With its faux Eames chairs, plush round booths and soaring 40-ft. ceilings, the new Dining Terrace at Westfield Montgomery
mall looks more like a place where James Bond might grab cocktails than a shopping center food court. Part of a $90 million rehab of the Bethesda, Maryland, retail behemoth completed in 2014, the chic new chow-down zone now hosts fast-casual spots like Cava Mezze Grill and full-service restaurants such as surf-and-turf specialist Met Bethesda. Sounds like a trend planners and attendees are going to eat up, especially at events at the nearby Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
“There’s a lot more attention to the food scene, and a lot more awareness of healthier choices and local sourcing,” says Jesse Tron, spokesman for International Council of Shopping Centers
. “This often means mall restaurants are grouped as lifestyle centers, and that there are more fast-casual options.”
At Westfield’s Dining Terrace, that translates into better eating options pre- or post-meeting (or for attendees taking a break). Think D.C.-based Wicked Waffle’s egg white-and-grilled veggie waffle sandwich or Lobster ME’s crustacean-powered rolls, mac and cheese, and tacos, all served under mod light fixtures and in the shade of real trees. There’s a lively sushi-and-drinks happy hour scene at Sarku Japan, and, upstairs from the terrace, Boston-based Met delivers New England favorites and strong cocktails in glam digs with a black-and-white-tiled bar and Gatsby-esque crystal chandeliers.
“We heard from customers that they wanted more upscale dining and a higher-end aesthetic,” says Eric Howard, senior general manager of Westfield Montgomery. “We tried for a solid mix of national and local players.”