Next, please

Scotia SquareI once dubbed the food court in Scotia Square mall as being the best food court in Halifax.

While Scotia Square as a mall leaves a lot to be desired, its food court boasts better selection than sister mini-mall Park Lane while also besting the choices offered by shopping mall giants Mic-Mac Mall and Halifax Shopping Centre.

Most foodies looking for a good meal out will tend to avoid going to malls, which tend to be made up mostly of fast-food chains with little variety. What always jumped out at me about Scotia Square’s food court was that it seemed to go against the grain. There were always a few recognizable fast-food options in there but there were also local treats that gave options beyond the usual burgers, fries and chicken.

Its placement in downtown Halifax probably contributed a lot to its offerings. Halifax is a city that prides itself on the availability of local options where the number of local restaurants and stores highly outnumbers the larger chains that are frequently visible in any downtown. However, that difference has been lessening in recent years as the downtown undergoes a renovation that continues to push up the rent and with that, push out the local stores.

Without getting into a debate of whether local is automatically better than chain-stores on principle, I do acknowledge that having local options is important anyway and have contributed heavily to what impressed me so much about the Scotia Square food court and downtown Halifax in general.

Locally owned and operated restaurants and businesses can provide an array of benefits that larger chains just cannot, not to mention the reward of discovering a gem that you can return to time and time again. Don’t get me wrong, I go to Starbucks regularly and I’m a big fan of Wendy’s but I also have a few local coffee shops and food places distributed around the city that I frequent regularly as well.

And it is with that that I understand the anger and frustration that comes with finding out your fav spot is being forced out in favour of something that not only has locations nearby but you already know you don’t care for.

It was announced last week that two fixtures of Scotia Square, A Taste of India Foods and Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine, are being evicted from the food court by owner Crombie REIT. The rumour mill speculates that Subway will be opening in the vicinity sometime this year, following McDonald’s opening last month.

This following the closure of popular mom-and-pop restaurant PGs from the court in 2011 to make way for a Tim Hortons expansion.

Both Tim Hortons and Subway have multiple locations within a ten minute walking radius of Scotia Square mall and both are offered at Mic Mac Mall and the Halifax Shopping Centre. While obviously a staple in fast-food options for malls, neither give Scotia Square any gain while the eviction of the local options that gave variety is a major point loss for the mall that already had little going for it.

Of course, this goes beyond the evolution of a mall’s food court. It also goes beyond the fact (read: my opinion) that Subway sucks, and Tim Hortons and McDonalds aren’t that much better. It’s a combination of a multitude of issues: The big guys taking over and kicking out the little guys. The loss of local identity. The loss of variety and choices for consumers. Increasing rent costs. Urban sprawl. Hell, you might even want to throw in food health or the local economy too.

Either way, major fail.

I dub thee no longer the best food court in town. Distinction revoked.

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