Manchester’s Hatch Local food hall calling it quits after two years

hatch local inside 1536x1152 Cropped

Hatch Local was the first modern food hall to open in the city in 2022. (BizSense file photos)

The food hall trend that’s proven popular in other cities appears to be fading in Richmond.

Hatch Local Food Hall, the first such concept of its kind in the city limits at 400-414 Hull St. in Manchester, plans to cease operations this spring after two years in business. 

The food hall’s space will be repurposed for use by Hatch Kitchen, a local food incubator that co-owned and operated the food hall with local real estate development firm Lynx Ventures. Their exact plans for the space have yet to be announced. 

The pending closure comes just weeks after EAT Restaurant Partners, one of the city’s biggest restaurant groups, confirmed that it is scrapping plans to open a food hall in Scott’s Addition. It would have been the second food hall in the city. 

Hatch Local spans 9,000 square feet across two suites in The Current, a mixed-use development that Lynx kicked off in 2018 and completed in 2021. The food hall opened in early 2022 with stalls that are rented out to separate operators. 

Of the decision to close, Lynx co-founder Bernard Harkless said operating the food hall was fundamentally difficult. 

Bernard Harkless

Bernard Harkless

“It was seven different business owners and seven different expectations to manage,” Harkless said. “It’s just a lot of moving pieces.” 

“I think going forward, we’ve got some better ways to better serve the larger food and beverage ecosystem that’s pretty robust in town,” Harkless said of the group’s future use of the food hall space, without going into further detail.

Hatch Local’s last day is planned to be March 31, after which Hatch Kitchen and Lynx will begin pivoting the space toward another use that Harkless said they’ll announce in the coming weeks. It’s likely to be under the Hatch Kitchen brand, which also operates logistics and packaged goods-focused divisions.

“It was always the vision for (the food hall) to be a place that people can come for a little while, refine their business plan and their product, and then hopefully move out to do something different, whether that’s focusing on catering and/or going to brick-and-mortar,” Harkless said. “We always envisioned it being a stepping stone to something else. So in this iteration, we’re pivoting to something different.”

The food hall’s existing tenants also are now forced to pivot, with some already looking to take their concepts into a more standalone brick-and-mortar operation.  

dunharrow1

Jon Martin and Liz Clifford

Jon Martin and Liz Clifford have operated Fat Kid Sandwiches at the food hall since its opening in 2022, and while the couple said they’ve enjoyed being part of the Hatch Local community, they’re now accelerating their plans for their restaurant’s next chapter. 

“It obviously isn’t great (that the food hall’s closing),” Clifford said. “I thought that we worked to make something pretty cool out of the food hall but I understand that Hatch has to make a financial decision and they’re doing what is best for them. 

“We actually had a bunch of plans working that we’re going to have to turn the dial up to 11 on. So you’ll see a new version of Fat Kid Sandwiches coming soon.” 

One of the food hall’s newest tenants, chicken sandwich concept 1115 Mobile Kitchen, had just opened its stall in November after years as a food truck. While it will be short-lived, owner Henry Fletcher said operating at Hatch Local was both a good trial run for running 1115 outside of the food truck and a way to bring in some business during the slow winter food truck season. 

Now with the food hall going away, Fletcher’s continuing to press the gas on his bigger plans for 1115. 

“When they announced what was going to be happening with the food hall, I honestly just used it as an opportunity to move forward to the next project, which is to get us into a full brick-and-mortar,” Fletcher said. “So that’s what we’re looking at now. We’re trying to find a place that fits our needs.”

11.25 1115 Mobile Kitchen

Henry Fletcher recently launched 1115 Mobile Kitchen, a food truck that serves Southern food with vegan options for menu items that feature meat. (Courtesy of 1115 Mobile Kitchen)

Fat Kid Sandwiches and 1115 would not be the first vendors to leave the food hall for their own space. 

Odyssey Fish, owned by the folks behind Alewife restaurant, was one of the original Hatch Local tenants before relocating to the West End. Mexican-American concept Sincero recently left Hatch for a full-service space in Jackson Ward.

