Gone are the days where traditional, mammoth shopping centers sprawl acre upon acre relying only on the classic anchor tenants we’ve all grown up with. Over the past several years retail has undergone a quiet transformation. With advancements into the digital age, and lifestyle trend fluctuations, retail and restaurant developments must be quick on their feet to adapt if they want to succeed.
It’s no secret Millennials are disrupting traditional marketplaces and forcing many companies into reevaluating how they do business. Likewise, as retail learns to react to an unprecedented amount of internet shoppers, landlords are looking to restaurants to fill their proverbial cup. Kansas City is witnessing first-hand how retail development is adapting into (and benefiting from) its brand-new groove: restaurant-centric experiences.Ward Parkway Center, located on the south side the Kansas City metro was built in 1959 and has undergone many transformations over the past 50-some-odd years. Originally anchored by traditional tenant retail shops, the mall was the first of its kind in to house a modern movie multiplex theater. The oldest mall in Kansas City by over 20 years, it has adjusted to meet many trends over time. But this go-around, it is embracing the newest modern lifestyle convenience trend. Thanks in part to Legacy Development, where a Dillard’s once sat is now a brand new open-air restaurant district that offers a variety of fast-casual, limited roll-out eateries, and plenty of common area amenities designed to keep people hanging around. It’s no longer about the one stop in-and-out errand running, or all-day shopping sprees, that shopping centers are relying on for success. But rather, the focus has shifted to an experience-centric visit that offers a variety of options that appeal to all ages.
Shopping centers all across the United States are scooping up unique restaurants, mostly fast-casual and casual dining, and mixing them amongst retail shops and attractions like micro grocery stores and in-house gyms, in effort to attract customers—and keep them. According to Dave Claflin from Legacy Development, the real key to success for a project like this is realizing that it “isn’t going to be a one size fits all approach.” By redeveloping sites that once housed stores, restaurants benefit from less cumbersome construction costs and landlords mutually benefit from the foot traffic generated. Shoppers are part of a more captive audience, where behavior can eventually be predicted, and ultimately capitalized on. “We’re not just putting a restaurant out somewhere on green land. Instead, it’s going where a customer base already exists” said Claflin. It’s all part of the ultimate goal: to future-proof retail spaces as much as possible.
What does the future look like for restaurants in retail? While we may not be able to predict with 100% accuracy, it looks like retail’s new groove is here to stay for a while. We also anticipate involvement of tech in the retail/restaurant sector will boom. Right now, tech companies are just beginning to fully understand the big picture and stepping in to add additional value to these mixed-use set ups. Shoppers and diners alike in one central location could be a potential goldmine for expert marketers. By developing apps that predict a shopper’s habits, restaurants can offer promotional deals when they know shoppers are most likely to visit the retail site. Just this week google announced that they are preparing to launch a feature on their search engine that will use location tracking technology to provide searchers with restaurant wait times.