The Key Operational Challenges of a Food Precinct

The benefits of a food precinct within a centre or space are becoming increasingly known as more landlords and developers include dining as a major aspect of their project. We are busier than ever assisting centres in creating a curated food and beverage masterplan that meets the customer needs and boosts business activity for the overall centre. Whilst it is easy to say what good a food precinct can do, an important part of our project delivery is to ensure that the precincts we deliver overcome major operational challenges that come with having food and beverage outlets operating in the space. We’ve listed 4 major operational challenges that are specific to a food and beverage precinct and must be addressed to ensure operational and business efficiency: 

The demand for parking grows

An increased demand for parking is one of the key operational challenges that a Landlord must consider when including a food and beverage precinct in the masterplan of a space. Food precincts have changed in that it’s not just about finding fuel for everyone but now more experiential and the social part of the visit. Food precincts are housing smart dining restaurants which have people in them for 2-3 hours meaning people need to be able to have access to parking that allows them to stay this long. Without this, patrons can be deterred as well it cause issues amongst the operators inside the precinct. Food precincts within centers and other spaces are also becoming dining destinations meaning people are visiting purely for the food. These additional volumes need to be considered when the parking plans are being devised. 

Knowing the customer visitation rates and times is the key to ensuring your parking amenities suit the customer needs. Are more customers visiting in the day? How long are they staying on average? Are their incentives for people to park at off-peak times? All of these points will help ensure you have a parking capacity that responds to your users. 


Extended opening hours can lead to increased costs

Food precincts are one of the components of a centre that have the ability to operate outside of traditional trade hours. With dining becoming a key part of the shopping journey, the evening economy created by food precincts is now allowing retail traders to extend their opening hours to take advantage of the extra foot traffic. It’s a win-win. What this means for a centre and a Landlord is that there is more opportunity for money to be made but it also means additional costs. It is important to consider the cost of lights, heating, extra WiFi access and security (people’s safety is a must for evening trade) and to incorporate this into the budgeting to ensure that all costs are covered or absorbed. 

If your centre has just implemented evening trade hours and the additional costs are outweighing the additional income, a marketing strategy will work to notify your customer base that you are now operating later into the day. Once your evening visitation rate is up, the additional income will quickly cover the costs created. 


Waste and sustainability management becomes more complex

Waste is specific to the food and beverage aspect of a centre and is one of the most expensive problems for food operators. Unlike in retail, designated zones are required for housing and processing waster and strict guidelines need to be devised and upheld in how each individual operator as well as the overall centre manages it. There are strict regulations around disposing of waste, recycling and separating waste items and it takes someone with extensive knowledge on the topic to be able to implement a sound waste disposal strategy – one that does what it needs to do without costing an arm and a leg. 

There are innovative solutions for waste management which include converting organic waste into biofuel. Solutions such as these reduce waste as well as boost the overall environmental rating of centre, a beneficial credential to have these days. See what food precinct, South Melbourne Market in Melbourne does for their waste management supplied to them by EcoGuardians


Health and safety standards are a must

When you have a food precinct in your centre, there is an extra level of health and safety standards that are required to be upheld. Skimping on these standards can be detrimental to business by ruining the reputation of a single operators as well as an overall food cluster who share the same space. How do you get all operators to adhere to mandatory standards? It requires a set of guidelines and checklists to be provided by the landlord as well as regular and documented audits to be carried out. It is in the best interest of all operators as well as the asset manager and landlord to ensure all health and safety criteria are being met to avoid running the risk of a fine or reputation loss. 

At Future Food, we offer operational consulting services for those looking to better their food precinct efficiency as well as a start-to-finish food and beverage masterplanning service that creates a curated food precinct that overcomes all operational challenges it may face. Whether you need advice on how to implement health and safety audits or are looking to begin a new food and beverage project, get in touch with our expert team to get started.