Windmill food hall opening pushed back to late September

The iconic 1982 windmill building at Palomar Airport Road and Interstate 5 in Carlsbad will soon be transformed into the Windmill Food Hall, opening in late September in Carlsbad.
The iconic 1982 windmill building at Palomar Airport Road and Interstate 5 in Carlsbad will soon be transformed into the Windmill Food Hall, opening in late September in Carlsbad.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego U-T)

The much-anticipated opening of Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad has been pushed back to the end of September due to construction delays.

The 14,000-square-foot project inside the landmark 1982 windmill building at 890 Palomar Airport Road is being built inside the ground-floor restaurant space previously occupied by TGI Friday’s and, before that, Pea Soup Andersen’s.

Originally, owner James Markham had planned to open the food hall in mid-summer. Then the date was moved to early September. But the ambitious project has taken longer than expected.

When complete, the hall will have 11 food vendor stations, a 50-seat bar, vintage video and Skee-Ball games, lawn and table games, a communal seating area with fireplace, library, patio seating and a monthly calendar of events.

At a later date, Markham will open a 60-seat speakeasy bar on the windmill building’s second floor. He’s also planning a second Carlsbad location of Crackheads — his gourmet breakfast sandwich and coffee concept — in a steel container structure in the food hall’s east parking lot. The first container-based Crackheads opened in July in the Village Yard project in Carlsbad Village.

The Windmill project is one of four food halls opening around the county in the next year.

In January, Whisknladle Hospitality will open the 10,000-square-foot Park Commons food hall in the Sorrento Mesa area. In spring 2019, the Mexican-themed Pan y Sal food hall will occupy the Bread & Salt arts complex in Barrio Logan. And in fall 2019, 3LB Restaurant Group will open the Outpost Urban Food Hall in Poway. They join 2-year-old Liberty Public Market food hall in Point Loma and the Little Italy Food Hall, which opened in July.

Food halls are among the hottest culinary trends in the U.S. A recent study by Cushman & Wakefield said the popular destinations have grown in number from 70 in 2015 to a projected 300 by 2020.

The growth is fueled by foodies seeking a unique dining experience, an industry trend toward more fast-casual service to reduce labor costs and an increase in walkable mixed-use developments that combine housing, retail and office space.

Markham has announced two more food vendors who will occupy the hall: Belgian Delights of San Diego and Notorious Burgers of Carlsbad. He’s still looking for two more tenants, including a pizzeria.

Here’s a look at the expanded lineup in alphabetical order:

Belgian Delights — The 3-year-old, family-run farmers market favorite serves Belgian-style fries served in a paper cone with garlic aioli sauce and Liège waffle desserts.

Bing Haus — Thai-style rolled ice cream and other desserts in flavors such as green tea, black sesame and banana. Its original shop is on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa.

Bread and Cheese — Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches made by lifelong best friends Justin Frank and Devin Gneiting, who run a popular stand frequented by the Markham family at the Hillcrest Farmers Market.

Cross Street Chicken & Beer — Korean-style fried chicken is the specialty at this booth run by married restaurateurs Tommy Nguyen and Grace Chi, whose original location opened last fall on Convoy.

Lobster West — Award-winning lobster roll sandwiches are the specialty at this family-run Encinitas-born restaurant company owned by Kim and Joel Locker.

Notorious Burgers — Brian and Julie Gruber’s 5-year-old Carlsbad restaurant is known for its oversize Brandt beef burgers, but their Windmill stand will serve just gourmet sliders.

Taco Lady — A spin-off of the popular El Puerto Mexican & Seafood restaurant in Carlsbad Village. It will serve gourmet street tacos.

Thai-Style Kitchen — Traditional Thai dishes are prepared by this pop-up street fair vendor run by a former chef from Lotus Thai restaurant in Carlsbad.

Rolled Up — Markham’s own concept serves build-your-own sushi burritos. It will relocate from its current location in Hillcrest.