Pittsburgh-based Galley Group, a food hall development and management company, announced last fall it would be opening its first Southern location at Newport on the Levee in 2023. The platform serves as an incubator for aspiring restauranteurs to launch and hone a concept in a rent- and fee-free space. This is made possible through Galley Group’s unique revenue-sharing business model, which collects 30% of the top-line revenue to cover marketing, advertising, equipment management, space up-keep, and utility costs, allowing chefs to focus solely on perfecting their craft.

In collaboration with Reztark Design Studio, Galley Group is fashioning The Galley on the Levee to reflect its industrial surroundings and highlight local creative talent, like Kentucky-based female artist duo Pink Merl Design Co., who is painting a 12 x 12 interior mural. Located adjacent to Central Plaza, the 7,900-square-foot Galley on the Levee will include four restaurants, a signature bar experience operated by Galley Group that spills out into Bridgeview Box Park, and 1,200 square feet of outdoor gathering space. The food hall’s addition will bring Newport on the Levee’s locally owned business collection to 23.

In our final Levee Life installment (for now!), we explore the forthcoming food hall with Galley Group CEO Chad Ellingboe. We’ve also got a sneak peek at construction progress for you on our Instagram. Now let’s dig in.

When did you get into the food hall business, and what drives your passion for sticking with it?

Alex Deconciliis and I have been running Galley Group since 2020. We’re motivated to keep growing the company based on the awesome experiences we’ve had at our other locations and the excitement each new Galley brings to the markets we serve. Food halls are a great opportunity for local culinary talent to practice their skills, and as we see more and more of these chefs grow outside of The Galley space, we recognize it as a testament to the work we’re doing to help advance the ambitions of newcomers in the food and beverage (F&B) industry.

How does your food hall model differ from other operators in the industry?

The Galley model operates differently by providing a higher level of service than a traditional food hall. We start by offering guests the option to order in person or online from both the bar and kitchens. When an order is ready, it is delivered directly to the guest at their table, giving them more time to enjoy the overall experience. Of course, guests have the option of ordering to go as well! We utilize china, real silverware, and proper glassware for all dine-in service; we have house staff to clean and reset tables; and a full management team for assistance. We act much like a full-service restaurant in a lot of aspects.

Newport on the Levee will house your first venture in Kentucky. What attracted you to the state, and more importantly, the development?

When we first met Adam Schwegman, EVP at North American Properties, and toured one of the company’s existing food halls, we were interested in exploring a partnership. After visiting The Levee and seeing its room for growth in terms of F&B, we were even more intrigued by the opportunity. Its entertainment-driven tenant lineup, consistent event programming, and stellar NKY location, including its proximity to a major city like Cincinnati, is really what sealed the deal though. This expansion allows us to bring something new to the market that will compliment what’s already there and tap into existing fans as well as new visitors of the development. The bourbon and local beer scene are also a huge bonus to any restaurant moving into the area.

Your platform acts as an accelerator for aspiring restaurateurs. Talk us through your tenant curation process. Has anything surprised you about the local talent so far?

We always look for local chefs from each market we move into, and the Kentucky/Ohio talent really showed up when we did our first call for chefs! We tend to lean toward certain types of concepts that we’ve seen success with at other Galleys and chefs with experience in the market who are ready to adapt and evolve as we learn more about what guests are craving.

Have any Galley on the Levee restaurant spaces been filled yet?

Yes! We have three of the four concepts filled: Four Mile Pig, Los Tacos Hermanos, and Zaria Italian Street Eats. You can learn more about them in our recent announcement here. If you’re interested in filling that final space, reach out to us at press@galleygrp.com.

Set the scene for the guest experience your team is producing at the Levee.

Our tagline is “Share the Experience,” which is what we hope each guest will do when they visit The Galley on the Levee. We encourage everyone to order from multiple kitchens and share selections with their group. Each space is curated to feel welcoming to people from all walks of life and we intentionally use communal tables in hopes of sparking connections. The idea is that while guests mix and mingle, they’ll venture outside their comfort zones to discover new tastes and maybe even walk away with a new friend or two. Our overall goal is to provide the perfect spot for a casual date night, family gathering, a group of friends to catch the game, or anything in between.