~ by Kitty Hart
Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of Eataly. The more you know, the more you enjoy. The more you enjoy the more you love, Eataly.
I was told on Sunday I was “assigned” to attend and cover the Eataly field trip. Woe is me. Not only did I have to spend this week in Chicago, office out of the incredibly cool and brand sparkling new Loews hotel, and learn amazing things from significant brand leaders, I now had to be exposed to the inner workings of my most favorite culinary retail experience.
Again, woe is me.
So, I put a smile on my face, accepted the assignment and took one for the Capsule team.
The walking tour did not disappoint. In fact, it was all consuming. With a most knowledgeable tour guide leading the way, our group of FUSE attendees was engaged, all senses. Walking through the doors we were immediately greeted by wafting smells from the Lavazza and Nutella bars. Yes, a Nutella bar. As hungry shoppers swirled around us in all directions, we fed our curiosity with bits on Oscar Farinetti, the founder and mastermind behind the Eataly experience.
As I jockeyed and elbowed front row proximity and yet still struggled to hear amongst the chaos, then a realization, I wasn’t overwhelmed by it all. I actually felt relaxed as I took it all in.
The beautiful, clean design of the space guided us through the experience. Eataly’s philosophy of “The More You Know, The More You Enjoy”, is demonstrated through the extensive signage system throughout the space. While most grocery retail environments incorporate rich product visuals, Eataly takes a different approach. Through well-crafted messaging, all points of interest are explained in words, maps and instructions. This approach follows Farinetti’s aim of making high quality Italian foods available to everyone, at fair prices and in an environment where people can shop, taste and learn.
Our two-hour tour disappeared in minutes. We cruised from produce to beer, cheese, fish, meat and bakery. The pizza chefs, imported from Italy, whipped up a Neapolitan pizza that fired to perfection in 90 seconds. When we weren’t putting our noses within inches of freshly opened Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese blocks, tasting watermelon radish or feeling the fresh density of the house made bread, we opened our mouths to pepper the experts with questions.
What I find intriguing on Eataly is how quickly Farinetti’s concept and vision has grown. Since the first Eataly opened in 2007, we now enjoy 27 locations worldwide. Exponential growth doesn't happen just because big dollars are spent, but more likely because the experience pulls on an emotional and cultural thread. The Eataly experience fires on all cylanders and engages all senses. The concept beckons patrons in to shop, play, learn and dine. We can't help being moved by the whole experience. And, following Italian heritage, we feel the intimacy that comes from this environment and sharing a meal with others.
There were many on the tour who had never experienced Eataly. It was fun to watch them discover and consume the experience for the first time. This FUSE crowd is an astute band of consumers and they put more currency in the consumption of experiences versus products. We know how to consume in ways that seek happiness, not just material satisfaction.
This was a great day but I have now consumed all that I can. Until tomorrow, FUSE.