Unique Food Hall Opens Near Downtown Calgary [Photos]

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In a first of its kind for Calgary, a purpose-built residential rental tower, near the core of the city, has opened a contemporary urban food hall at the building’s street level.

The First Street Market, at the base of The Underwood, was designed with community in mind and hosts nine chef-inspired cuisine vendors and a full-service bar specializing in local craft beer and cocktails.

Mike Brescia

Mike Brescia, Chief Operating Officer and Partner with Western Securities Ltd., the company behind the rental tower development, said the food hall goes hand in hand with the concept of the rental property.

“We feel we’ve learned a lot from managing and owning apartments in the U.S. They do a great job. In Calgary, really, the purpose-built rental market until the last couple of years has been relatively non-existent. There weren’t many buildings that were built purposely in the last several years. Decades. We’ve been doing this in the U.S. for a long time and the focus of our management teams is really creating a community feel because we find that residents are often much happier when they feel sort of embedded in the real community and they know people in the apartment and they’re integrated in the neighbourhoods,” said Brescia.

“We wanted to create an elevated food experience that had great chefs, serving great food but you got to have different options. So we made the decision to really create partnerships essentially with these chefs and restaurateurs and so we have different food vendors offering different types of food.

“We think it’s a great way to help our whole building there be integrated as part of the community. We think it’s unique to Calgary. We’ve never seen it here before. We wanted to do something that was different. We think it’s totally unique to Calgary. There’s nothing like it.”

The innovative and vibrant food destination at The Underwood includes a variety of exclusive vendors offering fresh pasta, specialty breakfast, contemporary eats, vegan options, drinks, superfoods and more. Vendors include:

Image: First Street Market

“Calgary is known for its progressive local food scene and we are so excited to add this concept to the city’s culinary space,” said Ryan O’Connor, President and Owner, of the First Street Market. “We look forward to welcoming locals and visitors alike to First Street Market for an immersive and versatile dining experience.

“My vision for First Street Market has been to create a welcoming and inclusive gathering space for all, with exceptional cuisine. After years of preparation, we are finally ready to unveil this new concept for Calgarians to enjoy.”

In addition to local eats and treats, First Street Market will offer an open concept dining environment serving up some amazing park views from its 50-seat patio backing onto Calgary’s well-known Haultain Park.

With a selection of menu items from all over the world under one roof, Calgarians won’t have to travel far to get an assortment of food and beverages well beyond traditional food hall offerings. Redefining what it means to dine in a food hall, First Street Market caters to both dine in or pickup up of countless creative dishes, said the company.

The Underwood is a 30-storey building, with 225 units, on 1st Street S.W. in the Beltline neighbourhood. The building is about 98 per cent occupied. The main floor includes the First Street Market and on the second level is Western Securities sister company, Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, head office. Above those levels are the residents and amenities for those residents.

“We really feel the market has shifted a bit. It’s not just young people. I think a lot of people say younger generations are more willing to rent but reality is that renting is just becoming a more accepted lifestyle choice. It frees up disposal income and gives you flexibility and we find that there’s just more people accepting that sort of way of living,” explained Brescia.

He said the First Street Market will pull customers from the building residents to the pedestrian traffic along the busy street and from the nearby park. 

Image: First Street Market
Image: First Street Market
Image: First Street Market
Image: First Street Market
Image: First Street Market

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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  1. Nothing unique about it just another food court
    With the same boring food

    Indian Vietnam breakfasts italian pizza n tacos
    We only have like a thousand of same in every corner of the city lol


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