Other current tenants at the food hall include Cambodian spot Royal Pig, farmhouse-style eatery Grace, Greek on Cary and TBT Gallito, the last three of which opened in Hatch Local last year

The rapidly growing Lindsey Food Group was part of Hatch Local’s opening lineup with two concepts: Bully Burger and fried chicken spot Buttermilk and Honey, both of which exited the food hall last year. 

In the two years it was open Hatch Local continuously tweaked its business model. After initially opening only with counter service and QR codes, it later added table service and physical menus. The food hall also has a full bar and had a coffee stand that closed last year, both which were operated by Hatch.

“We learned a lot about what didn’t work and what did,” Harkless said. “(Hatch is) somewhat doing things that haven’t been done before, so with that we’re going to be learning along the way ourselves.”

hatch local building scaled

Hatch Local is split between two suites that are separated by a courtyard at The Current.

Clifford of Fat Kid Sandwiches said she’d previously worked out of the Union Market food hall in D.C. and noted the differences between their operations and Hatch Local’s. 

“I think this food hall’s very different than a lot of the other ones,” Clifford said. 

“(Union Market) has way, way, way more vendors and they’re much smaller-scale. I think there’s like 100 different vendors and very, very few of them are anywhere near the size that all the businesses in Hatch Local are. It’s more like a market and less food court-style.”

hatch local inside 1536x1152 Cropped

Hatch Local was the first modern food hall to open in the city in 2022. (BizSense file photos)

The food hall trend that’s proven popular in other cities appears to be fading in Richmond.

Hatch Local Food Hall, the first such concept of its kind in the city limits at 400-414 Hull St. in Manchester, plans to cease operations this spring after two years in business. 

The food hall’s space will be repurposed for use by Hatch Kitchen, a local food incubator that co-owned and operated the food hall with local real estate development firm Lynx Ventures. Their exact plans for the space have yet to be announced. 

The pending closure comes just weeks after EAT Restaurant Partners, one of the city’s biggest restaurant groups, confirmed that it is scrapping plans to open a food hall in Scott’s Addition. It would have been the second food hall in the city. 

Hatch Local spans 9,000 square feet across two suites in The Current, a mixed-use development that Lynx kicked off in 2018 and completed in 2021. The food hall opened in early 2022 with stalls that are rented out to separate operators. 

Of the decision to close, Lynx co-founder Bernard Harkless said operating the food hall was fundamentally difficult. 

Bernard Harkless

Bernard Harkless

“It was seven different business owners and seven different expectations to manage,” Harkless said. “It’s just a lot of moving pieces.” 

“I think going forward, we’ve got some better ways to better serve the larger food and beverage ecosystem that’s pretty robust in town,” Harkless said of the group’s future use of the food hall space, without going into further detail.

Hatch Local’s last day is planned to be March 31, after which Hatch Kitchen and Lynx will begin pivoting the space toward another use that Harkless said they’ll announce in the coming weeks. It’s likely to be under the Hatch Kitchen brand, which also operates logistics and packaged goods-focused divisions.

“It was always the vision for (the food hall) to be a place that people can come for a little while, refine their business plan and their product, and then hopefully move out to do something different, whether that’s focusing on catering and/or going to brick-and-mortar,” Harkless said. “We always envisioned it being a stepping stone to something else. So in this iteration, we’re pivoting to something different.”

The food hall’s existing tenants also are now forced to pivot, with some already looking to take their concepts into a more standalone brick-and-mortar operation.  

dunharrow1

Jon Martin and Liz Clifford

Jon Martin and Liz Clifford have operated Fat Kid Sandwiches at the food hall since its opening in 2022, and while the couple said they’ve enjoyed being part of the Hatch Local community, they’re now accelerating their plans for their restaurant’s next chapter. 

“It obviously isn’t great (that the food hall’s closing),” Clifford said. “I thought that we worked to make something pretty cool out of the food hall but I understand that Hatch has to make a financial decision and they’re doing what is best for them. 

“We actually had a bunch of plans working that we’re going to have to turn the dial up to 11 on. So you’ll see a new version of Fat Kid Sandwiches coming soon.” 

