The Food Hall Co.—a Plano-based food hall developer and operator that helps small businesses grow into thriving restaurant brands—announced top leadership hires today as it’s poised to increase its U.S. expansion.
The company appointed Michael Morris as its new CEO and Jessica Keller as its chief operating officer. The two leaders will help Food Hall grow its U.S. presence beyond its signature properties Legacy Hall (below, located in Legacy West in Plano) and Assembly Food Hall in Nashville, Tennessee.
Incubating small businesses into thriving restaurant brands
Food Hall Co. is a subsidiary of FB Society (formerly Front Burner Society), a holding company that invests in restaurant tech businesses and CPG beverage startups that are showcased in its restaurants and food halls through its capital arm, FB Capital Partners.
FB Society also owns FB Labs—the restaurant innovation lab behind concepts like Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar, Sixty Vines, Haywire, and more. One of its latest concepts is Son of a Butcher, the wagyu beef slider bar that launched in Legacy Hall and is now growing its footprint in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
Currently, FB Labs is developing a new “wine retail/tasting room/restaurant hybrid store” called Glass Cellar, slated to open early next year at Preston Center in Dallas, the company told us.
CEO Morris has his own background in food halls
Michael Morris brings an extensive background in real estate development and operations to his new role at the helm of Food Hall Co. He began his career at the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies, rising to development director before becoming a principal by the age of 24. He was a key player in the development and leasing of Kansas City’s Power & Light District, a nine-square-block destination featuring entertainment, dining, services, and business headquarters.
In 2008, Morris left Cordish to start his own firm, Cana Development (CANAdev), where he remains as CEO. CANAdev is a real estate development company that’s become a leading developer of food halls in the U.S., with recent including High Street Place in Boston and Western Market in Washington D.C.
“What attracted me to the opportunity was the caliber at which Food Hall Co. operates on every level,” Morris said in a statement. “Food Hall Co. has successfully created two world-class dining and entertainment destinations. Bringing together CANAdev’s development and leasing skillset with the Food Hall Co.’s operational strengths creates a best-in-class food hall team.”
‘Actively pursuing’ locations in Top 20 U.S. metros
Morris told Dallas Innovates his current focus is spearheading Food Hall Co.’s growth and expansion throughout the U.S.
“We’re actively pursuing locations in the Top 20 U.S. metropolitan regions and we look forward to announcing some new sites in the next 60 days,” he said.
“Part of the reason I’m excited to lead this for the Food Hall Co. is the model they have created to support small businesses,” he added. “The Food Hall Co. aligns the food hall operation, small business vendors, and the underlying real estate to create a sustainable program for all. This requires a combination of daytime and residential populations alongside key market demand drivers for unique visitors.”
Morris noted that his new company’s current spaces are large by food hall standards at over 45,000 square feet, “and require space for events and acquisitions.”
COO Keller is a Whole Foods Market veteran
New COO Jessica Keller brings over 15 years of experience at Whole Foods Market to Food Hall Co.
She most recently served as regional VP of the Southwest Region for nearly four years, where she was responsible for the operational and financial execution of all 47 stores in the Southwest Region, including locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
“My experience with serving and supporting local communities, vendors, and team members through servant leadership will be critical to achieving success at Food Hall Co.,” Keller said in the statement.
Keller added that she aims to help Food Hall Co. create destinations that bring people together.
“Ultimately, I hope to develop extraordinary food halls that bring people together to celebrate food and have fun through our unique entertainment and programming,” she said. “I’ll be working to ensure we’re on the cutting edge of food trends, while maintaining overall quality and execution, and will continue to work with vendors who meet this level of excellence. In addition, we’ll always look to represent each community and its local flavors through our restaurant and chef partners.”
‘Curated and diverse dining experiences and programming’
Randy DeWitt, founder and chairman FB Society, believes Morris and Keller will be key to the company’s expansion plans.
“Our mission is to continue to create premier dining and entertainment destinations through thoughtfully curated and diverse dining experiences and programming, executed at the highest level possible,” DeWitt said in a statement. “With Michael and Jessica at the helm, we now have the team in place to strategically grow our footprint and enter more markets across the United States.”
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