Food hall concept creator coming to Detroit - Sachse Construction
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Food hall concept creator coming to Detroit

Pittsburgh food hall concept creator Galley Group Inc. plans to open its fourth incubator in the former Federal Reserve building in downtown Detroit.

Galley Group will house four chefs for yearlong terms in an open, market-style space on the ground floor corner of the 160 W. Fort St. building, Galley Group co-founder Benjamin Mantica said.

Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock LLC owns the building and made the announcement Thursday.

Food halls and other short-term platforms can give chefs an opportunity to test ideas publicly before taking up the risk and overhead costs of a full-fledged restaurant.

The four chefs Galley Group selects will get full kitchen and restaurant set-ups rent-free, mentoring opportunities and front-of-house employees, Mantica said. Galley takes 30 percent of net sales and chefs are responsible for food, cooking staff and whoever runs its point-of-sales system.

“The idea is that in that year, they build up their following, they build up some notoriety and figure out what works or doesn’t work with their concept,” he said.

Galley Group is open to extending the yearlong terms, however.

The company aims to spend “a couple million dollars” building out the space and four kitchens, Mantica said. “We’re gonna leave a lot of the bones of the building exposed, because it is such an amazing building,” he said.

The 8,646-square-foot Detroit version of the concept, which does not yet have a name, will have a main bar with local beer and spirits and seat 200-250 communal style.

Items tend to range from $6 to $19, Mantica said. Tickets will likely average $12-$14 for lunch and $15-$17 for dinner, but it’s difficult to say because customers tend to order from more than one vendor for a meal, he said.

Detroit applications are open and close May 1.

Galley Group will narrow the pool to eight, Mantica said. They’ll be looking at both first-timers and experienced eatery owners, with an eye for ideas that fill gaps in the market’s food scene. The finalists will then pitch to Detroit-area food writers and industry experts.

Mantica and co-founder Tyler Benson started their first food hall, Smallman Galley, in Pittsburgh in 2015. They now have another in Pittsburgh and plan to open in Cleveland this summer.

The Fort Street building also houses the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News and their joint business operations; Maru Sushi & Grill; and architecture firm Rossetti Inc.

Gilbert acquired the 176,000-square-foot building in 2012.

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