Jackson Hall Closes After Six Months

Jackson Hall Closes After Six Months
Photo by FujifilmGirl
click to enlarge PHOTO BY FUJIFILMGIRL
Photo by FujifilmGirl
Jackson Hall, the food court that was to add a cheery space and good food to the institutional world of Jackson Health System, has closed after just six months in business.

The 10,000-square-foot food hall shuttered its doors abruptly yesterday.

Partners Della Heiman and Ken Lyon posted a statement on Facebook:
We have made the difficult decision to close Jackson Hall, as of today, October 2, 2018.

While this is a deeply disappointing day, we remain fully committed to serving the greater Miami community through transformative programming, culinary, cultural and wellness experiences.

We are profoundly grateful to the many supporters who believed in our vision for the community of the Health District.

We would also like to express tremendous appreciation for the talented team who helped us create and launch this ambitious project, and who made its many wheels turn each day, creating and serving delicious food and welcoming guests with our special brand of gracious hospitality and genuine warmth.

Jackson Hall was created with the goal of creating a community of nourishment and connectedness in the health district. The decision to close our doors has not been an easy one. As a grassroots small business competing with heavily subsidized food offerings in the area, we learned through experience that our business model is not viable given the context and timing.

Our next steps as a company will refocus our energy on ramping up our Magic Season at The Wynwood Yard, and we hope that our community will continue to gather with and support us there. We are incredibly excited to launch our best season ever at The Wynwood Yard and to continue expanding the catering and programming arms of our business. We also look forward to sharing new projects on the horizon, including North Beach Yard, with the Miami community.

There is always much to learn from failure, but it weighs heavily on us that the closing of our business affects the futures and livelihoods of our team. We came to this difficult decision as we did to the initial concept for Jackson Hall — with great care and concern, and thoughtful consideration of the best trajectory for our company and community. We extend our humble thanks to our entire Jackson Hall family.
Though some Miami business pundits might see the closure as a sign that the local food-hall scene is oversaturated, Heiman disagrees. "Our situation should not be compared to other food halls," she says.

Heiman explains that the goal of Jackson Hall was to offer meal alternatives to hospital workers, but many of them chose to continue patronizing the subsidized food-service providers within the medical center buildings. "People have tight budgets for lunch, and they can get a meal for three or four dollars."

Dinner service also proved to be a challenge. "We thought people would still come for dinner, but after 5 p.m., the area is very quiet. We couldn't drive traffic to the space."

Heiman says she and her team mulled over options such as closing some of the concepts or lowering prices. "Closing some of the windows would take away the food-hall vibe, and we were working with some pretty slim margins. We weren't getting enough business to decrease the prices. We couldn't keep investing in something that was losing money."

She says that the catering arm of Jackson Hall is still "alive and well" and that the Wynwood Yard, her popular outdoor culinary hub, is ramping up for its busy season.

Less than a month ago, it was announced that the Wynwood Yard, along with O Cinema Wynwood, would close in the spring of 2019 to make way for an 11-story building dubbed Wynwood Green. Heiman says the Yard is very much in business for the remainder of the season, providing a variety of programming, from live music to a Shabbat dinner for 100 people this Friday, October 5.

Heiman stresses that she's looking forward to her new business ventures. Plans for the North Beach Yard, with a proposed 2019 opening date, are moving forward. Also, she's working on a vision that includes sharing the Yard concept with other cities.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss