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04/13/2022

Food Halls Get a Digital Boost with a Custom-Designed Tech Solution

SpotOn's custom solutions designed for food halls powers Plant City, POST Houston and Zeppelin Station.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor - Restaurants
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SpotOn QR code Post Market
SpotOn was able to adapt and evolve its system to meet the specific needs of a food hall -- from online and QR ordering to integrated reporting across vendors to seamless revenue sharing models.

Some of the country’s food halls, including Plant City Food Hall Post Market  and Zeppelin Station have partnered with SpotOn's restaurant management platform.

Food halls give independent restaurants the opportunity to expand through an outpost with a built-in audience and reduced overhead costs. Food halls are well-positioned to thrive in the post-pandemic economy with an increasing consumer demand for more takeout options and added excitement around the ability to gather communally again. Cloud-based technology is helping to make the model more profitable and easier to manage for operators and independent restaurants alike.

Through its partnership with a few early adopters, SpotOn was able to adapt and evolve its system to meet the specific needs of a food hall -- from online and QR ordering to integrated reporting across vendors to seamless revenue sharing models, to intuitive hardware and software for fast and easy staff training. SpotOn is designed to give hall owners visibility into their overall operation while empowering individual operators to run and grow their bus

[75% of consumers prefer to order delivery direct from the restaurant, according to HT's 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study.]

As diverse food hall models emerge - from venues with multiple concepts owned by a single brand to spaces with multiple independent operators - the need for flexible, customizable systems has become more important than ever. The SpotOn technology that is powering food halls across the country is designed to help manage staffing shortages, driving revenue, and enhancing the guest experience. 

Plant-Based Options

After working with SpotOn for their first plant-based drive-thru concept,Plant City X, Frohman and Kim Anderson knew they needed SpotOn technology to run their 10,000 square foot Plant City, a plant-based vegan food hall and marketplace with concepts by internationally acclaimed chef Matthew Kenney. 

Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Plant City was approaching its two-year anniversary when the team realized that the high-volume operation with multiple self-owned concepts needed an enterprise solution. More than an end-to-end solution that would enable them to run a more efficient and profitable operation across four restaurants and three bars, the team knew they needed a partner in their success.

“What sold us with SpotOn is that the entire company holds their clients in very high esteem and they ensure continuity,” said Frohman Anderson, Owner of Plant City.  “We are so dependent on our IT partner, I need to have faith in them and with SpotOn I do. We have our dedicated rep Annie, and a whole team of problem solvers who are responsive to the customization needs for our business.”

Today Plant City is powered by SpotOn Restaurant’s fully-integrated restaurant platform with 10 point-of-sale terminals, 15 SpotOn Serve handhelds, and 2 Kitchen Display Screens (KDS). SpotOn Order helps Plant City drive additional revenue without the third-party fees through a commission-free online ordering platform that offers pacing and text messaging capabilities. During peak periods, SpotOn Serve handhelds are used for line-busting to increase throughput. Tying it all together with essential real-time insights, SpotOn’s industry-leading reporting gives managers the data to drive strategic decisions to improve operations and increase revenue. 

Everything Is Bigger in Texas

Post Market features 43 local and international vendors with quick service, full service, and market-style service right in the heart of Houston. SpotOn was uniquely positioned to serve both Post Market as an entity, as well as its individual vendors like Golfstrommen Seafood Market and East Side King with a consistent experience. In addition, SpotOn powers Post’s 713 Music Hall with handhelds and KDS screens.

“The beauty of food halls is you get a lot of small independent operators together under one roof, but with that comes a lot of different technology needs. The customization part was extremely important in making this decision and gives us the ability to create a great experience for our vendors and guests.” 

With Post Market’s vendor revenue-sharing model, transparency and trust for both sides are key. SpotOn’s enterprise-level reporting and shared services capabilities offer all parties quick access to data through SpotOn’s 90+ reports, detailing everything from hourly sales and labor costs to top-performing menu items. More than providing a consistent back-end experience, the uniformity of technology throughout the hall helps cultivate a cohesive aesthetic. Post Market also offers their customers venue-wide gift cards and a shared loyalty program, also powered by SpotOn, adding to the cohesive guest experience.

86% of restaurants surveyed say they’re leveraging POS data for loyalty programs and for upselling/special offers in 2022, according to HT's 2022 POS Software Trends report

The customizability that SpotOn was able to provide to individual vendors with SpotOn Restaurant’s fully-integrated point-of-sale as well as online ordering, QR Code, and individual reporting capabilities was essential to Post Market’s business model. From the vendor's perspective, the flexibility of SpotOn’s platform was key to serving vendors and customers. For example, at Golfstrømmen, the flexibility of the point-of-sale plus integrated barcode scanners and scales allows them to sell a filet of salmon as a retail item or a prepared food item with modifiers.

“SpotOn’s versatility was integral to the success of a food hall of our size,” said Kirby Liu of Lovett Commercial, the developers of Post Houston. “The beauty of food halls is you get a lot of small independent operators together under one roof, but with that comes a lot of different technology needs. The customization part was extremely important in making this decision and gives us the ability to create a great experience for our vendors and guests.” 

A Mile-High Concept 

Zeppelin Stationis an immersive 100,000-square-foot creative workplace and market hall in Denver’s RiNo district, featuring 8 restaurant concepts and a full-service bar from FAM Hospitality Group. The first floor offers quick-service concepts, while the mezzanine level offers a full-service restaurant experience, all running on SpotOn Restaurant across 13 stations, 6 handhelds, and 11 KDS. 

Paul Qui, one of the founders of FAM Hospitality Group, worked with SpotOn while opening his concept at POST Food Hall last fall. When he took over the food service management at Zeppelin Station, Paul knew he needed to have all their data under one roof with the ability to manage revenue streams across concepts, publish menu data, and more. Paul worked with the team at SpotOn to get Zeppelin Station up and running on SpotOn Restaurant, complete with Marketing, Reporting, and Review Management, as well as leveraging SpotOn Order, SpotOn Giftcards, and SpotOn Loyalty.

“While there are plenty of point-of-sale providers out there, SpotOn is the only one to offer us the ability to scale and own our data” explained Qui. “With flexible processing and no contracts, SpotOn is also an incredibly business-friendly option for independents like FAM Hospitality looking to build up our brand.” 

While the pandemic stalled new food hall development, food halls are predicted to pick up steam due to their flexibility, durability, and lower risk of investment for independent restaurateurs looking to try out or expand a concept. According to Cushman & Wakefield, food halls were more resilient compared to other retail categories during the pandemic, with 75% able to stay open by pivoting to a ghost kitchen model. Flexible formats supported by customizable tech will continue to be key to success for both independent restaurants and food halls in the future.