Excerpts from "Restaurant and Fast Food Site Selection" by John C. Melaniphy, published by John Wiley & Sons, February, 1992
Food courts have become permanent fixtures in today's malls and some downtown office complexes. They are a collection of food service operators with common seating utilizing cumulative attraction of multiple, but diverse, menus. Food courts, which began in the early eighties, were promoted to food operators as a way to cut costs, increase sales, and share common elements. In theory, it has been very effective. In reality, it has been difficult for many, adequate for some and very profitable for a limited number of food companies. The recent recession has had a very negative impact on many food court operators. They discovered that their business is directly related to the success of stores in the mall and the number of customers generated. Franchise food operators were especially hard-hit because of the additional costs that they have related to the Franchisor, namely royalties and advertising contributions.
Initially, space in shopping center food courts was leased to small, independent "Ma and Pa" food operations. Developers recognized that higher rents could be charged to small independent food operators, who were grateful for the opportunity. By 1985, a clear pattern began to emerge.