Concluding a long downhill slide, downtown Detroit’s Fort Street Galley will close its doors permanently on Friday, February 28. The food hall operated by Pittsburgh-based Galley Group confirmed in a statement Thursday evening by Filipino food stall partner Isla on Instagram.
As Detroit’s location prepares to shutter, Galley Group’s wider chain of food halls appears to be imploding. The group announced early Thursday morning that its Ohio City Galley would also close on Friday. Chicago’s Fulton Galley folded abruptly in November after just five months of business. Three additional Galleys remain open in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis for now.
In a statement released to the Detroit Free Press on Friday, Galley Group vice president of operations Chad Ellingboe confirmed the impending closure:
There were various factors that led to this difficult outcome, among them the decision to scale back our operations nationwide and focus energy on our flagship locations in Pittsburgh & Minneapolis.
Founded by partners Benjamin Mantica and Tyler Benson in 2015, Galley Group grew quickly by riding a now-cresting wave of enthusiasm for food halls. Mantica and Benson modeled their business after a tech startup with a profit-sharing model instead of a typical lease and a competitive vetting process where would-be restaurateurs were asked to pitch their concepts to panelists. Benson was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019 and outlined an ambitious plan for 13 Galleys by 2021.
But the vision didn’t fit the reality. Signs of Fort Street Galley’s impending demise had been widely rumored for some time. The food hall had a shaky start and never seemed to recover. Opening with four promising restaurants in December 2018, within 10 months it had lost three quarters of its starting lineup.
As he prepared to depart the food hall after less than six months of business, chef Mike Han of Pursue described a business in disarray with nearly every food stall struggling to make ends meet. In June 2019, Allenby also closed up shop, citing a lack of steady business. Lucky’s Noble Barbecue bid farewell to its Fort Street address in October. With each departure, Galley Group pulled in partners from other Galleys in Pittsburgh rather than selecting new talent in Detroit. The company’s struggles were outlined in a piece published by Heated in October.
Isla’s co-owner JP Garcia described the challenging situation in an October interview: “[For] every customer who walks in here, there’s four businesses vying for their business,” Garcia says. “When we first opened, the pie was a little bit bigger to be shared. But now that not that many people are coming through, the pie is getting smaller.”
In January, Fort Street Galley began cutting back hours and canceling weekend brunch service. Individuals with knowledge of the business indicated that the food hall appeared to be nearing closure, stating that both Mantica and Benson had left the company. The circumstances of their departure were unclear. Eater reached out to Galley Group on multiple occasions to confirm this information. Questions were directed to Ellingboe, who did not respond to requests for an interview.
Galley Group is currently home to four food stalls. Isla is the only restaurant remaining from the starting lineup. Square Peggy’s, a Detroit-style slice shop, replaced Michigan & Trumbull in December. (Both are owned by the same operators and Michigan & Trumbull has since opened in Corktown.) The remaining two restaurants, Which Came First and Table, are operated by chef Phill Milton.
View this post on Instagram
It is with a heavy heart to inform the sudden closure of Fort Street Galley this Friday, 2.28.2020. We would like to thank all of our customers who stopped in and eagerly tried our food offerings and especially our regular patrons for their utmost support. We truly appreciate your patronage! We also would like to take this opportunity to thank the Isla Detroit Team who helped us out since day 1, most especially @dropoutchef who tirelessly invested his time to learn about Filipino Cuisine. Isla Detroit’s last service will be tomorrow, 11 am until sold out. Hope to see you all. Maraming salamat po!
Update, February 28, 7:08 a.m.: This story has been updated with a statement from Galley Group.
• Fort Street Galley’s Korean Seafood Restaurant Is Closing After Less Than a Year [ED]
• Fort Street Galley Loses Another Food Stall at the End of June [ED]
• ‘Healthy’ Barbecue Stall Bids Farewell to Fort Street Galley on Sunday [ED]
• A Chicken Sandwich Restaurant Will Fill the Hole in Fort Street Galley’s Struggling Food Stall Lineup [ED]
• One of Fulton Market’s New Food Halls Is Already Closing After Five Months [ECHI]
• All Fort Street Galley Coverage [ED]
• All Closings Coverage [ED]