Butler Town Center will bring the nation’s food hall phenomenon to Gainesville, Florida, when it debuts the Stengel Field Food Hall in late 2018. Boasting a name and architecture that pays homage to the area’s aviation history, the hall will be North Central Florida’s first chef-driven collection of national, regional and local dining options, developer and owner Butler Enterprises announced today.

Located on the ground level of The Residences at Butler, a luxury apartment community that will anchor the East end of the center’s main street, Stengel Field Food Hall will be curated by well-known local chef and restaurant owner Bert Gill, author of “Pickled, Fried and Fresh: Bert Gill’s Southern Flavors,” the first cookbook to blend North Central Florida’s local foods with Southern cuisine.

“Butler Town Center will bring many firsts to North Central Florida: We will be the first regional shopping center in the area to add residences, and through the Stengel Field Food Hall, will debut our version of an exciting, casual dining experience that has expanded throughout gateway cities such as New York and Miami,” says Butler Enterprises President Deborah Butler. “Chef Gill’s national culinary background, commitment to responsible ingredient sourcing, and love of the Gainesville market means this fresh, new national concept will have the perfect regional translation for our area.”

A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Gill has been a pioneer in the local food movement with three highly acclaimed restaurants, all of which utilize seasonal and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Active in the community, he has led the area’s efforts in the Alachua school district cafeterias, setting up healthy menus for the region’s schoolchildren as part of the “Let’s Move” organization.

Chef Gill will oversee the operations and the selection of a unique combination of vendors within the food hall, and open his latest creation, L’Avion, a distinctive French bistro.

“We are passionate about serving fresh, exceptional food, with as many local ingredients as possible,” Gill says. “Deborah Butler’s exciting, new urban development will be a magnet not only for a spectacular showcase of our area’s rich culinary scene, but also for a broad base of customers craving a new experience. For foodies and shoppers alike, this destination will be the centerpiece of Gainesville.”

The 13,000-square-foot Stengel Field Food Hall’s design take a page from its location’s history with a Pitt’s Special airplane suspended from the ceiling, amid other aeronautical elements from the 1940s and ’50s. Stengel Field served as Gainesville’s first school of aviation, founded by local aviation pioneer Carl Stengel. There, early aeronautical designer Curtis Pitts built a lightweight, agile Pitts Special, brought to fame by Betty Skelton, the most famous female aerobatic flying champion of her time, with her plane “Lil’ Stinker,” still on display in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

“Stengel Field Food Hall will be an exemplary combination of the old and the new, with our design reflecting Gainesville’s storied past, while Chef Gill brings our residents and guests the best of contemporary cuisine,” says Deborah Butler, whose father Clark Butler acquired the airfield in the 1970s. “This is an exciting time for Gainesville and North Central Florida.”

The space will house between 11 and 15 vendors, including new food concepts, a craft beer tap room and additional kiosks for fresh flowers, local fruits and vegetables.

Butler Town Center will be a Main Street-style, mixed-use project including more than 200 residences, a collection of new-to-market shops, boutiques and entertainment including a 14-screen Regal Cinema, with abundant food offerings including P.F. Chang’s, Stengel Field Food Hall and the area’s first Whole Foods Market.

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