Tampa’s first food hall is closing next month.
The Hall on Franklin will close on Dec. 15, the hall’s founder Jamal Wilson confirmed Wednesday night.
“We have made the decision to close the original Hall location on Franklin Street and move forward to open a Hall in Midtown and our new site in St. Petersburg,” Wilson said in an email.
“As great as the original Franklin Street site was, there are certain things we were not able to do there, such as outside dining, adding a private dining room and other amenities that are especially important amid COVID-19.”
When the popular Tampa Heights food hall first opened in 2017, it was the first of its kind in the Tampa Bay area. The 8,000-square-foot space featured seven food vendors and a model that included table service where guests could order from different restaurant concepts at once or visit each kiosk individually. The space also attracted several notable names in the restaurant and food world while acting as a launchpad for others.
Like other restaurants in the Tampa Bay area, the hall was forced to temporarily close in March, part of the state-mandated shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. In May, the landlord of the property at 1701 N Franklin St. filed an eviction lawsuit over unpaid rent and wrote in a filing that the food hall stopped paying rent in April and that Wilson was on the hook for nearly $47,500.
Wilson did not comment on the lawsuit, and the hall reopened in June. Since then, the food court has been operating with adaptations like contactless ordering, single-use menus, QR codes and curbside pick-up.
The hall’s closure comes at a time when food halls could be facing an uphill battle. Nearby food hall and event venue Armature Works is open, but plans for a similar food court at St. Petersburg’s Sundial from the Armature Works owners remain up in the air. A lawsuit filed last month from Sundial owner Bill Edwards claimed that the construction for the project was purposefully delayed as part of a plot to acquire the mall at a steep discount.
So far, no changes are afoot for Wilson’s other planned food hall projects, which include the Hall at Midtown, a new multi-restaurant concept opening inside Midtown Tampa, the sprawling mixed-use development at the southeast corner of N Dale Mabry Highway and Interstate 275. The 1.8 million-square-foot complex will include a dual-branded Aloft and Element hotel, an REI co-op, the Tampa Bay area’s largest Whole Foods Market and multiple restaurants.
Like the Hall on Franklin, the new food court will function as a full-service dining experience, where guests can order in a mix-and-match format from seven food concepts. There will also be a private dining room with a private kitchen and a digital golf driving lane. Wilson has not said when the Hall at Midtown will open, but the Midtown Tampa complex is set for an opening in early 2021.
Wilson is also involved in two other previously announced food halls, including a site in Orlando, and Hall on Central in St. Petersburg’s EDGE district. An opening date for the St. Pete location has not yet been announced.