Downtown Raleigh is a bustling, lively area that is growing more popular as reconstruction and development progresses. Many new unique and trendy shops, restaurants, galleries, and offices are springing up — as well as gardens, amphitheaters, and walkways. In the heart of all the excitement is a hidden gem where visitors can stop and satisfy their cravings.
Located at 411 West Morgan Street, the Morgan Street Food Hall is the first of its kind in North Carolina. It’s a modern, new dining experience consisting of one large building that is home to many walk-up restaurants. It features 19 local eateries and restaurants, food retailers, and drink and dessert vendors, as well as stands selling flowers, candles, toffee, teas, and many other delights.
However, the Hall is not to be confused with a food court. It introduces the concept of cross meal ordering, in a contemporary and fashionable environment. Diners can grab a poké bowl from The Bowls, chicken and waffles from Iyla’s Southern Kitchen, and a bubble tea from Boba Brew to share with friends and family. In fact, nearly everything is sold individually or in small quantities to encourage the fusing of many different foods and cultures.
Large, Broadway-esque letters that read “Food Hall” illuminate the entrance to the building. After turning a corner, there’s a lobby with couches, art-filled walls, and yet another fluorescent “food hall” sign.
The lobby opens up into a big space bustling with visitors hopping from stall to stall. Customers line up to order in front of the counters that reside along the walls and center of the building. Employees then hand the customer a buzzer, which alerts them when their food is ready. There are several seating areas to choose from, including booths, benches, couches, tables, or outside. If time is running short, customers can also take their food to go.
Ramy Bahgat, owner of the rolled ice cream booth Raleigh Rolls, believes that the Food Hall is an important new element to the quickly developing area. “The vibe is much different [than a regular restaurant],” said Bahgat. “The… amount of people, the fact that people can go and get different food from different restaurants and all end up sitting together, puts them in a better mood.” In fact, the cross-meal-ordering concept is not only enjoyable for diners. According to Bahgat, it’s beneficial for restaurant owners and employees as well. “You have a lot of different restaurants around you, that you can ask a lot of different questions, and the experience that you get from other vendors and other…. restaurant owners, is absolutely amazing.”
Bahgat personally finds the Hall’s comfortable, swanky atmosphere to be especially charming. “The atmosphere is absolutely great.You can get totally different things, and still hang out with everybody,” said Bahgat. “The patio is pretty amazing, so on the nice summer days like this, you can just grab a drink, get something to eat, or grab a quick dessert, and just go sit on the patio– it’s beautiful. The excitement in the air makes you more excited, makes [me] even want to work more and give it all [my] best, the fact that everybody’s enjoying their time and having a good time makes [me] even wanna do more.”
Bahgat believes the Food Hall is a great experience that everyone can enjoy. He would recommend it to anyone who wants to try something new, eat an endless variety of delicious foods, and have a good time with friends and family.
In fact, while the Food Hall is North Carolina’s first of its kind, the concept is quickly gaining popularity all across the country. Bahgat mentioned that North Carolinians can expect to see more in the near future. “We got a few more scheduled to open by next year, and I think that’s a great, great idea to help businesses in Raleigh, help young chefs to get their own business started, and also, help the whole economy of Raleigh to boost.”
The Food Hall is a destination many Raleigh residents don’t even know exists. However, one can expect it to become very popular soon as the trend picks up speed. The concept of the Food Hall is simple, yet new and unique. It allows friends and family to all dine together, and still eat what they want to. Additionally, it provides a new platform for local business owners and chefs to gain publicity and let their business take off. Those who travel to downtown Raleigh should stop and visit the Morgan Street Food Hall to get a taste of the city and all of its flavors.