California Centers

MAY 2017

California Centers Magazine serves retailers, developers, shopping center owners, investment sales brokers and tenant representation firms throughout the state of California.

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30 California Centers Magazine | May 2017 C C type of dish and its popularity." Rouse Properties is one shopping center owner that has utilized social media to stay on top of current tenant trends, which includes cuisine prefer- ences. "We pride ourselves on our shop- ping centers serving as the central gathering places, or hotspots, in each of our communities," Peckenpaugh says. "As such, we monitor the com- ments we receive on social media and stay abreast of the changing dynam- ics in our markets so we can respond accordingly and proactively. Whether it's a desire for a leading lifestyle or entrainment retailer, or a new restau- rant offering a variety of Asian dish- es, by paying close attention to what's occurring in our markets, we are able to react quickly to ensure our proper- ties are meeting these demands." Rouse has been so proactive in the food and beverage space that it even created Taste Space, a branded restau- rant leasing division. "This division's sole focus is to closely monitor the food and bever- age scene in all of our markets across the country," Peckenpaugh says. "The team then uses the data they collect to identify food concepts they believe will thrive at our shopping centers given the steady flow of foot traffic we receive on a daily basis. This di- vision studies which food cuisine is doing well in the market and where there is a void — and we like to be the ones who fill that void." Social media monitoring and Taste Space's analytics have compelled Rouse to open Seafood City Super- market at the Southland Mall in Hayward, Luna Grill Mediterranean cuisine at the Shoppes at Carlsbad and Aniki Express, which offers fresh poke bowls and sushi wraps, at New- Park in Newark. Peckenpaugh notes that while landlords should use their social media presence and the data available to them as they determine which ethnic tenants will work in their centers, it should not completely replace the on-the-ground footwork this industry was founded upon. The Aniki deal might not have come together if Peckenpaugh hadn't merged his tech-savvy strategies with good, old fashion legwork. "Given the high number of Asian Americans in the Bay Area and the popularity of sushi in general, we were looking to expand our dining of- fering to include a restaurant offering Asian cuisine," he says. "I happened to be in the mood for sushi one Tues- day night while in Fremont and saw that Aniki was the top destination in the East Bay as ranked by Yelp. Not only was the sushi excellent, but there was a 30-minute wait, which signaled a strong demand in the market for this brand." Peckenpaugh reached out to the owner, suggested a QSR-style poke and sake bar and signed a deal after calming the owner 's fears that a QSR would impact sales at the traditional restaurant. "Since they opened earlier this year, we have received an influx of positive reviews on social media," he contin- ues. "Aniki is a perfect example of how a local brand can add further value to the mall experience that can't be replicated." CULINARY SCHOOL Learning about a foreign food con- cept firsthand is extremely prudent. Not only is there tons of fierce com- petition out there when it comes to the hottest food trends like poke, ra- men and curry, but the very nature of these items isn't always familiar to all. Restaurant names, menu item names and even the physical dishes themselves can feel intimidating if a landlord or consumer hasn't partaken in that particular cuisine before. "While Los Angeles may be a melt- ing pot, landlords in other parts of the state may not be familiar with some of the hot and new restaurant trends like poke or ramen," Pakravan says. "It can be a challenge not only edu- cating landlords on these trends, but also answering the question of why the concept is not just another fad, in addition to proving it has longevity and a high probability of long-term success." Pakravan urges landlords to visit a concept's other existing locations to get a feel for the area's character- istics and demographics and whether they're similar to their own. Another challenge many landlords face is the idea of leasing to a smaller, newer op- eration versus a national credit tenant that will likely have no problem pay- ing the rent. "The biggest hurdle is getting land- lords comfortable with new concepts Food courts are getting local and hip with concepts like Aniki, that recently opened at NewPark in Newark.

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