One of the food hall’s newest tenants, chicken sandwich concept 1115 Mobile Kitchen, had just opened its stall in November after years as a food truck. While it will be short-lived, owner Henry Fletcher said operating at Hatch Local was both a good trial run for running 1115 outside of the food truck and a way to bring in some business during the slow winter food truck season. 

Now with the food hall going away, Fletcher’s continuing to press the gas on his bigger plans for 1115. 

“When they announced what was going to be happening with the food hall, I honestly just used it as an opportunity to move forward to the next project, which is to get us into a full brick-and-mortar,” Fletcher said. “So that’s what we’re looking at now. We’re trying to find a place that fits our needs.”

11.25 1115 Mobile Kitchen

Henry Fletcher recently launched 1115 Mobile Kitchen, a food truck that serves Southern food with vegan options for menu items that feature meat. (Courtesy of 1115 Mobile Kitchen)

Fat Kid Sandwiches and 1115 would not be the first vendors to leave the food hall for their own space. 

Odyssey Fish, owned by the folks behind Alewife restaurant, was one of the original Hatch Local tenants before relocating to the West End. Mexican-American concept Sincero recently left Hatch for a full-service space in Jackson Ward.

Other current tenants at the food hall include Cambodian spot Royal Pig, farmhouse-style eatery Grace, Greek on Cary and TBT Gallito, the last three of which opened in Hatch Local last year

The rapidly growing Lindsey Food Group was part of Hatch Local’s opening lineup with two concepts: Bully Burger and fried chicken spot Buttermilk and Honey, both of which exited the food hall last year. 

In the two years it was open Hatch Local continuously tweaked its business model. After initially opening only with counter service and QR codes, it later added table service and physical menus. The food hall also has a full bar and had a coffee stand that closed last year, both which were operated by Hatch.

“We learned a lot about what didn’t work and what did,” Harkless said. “(Hatch is) somewhat doing things that haven’t been done before, so with that we’re going to be learning along the way ourselves.”

hatch local building scaled

Hatch Local is split between two suites that are separated by a courtyard at The Current.

Clifford of Fat Kid Sandwiches said she’d previously worked out of the Union Market food hall in D.C. and noted the differences between their operations and Hatch Local’s. 

“I think this food hall’s very different than a lot of the other ones,” Clifford said. 

“(Union Market) has way, way, way more vendors and they’re much smaller-scale. I think there’s like 100 different vendors and very, very few of them are anywhere near the size that all the businesses in Hatch Local are. It’s more like a market and less food court-style.”

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Michelle Reynolds
Michelle Reynolds
1 month ago

I almost always visit the food hall in any new city I travel to. Generally, in other cities the food hall will be in a building with both more character and foot traffic from surrounding area. And they also tend to have many more vendors than Hatch had. But one of the differences with Hatch that made the vibe suffer for me was the QR code ordering. Yes, many of prefer self-checkout at the grocery these days. But I part of the intangible charm of a food hall is eliminated when you are ordering from a tablet with no human… Read more »

Stephen Weisensale
Stephen Weisensale
1 month ago

I agree! I absolutely hate the QR code ordering system. I will usually leave and go elsewhere when I see one as the only way to order. It seems anthitecital to the idea of establishing your upstart brand with your customers.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago

That and lack of consistent hours as sometimes at lunch a vendor (or two) would be randomly closed. Then you heard people say the small portions and high prices were just too much; parking was a hassle (and yes we are car city)….Reddit users comments starting last fall could see this coming. Sad it is closing. Also, do not get the overly positive article above. The vendors that just opened and had to have spent capital (one just 11 days ago had an article on how happy it was to be in the Hall on this very site) are ready… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

My favorite is one I recently found in Brooklyn between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges — LOTS of different vendors. Classy atmosphere without being stuffy or intimidating.

Kenneth Dance
Kenneth Dance
1 month ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Is that in DUMBO?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Kenneth Dance

Definately NEAR DUMBO, but I am not sure where the borders are. The second floor had GREAT views of the Manhattan Bridge that my daughter took photos from. I hadn’t been in DUMBO since the early aughts, when I had several friends who rented work studios there. Living in most of those buildings was still illegal, and difficult (most didn’t have heat and the only bathroom was just a one john in a closet per floor, worse than a 19th century tenement) several times Guilliani or whoever would order a raid on one or another of those buildings even in… Read more »

karl hott
karl hott
1 month ago

There are plenty of Manchester residents to sustain sit down restaurants but a food court lacks ambiance and the experiential element. The Continental is doing very well.

