- Raffaele Piarulli, VP of Operations for Eataly, the gourmet market with locations in 13 countries, told Supermarket News that balancing extensive retail and foodservice offerings can be challenging, but that collaboration between the two sides can benefit the overall experience.
- The market's restaurants, he said, can use items from the supermarket in recipes without committing to a large quantity purchase. They can also showcase foods and ingredients on the menu that can be purchased in the supermarket.
- Customers may come in to eat, shop or both, and the staff is agile in balancing offerings with current customer interests. Cross-utilization between the restaurants and market is essential and takes team effort: a strategy that could be used in other retail-meets-restaurant endeavors.
What is Eataly? Zagat calls it an amusement park and a dining, tasting and shopping mecca. As a one-stop eatery, the Italian invention combines fine restaurants, a food hall and a market to satisfy a hungry shopper’s every need. With multiple global locations, including five in the U.S. (two in New York and one store in Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles) shoppers can come to Eataly to grab a sandwich, pick up some premium imported cheese, enjoy a multi-course meal — or all of the above.
Despite the different areas of operations, Eataly creates synergies that benefit the whole. In the Supermarket News interview, Piarulli gives an example of how Eataly takes advantage of cross-promotional opportunities daily: “We get to carry really rare [meat] cuts in our butchery, for example, because we know we’ll be able to cook them in one of our restaurants and run them as specials if the inventory doesn’t move quickly enough.”
He points out that the synergies rely on the different areas working together, and that happens thanks to the diverse yet food-obsessed staff: cheesemongers, butchers, grocery managers, and chefs, who are foodies and love to try out new ingredients and menu items.
Although Eataly is a fairly extreme example, the combination of restaurant/grocery store isn’t unique. With more than half (54%) of millennials saying they eat out at least three times a week, they as well as other shoppers are searching for excitement at mealtime, with fresh and convenient food. Grocers are trying new ways to satisfy customers, and stores like Hy-Vee, H-E-B, Whole Foods, Meijer and Wegmans are adding restaurants within or near their stores to entice consumers with their upscale menus and craft beer.
These grocers can learn lessons from Eataly’s success on how to help the supermarket and restaurant benefit from the collaboration. In his interview, Piarulli says it is important to remember that Eataly is one operation made up of numerous parts. Grocers opening restaurants would do well to reinforce that, with the guiding principle being to determine how each entity can showcase the other. Piarulli’s gave an example of including call-outs on menus that provide the story of the meat producer and product, so customers know where the meat is from and may be more likely to look for it in the grocery store.
Some of Eataly’s success is not based on grocery items or food preparation, but on creating a culture that encourages staff to explore, be creative, encourage and collaborate across departments. Grocers considering adding a restaurant to their locations would do well to consider Piarulli’s tips.