Food Halls Are So Hot

Big-name Dallas chefs sign on with Plano's trendy new food hall

Big-name Dallas chefs sign on with Plano's trendy new food hall

Legacy Hall
Food halls are where it's at. Photo courtesy of Legacy Hall

A booming new food hall in Plano has signed up a slew of high-profile restaurateurs that include some very big names in Dallas dining.

Legacy Hall is the food-hall concept from Jack Gibbons and Randy DeWitt of Front Burner Restaurants (Velvet Taco, Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar). It's going into Legacy West, a massive mixed-use project being developed at Dallas North Tollway and State Highway 121. When the hall opens in fall 2017, it will host approximately two dozen food vendors, a full-service restaurant, a brewery and beer garden, and a live music stage.

Gibbons and DeWitt have been recruiting what they feel are the best restaurants and chefs in North Texas.

"Our philosophy has been, 'Who makes the best [blank] in Dallas-Fort Worth?'" Gibbons says. "Whether we're talking about a chef or a restaurant group or a food truck, we think, 'This is the best in DFW.'"

Their first wave of names included Matthew McCallister (FT33), Andrew Chen (Monkey King Noodle Company), and Robert and Kaci Lyford (Patina Green). Now, they have a second round:

  • An Indian wrap concept by chef Gilbert Garza, owner of Suze, and Mark Brezinski, co-founder of Pei Wei and Bengal Coast
  • Shawarma from Yaser Khalaf, owner of Baboush and Medina
  • Gourmet from Misery Loves Company, owner of Proof + Pantry and Madrina

Inspired by concepts in Europe, food halls have become one of the hottest national dining trends. They bring together a collection of restaurateurs, each of whom does his or her own little stall. One has already been announced for Uptown Dallas. Restaurateurs and chefs get to expand their brand with a lower investment up front, and the food hall benefits from having multiple food options in one place.

"It's a way that people can get a wide variety of choices and also get to see the people in the stalls cooking," Gibbons says. "It creates a kind of food theater."

He and DeWitt have visited many of the well-known food halls, such as Eataly in New York and Foodhallen in Amsterdam.

"New York City is currently the epicenter of food halls. You hear about new ones opening every few months," Gibbons says. "Randy and I thought this would be such a great fit in Dallas."

Legacy Hall will be three stories, with about 55,000 square feet — the size of a large supermarket — dedicated to the food hall portion. There'll be vendors on the first floor, a fast-casual restaurant and terrace overlooking the music stage on the second floor, and a craft brewery on the third floor.

Legacy Hall will service not only residents of West Plano and Frisco but also the built-in clientele of Legacy West, with employees from Toyota, Chase, and Liberty Mutual. The complex will also be home to a Renaissance Hotel, a high-end shopping center, and 621 apartments.

For chefs and restaurateurs, food halls are a way to get their name out with less personal risk.

"Real estate is so competitive, it's a hard time to be in the restaurant business," Gibbons says. "This is like a fast-casual incubator. They come in, and we have it set up so that the chef or restaurateur gets to focus on making excellent food. The people we're bringing on, we truly believe are the best restaurateurs and chefs in the market, so it's a win-win for everybody."