After many years of planning, prospecting, meeting with tenants, negotiations, construction stops and starts, we finally reached a new milestone on November 27 – The opening of the highly anticipated food court at Union Station.
Rewind almost 6 years ago, to the first meeting with Osmington, to discuss the vision for the 170,000 SF of retail at Union Station.
The vision has been consistent over the years – the goal was to create a unique retail destination in the heart of the financial core. The food court had to be different – a curated mix of both national and local tenants. A place where commuters, event goers, office workers and residents could find a differentiating and relaxed atmosphere to grab a bite or those going to a game or concert could hang out, eat and socialize before heading out for the evening to the Scotiabank Arena with family or friends.
Head down the Go York Concourse, where you’ll find the escalators leading into the food court. At 8 a.m. McDonalds and Tim Horton’s already have long line-ups, while the rest of the food court is filled with people having meetings, working on laptops (WI-FI everywhere), parents and their kids are enjoying breakfast together before they start their day and friends are catching up and hanging out before work or school. Truly an eclectic mix of people, all gathered in one place and for one reason, to enjoy a meal and have a fun experience.
Arrive at 11:30 a.m., you’re already too late. It’s tough to find a seat or make a decision on what to eat from the array of tantalizing food offerings. Will it be a local operator like Loaded Pierogi, Roywoods, Sushi Shop, Bangkok Buri or Paramount? Or will it be a national tenant to satisfy your guilty pleasure like McDonald’s, Pizza Pizza or Tim Hortons? You decide to go with whichever has the shortest line because it doesn’t matter, it all looks good and you’d like to taste everything…eventually! Which means many more trips to the station.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the food court has been so well received and that so many people have somehow found it so quickly. After all, this was the vision, knowing that independent operators, who in some cases have no brand recognition in the financial core have been embraced because of the uniqueness of their food offerings is in itself very reassuring. It is a testimony to their open-mindedness and ability to be flexible and creative. And this is what attracted us to many of these independents, many of whom had no prior experience in either building out or operating a food court unit.
It required an open mind: a positive attitude, belief and then a leap of faith. To their credit, Torontonians are not only ready for, but are also embracing these different and new food experiences! Take Khao San Road for example, they took their street concept and customized it to fit the design and menu of a food court setting and experience, serving up chef-driven food in a fast paced and chaotic environment. You’ll be lucky if you find less than 20 people in line during the lunch hour rush!
For all involved, from the city, to the designers and collaborators GH+A and Partisans, to Osmington who believed in Union Station as a credible retail destination, the ambitious curation of the food court required an open mind and many jam sessions for it to have a positive outcome. Mission Accomplished!
Congrats to all of the collaborators and especially to all of the tenants!