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Wednesday
Sep252019

At this food hall, public space comes first, vendors order collectively, and employees are trained to work at any counter

New Food Economy:   If history in fact repeats itself, a line is forming in downtown Santa Monica, California as you read this. The first West Coast outlet of chef/author/TV personality David Chang’s fried chicken place, Fuku, is scheduled to open Wednesday at Social Eats, a tiny food court that debuted this summer, and locals are ready to participate in this generation’s favorite outdoor sport: waiting with a bunch of strangers to get something to eat.

The Third Street Promenade, a 54-year-old pedestrian shopping street, has helped to make this Southern California beach city what it is today, a tourist mecca where almost 9 million visitors spent almost $2 billion in 2017. But the street is in trouble, 30 years after its most recent facelift, an outmoded three-block stretch of lagging retail stores and familiar food.

Social Eats is the first step in what the city’s urban designer, Alan Loomis, calls “Promenade 3.0,” a multi-year attempt to “reimagine, rethink, reinvent, and possibly redesign” the street.  Read more >