Hub Hall wonâ€™t tout highbrow fare, unlike many of its counterparts; instead, itâ€™s offering foodÂ and drinkÂ that Bostonians hold dear, said Ariel Gardner, the head of marketing for Patina Group, a restaurant subsidiary of Delaware North, which is codeveloping the Hub on Causeway. Its slogan is â€œBoston Eats Here.â€
In addition to Sullyâ€™s and Mikeâ€™s,Â Hub Hall will includeÂ an outpost of Monicaâ€™s Mercato from the North End, a Cusserâ€™s Roast Beef & Seafood stand from the Back Bayâ€™s Mooncusser Fish House, a branch of the North Shoreâ€™s Sauce Burger chain, and barbecue fromÂ Andy Husbandsâ€™ Smoke Shop.
While Time Out Market
is associated with a global brand, â€œHub Hall is nothing without the brands that we partner with,â€ said Don Bailey, Hub Hallâ€™s director of operations. The goal, he said, is â€œto create something truly unique to Boston.â€
When all 18 stalls are up and running,Â Gardner said, theyâ€™ll pull in travelers and event-goers all day and into the night. At least five restaurants will serve breakfast during the week, starting at 5:30 a.m., and the hall will stay open an hour after events endÂ atÂ TD Garden.
There was, of course, a time when food courts were best known for their uniformity: Visit any rest stop or mall in America, and you could probably find a Sbarro pizza or a Panda Express.
But todayâ€™s younger restaurant-goers want diversity and convenience, and the same factors that prompted the rise of the fast-casual lunch boom have contributed to the rise of the food hall craze, said Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. â€œThe food hall is really the food court for the new millennium,â€ Luz said.
And restaurateurs like them, he said, because â€œtheyâ€™re an interesting business model in that it allows restaurants to expand their footprint with limited labor.â€
Luz is in the unusual position of rooting for both the established eateries and bars near the Garden that have come to rely on game-day crowds and for their new competitors in the Causeway complex. In addition to Hub Hall, they will include the 575-seat Banners Kitchen & Tap restaurant, a 65-seat bar and lounge in the ArcLight Cinema, andÂ Guy Fieriâ€™s 60-seat Tequila Cocina restaurant inside the Big Night Live concert hall.
Luz is hopeful the arrival of hundreds of new restaurant seats wonâ€™t gut the neighborhoodâ€™s existing food businesses. At the same time, he worries that the cyclical nature of an entertainment center â€” tables routinely empty before the tip-off or the puck drop â€” will leave it struggling to draw a steady year-round crowd.
â€œThe one question I have is, are there enough people there who are going to support it?â€ he asked.Â â€œIâ€™m just not 100 percent certain that thereâ€™s enough there there to really keep these things up and running and full.â€
But forÂ a business like Sullyâ€™s, the allure of the Garden â€” and the chance to join a quintessentially Boston food hall â€” proved irresistible. â€œTheir pitch was: Itâ€™s all the places that only locals would know,â€ said Michelle Leone, a manager at Sullyâ€™s. â€œTo bring a little bit of Southie to the Garden was a great opportunity.â€