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By: Virginia Lee

Eataly just opened its second US outpost in Chicago. Analysts Tim Barrett and Virginia Lee visited the food hall during a media preview to discuss how the 19,202-square metre (63,000 square foot) location combines foodservice and grocery to create “retailtainment”. The two-story food hall features 23 eateries including restaurants specialising in fish, fried foods, meat, pizza and vegetables; two coffee bars, a gelateria, a Nutella bar, and wine bar. On the retail end, the hall has a bakery, counters for cheese and cured meats, fish, fresh pasta, meat, pastries, vegetables; imported Italian confectionery, olive oils, pastas, sauces; a wine shop, a cookbook store and housewares. The rise of foodie culture and the popularity of the Food Network in the US and other developed countries has allowed Eataly to flourish. Three of Eataly USA’s partners are celebrity restaurateurs and TV stars – Mario Batali , Joe Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich.

“EAT, SHOP, LEARN” is one of Eataly’s mottos. Eataly blends education and entertainment through open kitchens, a mozzarella lab where one can see fresh mozzarella being made, a pasta-making station, and a cooking school set to open in February 2014. There is strong interplay between Eataly’s foodservice and retail components as “Eataly cooks what it sells and sells what it cooks”. Many of the ingredients used in its restaurants are available for retail purchase and will be part and parcel of the cooking classes they offer to consumers.

The original Eataly was opened in Turin, Italy in 2007 by Oscar Farinetti. The concept has gone international with 10 Eataly stores in Italy, 13 in Japan, one in Dubai, and one in New York City. Eataly’s partners seek to open 12 more stores in the next five years including in Florence, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Philadelphia, Sao Paulo, and Toronto.

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