Nation’s Restaurant News joined NRA Show attendees for an insider glimpse into the workings of Eataly’s second U.S. store in Chicago during the conference on Monday.
Eataly Chicago, which opened in December, drew 120,000 customers in its first week alone.
The new location has 23 eateries, seven of which are sit-down restaurants and include the fine-dining Baffo. It even features a “vegetable butcher,” who will wash, cut, trim and prepare any fresh vegetables or fruit that is purchased in Eataly’s produce section, to customers’ specifications.
“This is not home meal replacement,” chef Mario Batali, a partner in the venture along with New York restaurateurs Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich, told Forbes in December. “We’re trying to remove the obstacles to cooking.”
The two-story location covers more than 60,000 square feet and features more than 10,000 products, most of them from Italy (such as a Nutella-branded section), as well as an area for cooking instruction. The first U.S. store, which opened in Manhattan in 2010, covers about 50,000 square feet.
Whitney Moeller, who works in private dining and events with the Chicago Eataly, said the company plans to open about one U.S. unit a year, and the Washington, D.C., area has been rumored as a future site.
Italian electronics business entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti founded the first Eataly in Turin, Italy, in 2007 to promote Italian products.