After opening outposts in 31 cities in 12 countries across the globe, the Italian fooderie Eataly is returning to its birthplace with its newest launch: a $118 million experiential park called FICO Eataly World.
When it opens in Bologna, Italy, in November, Eataly World will span 25 acres and feature pastures, more than 40 restaurants and food stalls, and learning centers that allow visitors to explore the country’s agricultural and food-manufacturing processes (while riding chic adult tricycles from Italian bike maker Bianchi).
“Eataly stores are focused on the restaurants and the shopping,” says Eataly World CEO Tiziana Primori. “We’re now going to take you backwards into the production that goes into the culture of how the food is grown and made.”
To entertain and educate the expected 6 million annual visitors, Eataly World will have 30 daily interactive workshops taught by seasoned farmers and chefs.
A section of the park called the Area of the Future, designed by architect Carlo Ratti of the MIT Senseable City Lab, will teach visitors about sustainable agriculture by letting them plant seeds in a hydroponic vegetable garden.
“Eataly’s mission has always been to share Italy’s quality and biodiversity with the world,” says Eataly USA CEO Nicola Farinetti. (To that end, the company is continuing to focus on U.S. growth and will soon add outposts in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.) But Eataly World takes the mission even further. “This is farm to table in the true sense of the phrase, where you can touch everything with your hands and learn and appreciate it even more.”
Milestones: Eataly continues to embrace fast casual with its first all-ravioli takeout counter, which opened in July in New York.
Challenges: The company’s massive investment in FICO Eataly World could be at stake if retail sales don’t go as planned, since admission to the park will be free.