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If you’ve ever been to New York City Italian food store and restaurant mega-plex Eataly, you’ve encountered the crowds — walls and walls of well-polished humanity sipping tall cappuccinos and eyeing cold cases of wall prawns and hunks of cured meats being worked in the Berkel slicer. But, apparently according to The New York Times, customers aren’t just eyeing. They’re buying.

In a story published today, writer Glenn Collins takes a look at the numbers — which are so good, celebrity investors Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali are probably cracking out the Barolo Monvigliero as we speak. The location’s revenue for 2012 is estimated at over $85 million, which breaks down to $1,700 per square foot per year. In comparison, luxury malls don’t eclipse half that, and the country’s highest-grossing restaurant chain, the Cheesecake Factory, barely hits $1,000 a square foot.

So what is the secret to Eataly’s success, which is visited by roughly 30% tourists, with the rest of its customers originating from the Tri-State area? The first, we can only guess, is the in-your-face ethic of the layout. Tight aisles, stewing and sizzling sights and sounds of the nearby restaurants. Anybody with only the faintest foodie pulse is enchanted by the production of it all. Also, there’s a sense of “editing” from management (similar to Kochhaus in Germany). Sure, the dried pasta aisle is overwhelming. But in general, it feels as if you’re walking into the pages of your favorite culinary glossy magazine (or, cough, website). And people are willing to pay for the trip.

The Bastianich/Batali association also certainly doesn’t hurt. Spaces are being considered for Chicago, Los Angeles and São Paulo, Brazil.


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