Fort Street Galley food hall closing after just 14 months in Detroit
Located in the city center for almost 15 months, the Fort Street Galley Food Hall abruptly pulls the plug after a rocky run.
A representative of the Pittsburgh-based Galley Group, which operates the Detroit Food Hall with several other locations in the Midwest, confirmed that the Fort Street Galley will be permanently closed at the end of business on Friday.
“There were several factors that led to this difficult outcome, including the decision to reduce our operations nationwide and focus energy on our flagship locations in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis,” said Chad Ellingboe, vice president of operations for the Galley Group , in a statement.
The closure takes place as the group is apparently being downsized in the face of a major change in leadership. Friday is also the last day for the Galley Group’s Cleveland Food Hall, which opened around the same time as Detroit’s. And a Chicago outpost closed after just five months of operation last fall, around the time that Ben Mantica, one of the company’s two co-founders, left the group. (Sources familiar with the company’s operations say Tyler Benson also recently left the Galley Group.)
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JP Garcia, who runs the popular Filipino booth Isla with his wife Jacqueline Diño, said they were made aware of the closing on Tuesday, but the short-term announcement was a long time coming.
“We’re in the heart of downtown, but business has never picked up,” said Garcia. “Dinner was always a hit or miss. It wouldn’t be enough to cover the rent. … I suspected snowballs might come downhill when they decided to close two days a week. The Sales weren’t there and they’re going to lose two more days of sales so I had a hunch so it really wasn’t a surprise to me.
“But I still had hope that they would try to at least revise it somehow.”
Isla was the last of the four original stalls to open on the Fort Street Galley debut in December 2018. The Galley Group positioned itself as an incubator for restaurant talent and pursued a slightly different business model than a typical food hall. of revenue from vendors to meet almost all business expenses outside of groceries and labor. (Traditionally, most grocery stores act as landlords, and sellers simply rent space from the operations group while they cover their own operating costs.)
While the Galley Group’s model has proven successful in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Garcia said it didn’t work in Detroit.
“Hindsight, with the incubator-style concept that 30% is really a killer,” Garcia said. “That destroyed most of the stands that were here.” I’ve worked on the booth every day since day one. And that was probably the only way I could survive because I could control those labor costs. “
Signs of trouble for the Fort Street Galley appeared early. Two of its original suppliers, the Korean sushi spot Pursue and the Mediterranean sandwich slinger Allenby, received the boot from management before the end of the six months because they had not reached their sales figures, despite the opening suppliers having agreed for a year.
At that time, the founders agreed to some missteps, pointing out issues such as bad weather, lack of parking and high prices as reasons for the fights in the food hall, but also promised to adapt. They brought in vendors that were successful elsewhere in the Galley Group, like the South-inspired table and Detroit-style Michigan & Trumbull pizza outpost, as well as a trendy fried chicken shop.
The changes seemed to be of little help, especially as the booming restaurant scene in Metro Detroit is showing other signs of slowing. Though the tenure was much shorter, Fort Street Galley joins a growing number of high profile restaurant closings in the first two months of 2020, including Gold Cash gold and craftwork in Detroit and Greenspace Cafe and Bistro 82 in Oakland County.
Regarding the space at Fort Street Galley, a representative from the landlord Bedrock said he is actively reviewing future uses of the space and is also working to find placements for food hall employees across Bedrock’s portfolio.
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