Matt Klaman
Matt Klaman
1 month ago

Great concept, poor execution on many fronts from the single time I went there. We need a Reading Terminal Market like in Philadelphia – we just don’t have the scale to sustain it most likely.

Peter James
Peter James
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Klaman

Good point, Matt. Question: when you say RVA doesn’t have the ‘scale’ – are you talking population/market size? If so, then I’d say you’re likely 100% spot on. Seems like cities where food halls are succeeding are all significantly larger than Richmond. What works easily in Philly – a city of 1.5 million residents – would be a real stretch in a city with a population of 230,000. Philly’s city-proper population (1.5 million) is greater than that of the entirety of the RVA metro (1.4 million). Now I’m no expert when it comes to these kinds of businesses, but I’d… Read more »

Bob Wilkus
Bob Wilkus
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter James

That’s not the issue, the issue it needs to be in a better part of town.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Wilkus

Yeah, but…. aren’t things like that closing in Scott’s Add? I think the scale issue is VERY apt — ever since I first really explored Richmond I was floored by the number of quality restaurants for its size — like a gigantic Ithaca, NY But without a truly large wealthy population Richmond has also been, as a non-Richmond Proper restaurant owner told me “Where Restaurants Go To Die” —- I’ve seen a lot of great spots fail in Richmond and I am sad to see this one go because I liked it. Frankly, I think we have been in a… Read more »

Michelle Reynolds
Michelle Reynolds
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Klaman

It is true that a city can’t just create a public market of the size and scope of Reading Terminal Market from scratch. RTM been around 130 years and a large part of what makes it thrive are the dutch/amish merchants and the other family merchants who have been there for generations. Not to mention Philly’s larger downtown residential population and tourism draw.. I’m not sure how many other markets you’ve been to in the U.S. but Milwaukee Public Market or North Market in Columbus OH are probably more realistic examples for Richmond to aim for. Atlanta has multiple food… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

I’ve long wanted Richmond to use the train shed for this sort of thing— market-foodhall — think of it — it is visible and easily accessable from the busiest Interstate in the country, right at the train station.

Milwalkee may have what I call “the only game in Town” thing going for it — Pittsburgh, Louisville, KC — they benefit because everyone in the region goes there for interesting.

Scott Green
Scott Green
1 month ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Interesting idea. Very cool space, but I don’t know if the population would support. Could pick up the lunch crowd but otherwise, not a ton of foot traffic, so people would have to be willing to come in and park specifically to eat there.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott Green

You may be correct…. the area has not reached its potential, that is for sure, but I think if City Hall wanted to do something cool and competent, they could get it done if they didn’t screw it up with politics as usual. Such a thing would have potential as a tourist draw and would bring people from south of Richmond (heck, people drive many miles North to go to Southpark in Colonial Heights…) and it would be a great advertisement for Richmond, and itself, as well — hey, let’s stop at that cool looking place!! But I could be… Read more »

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
1 month ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

This was done before back in the 80’s or 90’s. Didn’t succeed.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

I did not know that.

I would suggest that Richmond was rockier soil then and that might have had something to do with it.

Are you talking about the Farmer’s Market?

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
1 month ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Nope. They tried an “indoor mall” concept there before it was state offices and then renovated to what it is now. https://www.flickr.com/photos/skynoir/12485663775

George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
1 month ago

The posh Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, the outdoor Viktualienmarkt in Munich, the lively Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul, the trendy Original Farmers Market in LA, the Liberty Public Market in San Diego, and even the Transfer Food Hall in Raleigh all have one importatnt component in common: life. From things called people. They are located in parts of ther respective cities worth visiting, where life and vitality is a natural occurrence, where people want to be. In places where the market is not the only destination. Richmond’s? Stuffed in a ground floor of some bland apartment tower over… Read more »

Michelle Reynolds
Michelle Reynolds
1 month ago

The old streetcar barn on Cary Street that is now residential and Pizza & Beer of Richmond would have succeeded as a Food Hall Its not quite in Carytown proper. But close enough and could have helped the commerce life jump across to the other side of Boulevard.

