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Mercato’s plans for Berlin go beyond food


Jonathan Doughty / Andrea Rasca / Jenifer MacDonald

FOOD offers need to be about far more than simply bringing a few restaurants together and must be about nutrition, experience and community, according to Andrea Rasca, CEO and founder of Mercato Metropolitano.
Speaking this morning at MAPIC’s Food Forum, The Happetite – during the session Integrating Restaurants into Lifestyle Destinations – he stressed that he had tried to build a social business model with his F&B sites, which began with a first location in the Elephant & Castle, south London. The company – which he describes as a “movement” – is to open its latest food hall in Brookfield’s Potsdamer Platz. The Berlin food, retail and cinema complex, close to the Potsdamer Platz transport hub, is due to reopen next summer.
Not that Rasca likes the term food hall.
“I don’t even know what a food hall is any longer,” he said. “Now it seems that if you put three restaurants together you can call it a food hall, even if you serve the same unhealthy food, full of sugar. It’s time to stop thinking of the customers as chickens that just need to be fed something.”
Neither is Rasca a fan of traditional shopping centres, so he needed to be convinced that his F&B concept should locate at Potsdamer Platz. Developer Brookfield’s desire to reinvent the former shopping centre as an estate of mixed-use buildings, with entertainment and culture, helped him to make the decision to join.
Rasca sees his role as providing a “big platform for food lovers, entrepreneurs and refugees” to create businesses within the Mercato, with a strong community ethos and sustainability at its heart, beyond a simple food offer.
Also on the panel, Jenifer MacDonald, senior director, leasing and retail at Brookfield Properties, said that the intention at Berlin was to create something that “engaged and entertained” both visitors and Berliners, with a mix of entertainment and culture, plus food and public spaces to entice locals to visit multiple times a week.
“The focus for us is on giving people lots of reasons to come and encouraging a repeat customer,” she said.
The model for the Mercato at Potsdamer Platz is that the food hall anchor will pay a base and turnover rent, with the sub-tenants operating in the same way with the Mercato. Rasca added: “For business now it must be a partnership, you can’t do it another way.”
Moderator Jonathan Doughty, project director, leasing services with ECE Marketplaces – which is also working on the project – stressed that developers and landlords need to move beyond rent-per-square-foot and instead focus on “whether we can engage with customers”.

 
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