Eataly is coming to Canada.
The Italian food emporium, famed for its high-quality artisanal foods and market-and-restaurant format, is looking to open a location in Toronto and has been scouting locations in the Yorkville area, according to the Globe and Mail.
Eataly is working with the Weston family, owner of a food empire in Canada that includes Loblaw Companies and Weston Foods, to source its Toronto location.
Adam Saper, managing partner and CFO at Eataly in the U.S., told the Globe, "We are looking to make a deal ."
The Yorkville area Eataly may move into is home to Holt Renfrew's flagship store (W. Galen and Hilary Weston bought Holt Renfrew in 1986). There's a possibility that Eataly will open up within Holt's.
No indication was given on when exactly Eataly will open, but it seems to be imminent. "We really want to come to Toronto," said Saper.
Eataly started in 2007 in Italy and has since grown to include locations in Japan, Dubai and Istanbul. It also has U.S. locations in New York and Chicago.
Eataly’s format includes tasting areas, restaurants and classrooms, blending an opportunity to taste products and be educated about them.
It had been rumoured for the past few years that Eataly would be making its way to Canada.
When founder, Oscar Farinetti, visited Toronto in 2010, he spoke with Canadian Grocer of his goal of opening Canada’s first Eataly. There was, at that time, a possibility it would open as soon as 2011.
There have been other hints at its Canadian debut since then: last June, an anonymous source was quoted in Retail-Insider.com saying that Toronto had become a “high priority” for Eataly.
Then, last fall, chef Mario Batali added more weight and intrigue to the possibility when he commented during a Toronto food show that Eataly “maybe, most certainly, most likely” would come to Toronto.
During his 2010 Toronto visit, Farinetti spoke about his penchant for locations with character. He’s not a fan of the cookie-cutter, big box aesthetic.
“I like old factories—a building with a memory of food,” he said, referencing Eataly’s Turin location, which is housed in an old vermouth factory.
The company has gained a reputation amongst grocers on this side of the border, regularly mentioned at retail conferences for its impressive assortment and the shopping experience it provides customers. Metro VP of customer experience, Éric Côté, recently told Canadian Grocer that Eataly is the grocer he likes to visit when outside of Canada.
“I like the customer experience; watching employees make fresh pasta by hand. You can taste it and then buy it… For me, it’s one of the great stores in its niche and it provides a good experience," he said.