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North Loop gets second food hall

Chad Ellingboe, VP of operations, left, and the general manger for the North Loop location, Blake Sileo.

I was first introduced to the Galley Group’s concept in Cleveland, Ohio, so I had a bit of a déjà vu experience when I visited their newest food hall in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood right before its grand opening in early December. What made me think I had been there before was the styling of the large bar, surrounded by communal tables. The kitchens—fast-casual concepts tucked behind the bar—are allowed to sell nonalcoholic drinks, but all the alcohol comes from the communal bar operated by Galley. 

Only two out of four concepts were serving food in Cleveland when I was there a few months ago, but that’s not necessarily a red flag since the concept is designed as an incubator for new restaurant offerings. My dining companion had the Mac N Cheese (smoked gouda, Great Lakes American on cavatappi pasta) for $12 at Tinman and the Dressed Street Corn from Sauce the City. I had a hamburger in the $14 range. 

But what we ate doesn’t really matter, because the concepts are completely different in the North Loop. 

Chad Ellingboe, VP of operations out of corporate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, wasn’t concerned about two spaces in Cleveland being vacant. “Sometimes people find different opportunities like brick and mortar, or it’s not for them,” he says about the food hall concept. Contracts are flexible, and the four restaurant spaces are expected to roll over annually, although they can leave early or stay longer if needed.

The idea behind the food halls is for new concepts to launch with help from Galley staff. Galley builds out the spaces, including the kitchens, and provides business services, including reading new leases when the business moves on. Group marketing is part of the deal, as well as guidance on what they can do to promote their brands. 

What they don’t offer, however, Ellingboe says, is funding. 

Prospective tenants fill out an application and submit a business plan and sample menu to headquarters, who then goes through them deciding which concepts make the cut for phone and then in-person interviews.

The four that set up shop in the North Loop Galley in the new Nordic Building off Washington Ave. N.  are: 

Soul-Fu: Southeastern Asian Cuisine;

Wrecktangle Pizza: Detroit-style pizza through a Minnesota lens;

Thigh Times Birdhouse: the original chicken “wrib”;

Ono Hawaiian Plates.

Galley differs from Graze, a food hall just a few blocks away, for a number of reasons says, General Manager Blake Sileo. Galley “is more intimate and offers customers real plateware and glasses,” he says, adding that people may want to order at a fast-casual kitchen, but they like having the experience as close to full-service as they can. There’s no host, but “guides” will take on the servers’ role by delivering the food to the table and bussing tables. (At Graze, a two-story building, there are more food offerings and diners are texted when their food is ready.)

After ordering food from one or more  of the concepts, guests can get their drinks from the bar and find a seat at individual or communal tables. 

Another advantage, Sileo says, is that there are apartments and offices above the building, for a built-in customer base. 

Before coming to the North Loop, Galley opened food halls in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit. They see the locations having similar demographics, and the rents were similar in the North Loop and Cleveland, Ellingboe says.

Opening in December, especially in the Twin Cities, isn’t ideal, Ellingboe admits, but due to construction delays and other setbacks in all the cities, December seems to be their opening date across all cities. 

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