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Let's have dinner at ... the food court?

July 4, 2010 | 10:48 am

Food court
Battered by the recession and competition from non-mall retailers, shopping centers are trying to attract customers with a decidedly upscale culinary hook.

Burger joints and smoothie shops are giving way to sushi bars and churrascarias. Flatware is replacing plastic utensils. And forget grungy cafeteria seating with the sticky table tops and fluorescent lighting. Now customers are chowing down in Wi-Fi-equipped patios with lush landscaping, waterfalls, fireplaces and city and ocean views. Our Andrea Chang has the scoop:

The Westfield Century City mall's "dining terrace" was completed in 2005. It features glassware and flatware, more comfortable seating and workers who bus diners' food trays when they're done eating. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times