Shopping centres are having to change to survive in the new retail environment and their food courts are evolving as part of that process.
For a long time, food courts in shopping malls were usually the sole preserve of fast food chains.
There are still plenty of those but these have been joined by more mid-market options. What the restaurant industry calls fast casual places.
Alongside these, shopping centres have introduced more and more entertainment and leisure options. Think cinemas, new school bowling alleys and 21st century takes on crazy golf, darts or table tennis.
As online retail eats into shopping centre market share, the centres are encouraging footfall by increasing the attractions on offer beyond shops.
They need to draw customers in with more than the promise of a new pair of shoes or a bottle of perfume. They need to be destinations that people will visit outside the usual shopping hours.
Put another way, the shopping element of shopping centres is becoming less important and leisure options such as eating out are increasingly valuable.
More than shopping
This blog has already banged on about the food offerings at the St James Quarter in Edinburgh.
Restaurants there, such as Bonnie and Wild, are destinations in their own right rather than a refuelling stop during a shopping expedition.
Now, as part of a wider, long term redevelopment program, the St Enoch Centre is shaking things up.
As well as proposals for a rooftop, beach club-style bar in the former Debenhams unit, there are more imminent plans for a new buffet style restaurant.
Eat the world
COSMO Authentic World Kitchen already operates in Glasgow's Silverburn centre.
From February, a new branch will be serving in St Enoch's.
Described as a 'luxe all-you-can-eat buffet style' restaurant, the new venture will dish up over 150 dishes from eight live cooking stations.
Guests in the 280 cover space can choose from six different cuisine genres including Pan Asian, Italian, Indian, Brazilian and European.
Since opening in 2003, COSMO has expanded throughout the UK and Ireland. There are now 19 COSMO branches including four in Scotland.
Speaking about the upcoming launch, Suzanne Wink, operations director at COSMO said:
'Glasgow is a vibrant multicultural city and we can’t wait to open our St. Enoch Centre COSMO location next month.
'Offering five star dining for a fraction of the price - we’re always evolving the restaurant experience for our guests... We’re confident in delivering exceptional dining and excited about giving Glaswegians a comfortable new space to savour a world of global flavours from our talented kitchen team.'
New Orleans in the New Town
On a completely different tip, we will draw your attention to East Finch which opened briefly on Edinburgh's Hanover Street shortly before Christmas.
After a brief Covid restriction-based closure, they are back in action slinging what they term 'New Orleans food x New York drinks'.
Food-wise this means dishes like the pressed Creole pork belly with sweet potato chilli mash, jus and pork puffs or po' boys packed with fillings such as crispy cauliflower, tomatillo relish, aji verde and shredded lettuce.
Over on their Facebook page, the cocktails look pretty tempting too.