Coffee with Nicola Farinetti of Eataly

I discovered Eataly a few years ago when a friend recommended we meet for dinner at the Flatiron location. I was left speechless by the variety and ‘Italian-ness’ of the place (if that was a word!). You will be in an Italian heaven the second you enter the store. The first thought that came to mind was, we need to have one of these in London! Great news we aren’t far from it! I had the opportunity to interview Nicola, the CEO of Eataly and he shared their story and future plans! My favourite sections in the store are the coffee, wine, and pizza sections- if I lived in NY I would spend my entire time shopping in the meat and fresh pasta section! The rooftop at the Flatiron store is also a must visit.

What inspired your family to begin a concept like Eataly? 

Eataly was originally founded by my father, Oscar Farinetti. In November 2002, the Eataly concept was born from an idea that he sketched on a piece of paper. The idea was simple: to gather under one roof high-quality food at sustainable and reasonable prices for ALL, celebrate Italian biodiversity, and create an informal, natural, and simple place to eat, shop, and learn. As a result, Eataly stands for “Eating Italian”, which encompasses both Italian food & culture. The Italian history and culture is engrained in the way Eataly runs and the many qualities that we have to offer. At Eataly one can make a trip across all the 20 Italian regions and experience the authentic traditions that come along with it. After five years of research and hard work, the first Eataly opened its doors in Torino on January 26, 2007, when an old vermouth factory was transformed into Eataly Torino Lingotto – the very first multifunctional marketplace dedicated to Italian excellence in the world.

Eataly is now the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world. With over 40 locations worldwide, including the first location in Torino, Italy, each Eataly location is unique and houses its very own mix of restaurants, counters, products, people, and activities. In the US, Eataly has two locations in New York (Flatiron & Downtown), Chicago, Boston, LA & Las Vegas.

How would you describe Eataly in a few words for a first-time visitor?

Eataly is an authentic Italian market place composed of a variety of restaurants, food and beverage counters, bakery, retail sections, and a cooking school. We have the same philosophy, “eat, shop, and learn” high-quality Italian food at every Eataly store, but every store varies slightly and develops an identity depending on where it is located and who the customers are.

What makes Eataly stand apart from other food and department stores?

At Eataly, we aim for our customers to Eat, Shop & Learn all under one roof. We like all of our customers to know where the products come from, the producers we work with, etc. We find the educational experience one can have at Eataly is extremely important to our identity and is definitely a differentiator of ours

We work with local producers to source all our fresh products sold in the marketplace & used in the restaurants

We sell over 10,000 products at each Eataly.

We have experts on staff that can explain the story of our products, producers, dishes, cooking processes and more to customers on site.

We offer experiential experiences to our customers, such as a variety of cooking classes at our educational areas that we have in every store (ie: La Scuola di Eataly at Eataly NYC Flatiron)

One can eat at a restaurant within Eataly and then shop for the products that they just enjoyed in house and learn about the ingredients/ recipes during our educational classes

We believe our target is everyone. Everyone eats, and everyone should eat better. We offer everything from a $2 pizza slice to a $100 meal. And we do that both in retail and restaurants. Of course, we won’t be able to reach everyone, but we will always try.

What is your advice to someone starting their own business especially in a family-based environment?

Growing up, I learned about running a business while working with my father and brothers. We knew we had the same passion and vision for Eataly once my father came up with the idea. Over time, and especially after the first New York opening, I learned to trust my employees. I had to make sure they knew the brand extremely well and were passionate about Eataly. Once I knew that I could trust them to do the best job possible. I had to realize that you cannot do everything yourself

What is the next destination for Eataly?

The first-ever location in Paris, France is opening in early spring 2019. We’re doing this with Lafayette—it’s a very, very beautiful store, right there in the city center in Le Marais. Then, towards the end of 2019, we’re going to open in Toronto. Toronto is such an amazing city, and 30 percent of the people are either first-, second-, or third-generation Italian. So there’s this huge culture of really high-quality Italian food. We are opening in London in 2020, which is another big milestone for us. And then we’re looking very seriously at the United States: we want to open at least another three or four stores in the next three to four years.

Meanwhile, for more visit www.eataly.com

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