Eataly’s ‘La Cucina del Mercato’
fuses retail, foodservice
Customers can order their food to eat on-site and can select products to take home and cook
(Author : Mark Hamstra)
Perhaps no operator has more extensive synergies between its foodservice and retail offerings than Eataly, the Italian food hall/market concept. At its recently opened location in Las Vegas, the retail-restaurant hybrid has fused the two segments of its business more thoroughly than ever. “Eataly Las Vegas is truly a milestone for our retail/restaurant synergy evolution,” said Raffaele Piarulli, VP of operations at Eataly USA.
The company calls the format “La Cucina del Mercato” — “Kitchen of the Market” — where customers can order their food at small standalone foodservice venues and can also select from products to take home and cook.
“You can go to the Macelleria [butcher] counter, for example, pick a steak or two and have our product experts prepare them for you to take home,” Piarulli said. “And in that same interaction, you can order anything in front of you in that very counter and have the same team cook it for you right there and then for a small fee.”
He described the format as “the truest representation of our motto, ‘We sell what we cook and we cook what we sell.’” In addition to the meat counter, similar experiences are also available with seafood, pasta, salumi and cheese, pizza and wine.
“Imagine being in a casual, simple environment and being able to order any wine from an entire Italian wine shop with over 300 skus,” said Piarulli. “That’s Eataly Las Vegas. It’s fun!”
He said the popularity of Eataly’s foodservice offerings allows the company to educate customers about the products available for retail sale through menu design and through the education of its workers.
“We call this ‘storytelling,’” said Piarulli. “It’s a part of everything we do. We don’t say ‘pasta al pesto’, we say ‘Afeltra Pasta from Gragnano, naturally dried for 24 hours and bronze extruded, with Niasca pesto from Liguria made with Italian basil, pine nuts and Grana Padano DOP.’
“This approach — deeply rooted into our way of thinking — allows our products to always be the true protagonists of what we communicate,” he said. “Guests will know what they ate. They will know that product is available in the store.”
Staff are trained to show customers where specific items are merchandised, and recipes and cooking suggestions are also readily available, he said. Piarulli said Eataly’s retail purchasing team and its culinary team work together continuously.
For example, Eataly has began carrying Culatello di Zibello DOP, which he described as a “high end cousin of prosciutto crudo” that just recently became available for import. Eataly merchandised it for retail sale, and also incorporated it into several salumi and cheese boards on the foodservice menus. Italian white truffles are another example, he said.
“Every year, when the season arrives, our marketing, retail and restaurant teams work together to create a series of activities to promote white truffles in every way,” said Piarulli. “We add them to our menus, we create a dedicated section for them in our fresh market, and we go so far as creating large promotional events around them as well.”
The most recent “Truffle Day” — Dec. 23 — featured white truffles in every restaurant at Eataly USA, while the same truffles were on sale at 50% off in the case. “Special occasions aside, cross-promoting our retail products in our restaurant is just what we do as default,” said Piarulli.