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Upcoming downtown food hall confirms first restaurant operator

Houston Business Journal | 03.02.2018

One of three upcoming downtown food halls has announced its first chef-based concept.

Finn Hall confirmed that the team behind Mala Sichuan Bistro will join the project in the JPMorgan Chase Tower at 712 Main St., part of The Jones on Main, according to a press release. Finn Hall is set to debut in mid-2018 with a total of 10 food outlets, a craft beer and curated wine bar, an art deco cocktail lounge and private event spaces.

Mala Sichuan Bistro has two Houston locations — 9348 Bellaire Blvd. in Bellaire and 1201 Westheimer Road in Montrose — that serve family-style plates, per the release. But the concept's owners, Cori Xiong and Chen Heng, plan to focus on "individual-style menu items featuring both popular classics and a few new creations" at Finn Hall, per the release. 

"Food halls are a new trend across major cities in the U.S., and we're happy to be the first Chinese restaurant in Houston to attempt to break cafeteria-style Chinese fast food," Xiong said in the release. "We plan to market ourselves downtown just like we've always done, by presenting authentic Sichuan flavors and an impression of Sichuan culture with a humble heart."

In August, reports surfaced that Mala Sichuan Bistro — headed by James Beard Award-nominated chef Jianyun Ye — was planning several expansions. Eater Houston confirmed in January that the restaurant will open an outpost at the upcoming Katy Asian Town.

The 20,000-square-foot Finn Hall is locally operated by Finn Hall Management, a spokesperson said. Austin-based Oz Rey LLC is the developer of the project, and the general contractor is Houston-based David E. Harvey Builders Inc.

The food hall is named after Alfred Finn, the architect of the JPMorgan Chase Tower and many other buildings and homes in Houston during the first half of the 20th century, per the release.

In April 2016, Houston's Midway and Lionstone Investments began a major renovation project that also rebranded the towers at 708 Main and 712 Main as The Jones on Main.

Food hall concepts are popping up all over downtown Houston. Conservatory Underground Beer Garden & Food Hall, at 1010 Prairie St., opened in 2016. Bravery Chef Hall, at 409 Travis St. inside Aris Market Square, is expected to open this summer. And Lyric Market, at 411 Smith St., is projected to open this fall on the ground floor of the new Lyric Centre parking garage.