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Eataly Is Crushing the Fancy Grocery Store Competition

Eataly/Facebook
Eataly/Facebook

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While retail-restaurant chain Eataly's business is booming—the Madison Square Park location alone makes $85 million annually, and outposts continue to be built in cities like Munich, Sydney, and Toronto—another fancy grocery haven, Whole Foods, is struggling. In a profile with Fast Company, Eataly's CEO Nicola Farinetti explained: "Imagine if I tried to do a crazy event at Whole Foods. People would get mad, like, ‘I just came here to shop!' But because this is Eataly, I can do all this stupid stuff and people understand it."

That experiential concept, which references the old-world markets of Italy and Istanbul, is what makes Eataly such a draw. "There is no distinction between restaurant and retail," he said. "You can eat and buy, or buy and eat."

Meanwhile, Whole Foods was one of the worst-performing stocks of the S&P 500 last year, according to Fast Co, perhaps due to the fact that aside from a few exceptions (the Gowanus outpost, for one, which has a rooftop restaurant), Whole Foods offers the same grocery-store experience regardless of location.

Farinetti also discussed, albeit briefly, the forthcoming World Trade Center Eataly, offering only this tidbit: "It's going to be wild—I can't even imagine yet how it'll look at nighttime."