At 6,200 square feet, the Spot food hall in Rockville will be larger than the Block in Annandale, but it will share a similar vibe and feature vendors with similar foods.
“It's a similar concept,” says Edward Wong, a partner in the Spot. “But it's not really based on [the Block]. Asian food courts have been popular in New York and California.”
Wong is working with partners Vivian Zhu and Gary Ngo to create the Spot, which is expected to open next summer at the Metropolitan, a mixed-use development near Rockville Town Square. Ngo is also a founding partner of Poki District, one of the many Hawaiian-style poke purveyors that have recently popped up in the Washington area.
Poki District will hold down a spot at the Spot, along with two Taiwanese newcomers to the area: Gong Cha, a purveyor of bubble tea, and Cheers Cut, a specialist in fried chicken and seafood. Wong, the founder behind Akira Ramen and Izakaya in Rockville, also expects to develop his own bar as well as a dessert concept featuring Thai ice creams and bubble waffles, the trendy Hong Kong street food.
“We still have a couple more spots open,” Wong says. “I am looking for people to join us.”
By comparison, the Block features Pokeworks, a poke vendor, as well as Balo Kitchen (which specializes in “Asian comfort food"), Roots Thai Street Food, Snocream Company (a Taiwanese-style desserts concept), Munch Ice Cream (whose ice creams feature some Asian flavors and ingredients) and the Block Bar.
Like the Block, the Spot will feature an open seating area and a shared kitchen for vendors. But Wong promises the Spot will feel “more modern” than the Annandale food hall.
The Spot will be the latest to join the growing food hall movement, one remedy against the declining health of American shopping malls in the age of Amazon. The Washington region already has Union Market, but more are in the works, some arriving sooner than others.
Chef Mike Isabella's eponymous Eatery is expected to open in December in Tysons Galleria, and others are forthcoming with no immediate debut dates: James Beard Award-winning chef Jose Garces is working on a Latin-American marketplace near Union Market. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group is planning a multiunit dining concept in Southeast, and Masseria chef and owner Nicholas Stefanelli is developing a three-story Italian-themed market and restaurant complex at the Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront.
Wong, in fact, has a second food hall in development in College Park. He's not sure yet what he'll call the space inside the Terrapin Row development, but he's contemplating the Mini-Spot. As the name indicates, the food hall will be smaller than the Spot, with three or four vendors under one roof. Gong Cha and Poki District are expected to be among the vendors.
The smaller food hall is expected to open earlier than the Spot, Wong said. The unnamed project could debut as early as March or April at Terrapin Row.