New food hall in the Europa shopping centre
At the end of January in Vilnius, the Europa shopping centre, located amongst commercial centres and modern apartment buildings, finally opened the updated food hall Dialogai. The owner of the shopping centre, Baltic Horizon, hopes that the year-long development and building process has been fruitful and the hall will become a new favourite.
According to the portfolio manager of shopping centres at Baltic Horizon Jūratė Gaspariūnienė, the concept of the dining hall was based on the target demographic, or in other words, on the people working and living in the neighbourhood.
The main idea for dining locations in shopping centres is usually that the client can quickly come and eat their food. But here at the Europa centre, we wanted to bring forward the soul of the centre, emphasise the people that usually come here and create a unique opportunity to even spend an entire workday in the food hall. No one will stop you from staying there for three or even eleven hours in a row, said Gaspariūnienė.
And so the Europa shopping centre has added different areas to their food hall where people can hold meetings and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Even the name of the food hall Dialogai, meaning dialogue, and its tagline “Food inspires” are used in hopes of improving the dialogue between the visitors and the centre.
All of this is hopefully brought to the client through the sense of community that the surrounding business campus helps to create. “What makes this solution unique is that we have also considered the surrounding businesses that can hold their office parties or meetings at the Europa food hall. At one table, people could be having a meeting while at the same time, others are celebrating in the next area,” said Gaspariūnienė as an example.
The food hall has an area of nearly 900 square metres and it’s filled with natural light and greenery which helps it form a synergetic whole with the entire shopping centre.
The food hall created by the Finnish architecture studio Bolder seats up to 300 visitors at once and offers dishes from ten different restaurants. Some of them are famous names but there are newer restaurants too that will be introduced by experienced market participants. The food hall will be managed by Sapus.
“We created the Dialogai brand with the belief that this food hall will become the beating heart of Europa and be a multi-layered place to recharge and have new experiences in the midst of fast-paced daily life,” said Ieva Bieliūnaitė, partner at TBWA\Vilnius that planned the update of Europa shopping centre.
Enjoy the sunset at the shopping centre
One thing that Gaspariūnienė said was unique about the Europa shopping centre and mainly the food hall was that there is a lot of light and many windows. “We have large windows in the dining area, so you can enjoy the sunset while having dinner. This means clients can be in natural light, which is not common in shopping centres.” Through the light, they hope to convey the message to customers that there is no need to rush and that they can let the time go by and enjoy the moment at the Europa centre.
TBWA\Vilnius, whom Gaspariūnienė has nothing but good things to say about, helped Baltic Horizon think through the project and bring it to the customers. “For me, this is the second time in my career creating such a huge brand and I have to say, they understood exactly what we wanted,” he said. “They knew how to create this new direction for the shopping centre.”
A centre that is like a person
“I remember that when they first approached us, the first thing Jūratė said was that we have to forget everything we know about shopping centres, because this has to be something unique and eye-catching,” said Bieliūnaitė. “And so we pushed aside all current conventions and we didn’t look at Europa as a shopping centre but as a living organism with its heart being the food hall.”
In his words, this way the whole office knew that this project was not about working hard on a name or a logo but about bringing a living organism to the people. “We knew we also had to be able to create an emotion in people passing by who see what’s going on through the windows. And the client we have to consider is a very knowledgeable young and successful person working in the area who has high demands,” he said. So according to Bieliūnaitė, when the concept was at first being put together they had to think about the dialogue between the people, the chefs, the servers, the food hall and the shopping centre. “In regards to the visuals, we reached the idea that communication happens with the mouth and lips. We also use our mouths to eat, so in the visuals we focused on people communicating with each other with a special focus on the mouth.”
It was when the concept was set and the name “Dialogai” was found that the tenants in the shopping centre and the Baltic Horizon team came on board with the idea. “What I like about this concept the most is that people and the tenants are coming up with new ideas on how to create a dialogue,” said Bieliūnaitė as an example of the success of the refreshed food hall at the Europa shopping centre. And so, for example, the restaurants operating in the food hall are coming up with campaigns that match the dialogue concept and are encouraging people to communicate.
“Of course, we have more work to do and there’s still room for more tenants but it’s good to see that the tagline “Food inspires” is working,” said Gaspariūnienė.
The shopping centre also welcomes Estonian customers
With Covid-19 subsiding and restrictions lessening, people from other countries, including Estonia, are also welcome at the centre. “Why not spend a nice weekend or even longer period in Vilnius?” said Gaspariūnienė. “And as we all know, people love to also visit shopping centres when travelling.” And so, Estonians are also welcome to take part in the different kind of experience the Europa shopping centre offers.
At the dining hall, you can choose from among Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, South Asian and Eastern European kitchens. On top of that, burger fans are also welcome and the food hall will have an intriguing pop-up culinary room for events and short-term rental agreements.