George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
1 month ago

That would have been an excellent site. Not many more left. Hmm, does Cary Street really need two 7-Elevens?

Wes Morgan
Wes Morgan
1 month ago

To me Scott’s Addition makes the most sense. With the continual development of new apartment buildings, existing entertainment amenities (that are sadly shrinking in number), location easy to get to, and the proposed Diamond District, the location makes sense. It was upsetting to hear the proposed one there fell through.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wes Morgan
Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Wes Morgan

I don’t agree, but I have long been a Scott’s Skeptic. Scott’s, no matter how much hipsters still think it is awesome, no matter how many bland midrises they build there — off on it’s own — “on the fringes, left of center” Michelle’s idea is probably the best one, if what is there was not successful (looks like it is) and I still like my Train Shed idea — the train station Square area is much cooler than anything in Scotts and has much more potential and is surrounded by important parts of the city. Carytown DOES get most… Read more »

Wes Morgan
Wes Morgan
1 month ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Scotts is convenient for me to get to, park, and head home so I favor it, but I think you have valid criticisms. I like what they did with the 17th Street promenade at the Bottom and the Bottom would be an interesting location for a food hall, but I know for me and perhaps others, it would be out of the way to make going there consistently, worth it.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Wes Morgan

Wait, WHAT???? You are the first person to say I have valid criticisms about Scott’s!!! Yes, no where would be all that convenient for everyone, but I assert that if you live in Carytown or the fan, there is at least a psychological barrier (DO NOT DISCOUNT THOSE!) provided by Broad St. that I bet keeps all but Scotts enthusiasts out unless there is some particular entity drawing them out of their area. But, certainly, distance and having downtown in the way will make the Bottom out of sight, out of mind to many in the greater fan area, esp… Read more »

Craig Davis
Craig Davis
1 month ago

never too many 7-11’s. No reason for 7-11 to catch a stray here

George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
1 month ago
Reply to  Craig Davis

Stray? My aim was true. No free squishee or microwave burrito for you. Thank you, come again

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

I’m not sure that has anything to do with the matter. Nothing wrong with a Publix being where it is either, this ain’t Barcelona.

George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
1 month ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

? This ain’t even Coventry

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

? I’m not talking population, more culture. Does Coventry have a famous market or Food Hall and lack quality supermarkets?

I haven’t been to Barcelona since the late 1990s but I recall every supermarket I went in seeming rather dreary and downscale — while the little shops were, if not like a french city, a bit more fun.

I’m not a big fan of Publix, but people want that, and supermarkets generally here.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

How about the train shed in the Bottom — the Bottom may not be hopping right now but it has tremendous potential. Manchester is more like Downtown but less interesting and will likely remain so as it grows — a bit like Arlington is to DC.

kay christensen
kay christensen
1 month ago

Not surprised. Every time I pass it there are few diners and I’ve never seen a full house which would be necessary to offset the operating cost.

Ramone Antonio
Ramone Antonio
1 month ago

I almost agree with everyone. But the food has to be better overall. If it is going to be a staple food spot. It maybe better if they were using well known food places such as First watch or a walk in Chick fil a as an example

Last edited 1 month ago by Ramone Antonio
Brian King
Brian King
1 month ago

Hipster food court without the mall

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian King

Food courts in malls are dying off as well.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

In many more downscale malls, I guess that’s true.

But even Chesterfield Towne Center’s seems to be doing fine.

But Food Halls and Markets with lots of stalls are thriving and have been for a long time — it’s a growing trend now.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 month ago

Restaurants throughout the region have got their butt kicked from remote working as well as the combined higher costs of taxes, supplies, food and labor. The rising cost of housing has cut into discretionary income as well so people are forced to make choices. Hatch was an interesting idea that may have had poor timing. It’ll be interesting to see how Harkless and Gregory replace it.