cooked in front of them,” Mahoney said. “You can see the freshness and the quality. I think it’s important for people. “The action is part of it – seeing the wok work, seeing people slice, braise. It’s funny.”

Lema said being able to lead the action was also part of the call.

“They want speed and they want to control their experience,” he said. “Service is on customer’s terms. You can order from your phone, over the counter, get take out. With full service catering, you are somewhat at the mercy of the server. With the halls / food courts, “you have better control over the time and pace of your activity”.

Another change that has been driven by technology as much as changing tastes is the increased demand for delivery. Harrah’s and Caesars allow guests to order from one of their food hall restaurants and have it delivered to one of the resort bars or to their room.

“It has completely replaced our traditional room service,” Carraher said.

At Famous Foods electronic kiosks, up to 4,000 guests per day order simultaneously from multiple food outlets (except the bar).

“When you see people in these kiosks, with their eyes you can see that they are having as much fun as the people cooking,” said Mahoney.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at [email protected] To follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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