With much fanfare, and dedicated hard work, Eataly has opened their doors on a weekend where a reported 300,000 plus New Years Eve Visitors descend upon the Las Vegas Strip. Located in the Park MGM, Eataly’s newest addition to their already 37 worldwide locals is unique; these front doors will never close to the public, albeit that some of the indoor venues will close within the Eataly complex.
Eataly’s theoretical life came to fruition under the persistency and tenacity of Italian business magnet, Oscar Farinetti, a man who developed UniEuro into Italy’s largest consumer electronics company. Inspired by the bazaars of Istanbul and his desire in bringing the best in Italian products within a unique market setting, Eataly was born. Transforming his nebulous idea into a worldwide reality that continues to prosper with global success, took many arduous and persistent years. Since the first opening in Torino Italy in 2007, Eataly has grown into more than 37 global food villages reminiscent of European markets where one could eat, shop, dine and learn surrounded by a cornucopia of local producers and Italian cured meats, cheeses, wines and other gastronomic delicacies.
According to Farinetti, “Eataly’s success is linked to our philosophy, because people can eat shop and learn, all about high-quality food, three activities that don’t coexist anywhere else. Moreover, our informal style of communication shows how direct and approachable we are, just the way people like.”
With the onset of perhaps one of the most ambitious projects to date, Oscar’s beloved son, Nicola Farinetti has taken the reigns as the CEO of Eataly USA and spokesperson for the project. He gives us few reminders of what lies behind this culinary organization that continues its ambitious expansion around the globe.
Looking around at the incredible array of food offerings and producers here at Eataly, are the offerings standard in all the Eataly’s worldwide?
NF: No, for many reasons but reason number one is high quality Italian food is limited. It is limited by producers because they are tiny. We may have a producer that is in 5 stores and another is at 10 stores since they are small producers. We look for local producers. It is important that we also collaborate with the local community. Producers may be different, but they follow the same quality standard. Of course, there are some products that we have in every story but we augment with local producers. I think we have Creekstone, but in Boston we have another local provider as it is in all the different stores.
Do you think Americans are increasing their food awareness as to where their food is coming from and how it is processed?
NF: Food is becoming more and more important every day. None the less we are improving not just in the US but everywhere. Nutrition and our understanding of how and what we put in our bodies changes everything. It changes the way we feel, our very DNA, it changes everything.
Was that really the impetus of your motivation in opening Eataly?
NF: We have always believed that food can change everything. It is a very big component on environmental system of the world. It you produce good food it is better for everyone and it better for the health system. Cheap food doesn’t exist. If you are don’t pay for it someone else is paying for it. It is either in the environment or it’s either the person who is person who has made the food that is extremely poor and underpaid for it.
What was the driving force to take Eataly globally?
NF: It really is my father. I am extremely lucky I was born in a family where My Dad was a visionary. At times he could not sleep as he was busy creating projects. He was always creating things and making things happen. He is a retailer and had the vision form the beginning. It took me years to understand his vision. He had the vision since we opened in Torino. I think I am always a couple years behind my Dad, as he is always thinking ahead. For us, we just want to be very proud of what we do. We have created something so unique that is also very complicated and impossible to replicate. It is our happiness but also our greatest nightmare; for example we will have 75 restaurants opening in one location in one day.
What is your greatest challenge?
NF: It is always going to be people but that is the greatest challenge for humanity. Everyone who wants to grow is going to have this challenge.
You have a wonderful executive Chef working with you Chef Nicole Brisson. She is a great team player.
NF: She is wonderful team player. We are very happy to have her working with us that has our same value. She is our only female executive Chef working with our company in the US. She is so knowledgeable about this market more than anyone of us, she knows everyone.
What is uniquely challenging about Las Vegas?
NF: Opening no, but we are working with the MGM Corporation which is challenging in a good way. We have also opened our own store in our own way, but this is the first time we have collaborated with another company that is very different in sizing and culture. It has been fantastic. Everyone says it is about scalability, as far it could be very on a Friday but dead on a Tuesday. We will find out as we go forward.
Guests queued up for hours and at exactly 5pm the doors to Eataly Las Vegas opened to reveal a plethora of imported Italian delights to sip and savor on through the evening.