GRAND OPENING FOR THE BROADGATE STORE
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended the grand opening of Eataly London at Broadgate alongside Global CEO Nicola Farinetti, Eataly Founder Oscar Farinetti, Italian Ambassador to the UK Raffaele Trombetta and Sally Jones, Head of Strategy & Technology at British Land.
The event took place the 20th of May, was marked by a ‘pasta ribbon’ cutting ceremony and was the culmination of Sadiq Khan’s London “Let’s Eat” campaign, driving diners and customers back to the city to enjoy hospitality after the long months of lockdown.
The ‘pasta ribbon’ cutting ceremony is a tradition for the brand and being able to do this alongside such key figures from London really made this a memorable moment for the business.
Eataly is the world’s largest Italian food market and restaurant concept and has over 40 stores across 15 countries around the world, with the London one being the first in the UK and employing more than 300 people.
Opening its first London restaurant in the middle of a pandemic was not easy for Nicola Farinetti who said that London has been on its radar for several years: “It’s been pretty challenging. It’s been difficult working remotely from the head office in Milan, understanding Covid regulations from a different geographic area, hiring people, training people,” said Farinetti during an interview while seated in Pasta e Pizza, one of two restaurants in the new Broadgate location, situated next to Liverpool Street station.
The brand pushed back the original opening date in the second half of last year as the pandemic took hold and the restrictions “made it impossible” to launch the 42,000 square foot space that includes restaurants, bars and a retail concept.
Eataly opened the market and retail space on April 29 along with its takeaway offering and outdoor dining concept, La Terrazza di Eataly. Its indoor ground-floor restaurant began serving customers on May 17 in line with the government regulations while its new restaurants Cucina del Mercato and Pasta e Pizza opened with the ceremony attended by the London Mayor.
Farinetti explained that hiring staff in London has been a challenge. Like many hospitality businesses, finding 300 workers to staff its new store was also no easy feat because as venues reopened to the public last month, hospitality employers were struggling to recruit waiters and chefs to fill the 355,000 positions lost during the pandemic: “We’ve been able to find good talent but it’s going to be a challenge for quite some time. A restaurant job has been a hard position to handle in the last year so many people are deciding to transition, or maybe they feel it’s not a job they feel secure in anymore.”
The business is however promising: Eataly London has more than 20,000 reservations in June for the two restaurants and the response to the opening of its other dining outlets has also been positive. Considering that the amount of people let into the store is actually much smaller than what planned before the pandemic, the London Italian megastore was visited by more than 100,000 customers in the first 15 days after its opening. Almost 10,000 people a day ate in the outside space and the retail is going very well.
With the UK’s Covid restrictions set to be lifted fully from June 21, Mr Farinetti expects an even higher footfall in the summer. “People cannot wait, they are ready to go out. They understand how Covid works and what they need to do to be careful. The number of vaccinations is growing, there is trust in the scientific community. So I’m not worried. I just know I need to be patient”, he said.