Agreed on very curious what's going on there.
As I mentioned above, I suspect that if there is a food hall at Rice, it would be there. Certainly just speculating at this point though.
It is an outstanding location for a food hall since, as you suggest, the parking lots at the property could be used for patio space just like they did across Morningside. There is no need for those surface parking lots since there is easy garage access. The property is two levels and would have nice late night synergy with the adjacent bars.
They are probably doing what CVS and Walgreen's do, trying to take the other's market share in a strangling contest. If we are talking about what would be best for downtown, I don't think this is beneficial. It probably hurts Phoenicia and puts our first full-scale grocer in a suboptimal location. You're far from residents and surrounded by office workers, who don't traditionally make the best grocery customers. I would think a Target might be logical at this location. It could carry some groceries, the kinds of essential things that a worker might need to pick up one or two of on the way home.