Food Court 2.0

   The physical environment I chose for this writing assignment is Morgan Food Hall in downtown Raleigh. Morgan Food Hall is a space that features local eateries and restaurants with shared seating. Similar to a mall food court, but with hipper vibes.

   When you first walk in, you notice the concrete floors, industrial open ceilings, and wooden fixtures, including barrels and old refurbished planks that give the place a rustic feel. The middle is lined with wooden benches and tables, which pairs nicely with the other wooden features. This setup also helps with the flow of traffic. The eating area becomes contained as people walking and buying food are on either side of you.

   You then start looking at each of the different food stalls, which are all designed differently based on the restaurant. This helps creates individuality between each booth even though they are squished next to each other. Each vendor is able to design their own unique space compared to their neighbors. Each restaurant’s name is huge and lit up across the top. Although when we went, there was not a large crowd, during past experiences (before covid), the large signs helped me quickly know what each restaurant was through the large groups of people. There are also skylights that bring in natural lighting to open the small space up. In contrast, during the evening, the lit-up and neon signs give dark, almost nightclub vibes, which are perfect for people getting late-night drinks with friends. 

   After you chose what food you’re getting, you can either sit at the central tables or find some of their more unique seating towards the side. We sat in a dark pocket where there were couches instead of traditional tables and chairs. It was lit up by an orange neon sign and felt unattached to the food hall’s central area. There is also covered seating outside with heaters for when it is cold. Vines and flowers were growing up the poles around the outdoor seating, which was beautiful to look at. 

   Although the design was cohesive yet unique at the same time, I found a few issues in the layout. Occasionally a restaurant would form a line that would disrupt the flow of movement on one side. Also, I found it difficult to stop and read the smaller menus due to people trying to get by. I liked having the seating in the middle for when the flow was good, but a better arrangement might help issues that could be caused during busy times. Also, larger menu displays for some stalls so that people could read them from further away. These were only minor inconveniences, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed my food and experience there. The unique options for seating and design definitely separate Morgan Food Hall from an average food court.

Couch seating Unique food stalls Central seating and walk ways

Discussion — One Response

  • Maddy Kelly 03/16/2021 on 12:18 PM

    An apt analysis for a favorite local spot! Food halls are a unique challenge in wayfinding, and your inclusion of variables like: lines for food, menu legibility, and eating spaces are so important to our understanding of navigation in Morgan Street Food Hall. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on the social distanced signage on the floors (tape arrows) directing traffic one-way through the space. Were these signs easily visible? Did customers follow them, or make their own paths? Did the signage contribute to human traffic or confusion? Either way, a great post (and I hope you got to try to the truffle fries at CowBar!).

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