We’re updating our previous article where we discussed Eataly‘s coming to Canada. The article gained a lot of attention, speaking to the immense popularity of the large-format Italian food retail concept. Several sources told us that Eataly was in talks to partner with a large Canadian retailer, in an effort to come to Canada. We were also informed of ongoing talks with a landlord for retail space in Toronto’s Yorkville area. New information has come to light since then, possibly confirming Eataly’s future Toronto opening, as well as plans for Eataly locations in other Canadian cities.
Our February article reiterated what sources were telling us: that Eataly was in partnership talks to open in Toronto. We were asked to keep the identity of the potential Canadian business partner private, as well as the possible Yorkville-area Eataly location. Eataly initially denied the reports of a Toronto location, only to retract and tell online food website, Eater, that a Toronto location wouldn’t open for “another three years or so”. Then in April, a source at Chicago’s Eataly told Toronto Star food reporter Jennifer Bain that Toronto’s Eataly would open in about three years. We’ve since heard from sources that a Toronto Eataly is still in the works, though it won’t likely open before 2017.
A source at Eataly, speaking on the condition of anonymity, provided us some interesting details. Although uncertain of the progress of its Toronto negotiations, the source confirmed Toronto to be a “high priority” for the company. The source went on to explain that other Canadian cities were possible Eataly targets and that Montreal, specifically, could some day see Eataly in its downtown core. When Vancouver was discussed, the source cited the city’s increasing sophistication, as well as its thriving tourism. The source also revealed that into the more distant future, other Canadian cities could house Eataly locations, provided that landlords made conditions favourable and local markets met Eataly’s criteria for culinary sophistication.
Eataly wants to be in Toronto’s Yorkville area. Yorkville is experiencing an unprecedented level of retail expansion and redevelopment of existing retail space. Examples of this abound. Hazelton Lanes is renovating and expanding, while One Bloor Street East is currently under construction. Sources say that the Manulife Centre may see renovations, and that the Holt Renfrew Centre will be redeveloped with an expanded Holt Renfrew flagship, as well as substantial new retail below a tall residential tower. Neighbouring Cumberland Terrace is expected to eventually be redeveloped, and some large new retail spaces will accompany several massive residential towers to be built near Toronto’s new Four Seasons Hotel. Redevelopment of 80 Bloor Street West will see substantially more retail, and the future of some of 100 Bloor Street West’s tenants is uncertain as well. Furthermore, the Hudson’s Bay Centre, at the northeast corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets, is ripe for redevelopment: Saks Fifth Avenue recently abandoned plans to replace Hudson’s Bay with a 300,000 square foot store.
Eataly boasts 27 worldwide locations, though only two in North America: a 58,000 square foot space in Manhattan, and a 63,000 square foot location in Chicago. Its 2013 Manhattan sales targets were estimated at a whopping $85 million. In December, its notoriously busy Chicago location had to temporarily close because it ran out of food. Eataly has 10 locations in Italy, 13 in Japan, one in Dubai and one in Istanbul, Turkey.
Eataly was founded in Turin, Italy, in 2007. Founder Oscar Farinetti wanted to combine elements of a lively, open environment with a learning centre to create an atmosphere conducive to shopping, tasting, and learning about high-quality Italian foods. Inspired by the European food-hall concept, its massive stores are populated with tasting areas and gourmet restaurants to complement the upscale food offerings. Customers can taste the artisan products, learn about them from educated staff, and buy the ingredients to recreate Eataly’s restaurant food at home, all at fair prices.