What is in this article?:
- Eataly Chicago focuses on quality, education
- Staffing up
"One of the things that we think makes us very different is this educational element."
—JASON GOLDSMITH, Eataly Chicago
The vegetable butcher is just one of 700 employees — in a 6,300-square-foot store.
“Yeah, if they didn't already have, whatever, 24 of these things when they opened here I would have said, ‘OK, so let me get this straight. You’re going to take over 6,300 square feet, hire 700 people — yeah, there’s no way that’s going to work,’” said Goldsmith.
Even with all those employees, they can’t be everywhere at once, so there is also a “crazy amount of signage” at Eataly, Goldsmith said.
“Basically any shelf that you look at there is a lot of text. And if people want to know why there are five different kinds of Ligurian pesto there, there is information right there in front of them about those five different brands and what makes them different and where they’re from and why we have all of them in Eataly.”
One sign that gets a lot of attention is the five-foot-tall wheel showing vegetable seasonality that is displayed in all Eataly stores.
“Italians don't buy tomatoes in the middle of winter when they’re not as good as they are in the summer. They use root vegetables and hearty greens and things like that,” said Goldsmith.
To stock what’s in season Eataly relies on local and regional producers.
“We actually sell more domestic and local product than we do Italian product at Eataly,” said Goldsmith.
For instance, customers will find local milk at the coffee shop and in the gelato.
Having such a small store means Eataly can be picky about its sources.
“If there’s great corn a four-hour drive and there’s a little lesser quality an hour drive, we're probably going to opt to get the better quality that’s the four-hour drive away,” said Goldsmith.
While many products are high-end, better quality doesn’t always have to translate to a higher price.
“At Eataly, our top selling item is our loaf of rustic bread. It’s one of the lowest cost items we have, but it’s handmade every day in a wood-fired oven and it’s super, super high quality,” said Goldsmith.
Even the physical elements of the store show the commitment to quality with features like custom-designed shelves.
“Obviously we could spend a lot less money on standard retail fixtures, but instead we buy the fixtures in Italy that are solid wood, they cost four or five times as much, and put them up because those products, if we really want to be obsessive about the quality, it has to be quality all the way through,” said Goldsmith.