I didn’t think I would be able able to write this, but I survived a trip to Eataly Boston. I was so swept away by all the cheese, pasta, and prosciutto that I only took the one picture below. Eataly is the new 45,000 square foot Italian marketplace that invaded The Prudential last week. With over 30 locations worldwide, Eataly Boston is only the fifth location to hit the United States. The enormous campus is home to three restaurants, five bars, various quick-serve stations and a full grocery market.
The only time I had to take a deep breath was to sit and eat some pizza, have a glass of wine, and take this picture. Pretty, isn’t it? Then it was back to the Wonka Factory for Italians.
Many Bostonians are thrilled with the arrival of the Italian mecca, but there’s a large community that is nervous of the influence Eataly will have on small businesses. It’s arrival has brought a need of over 500 jobs in a multitude of roles. With a pre-existing shortage of restaurant industry workers, local restaurants worry they will be losing current and potential employees to Eataly. Everyone knows Boston’s North End is the epicenter of the city’s Italian culture, but many are worried the new marketplace will pull patrons away from their small businesses and restaurants.
Long story short, lots of people are worried about Eataly’s arrival, and rightfully so.
If you were to ask me, I would say Eataly is one of the best things to happen to Boston since Good Will Hunting. Okay, that may be a wicked stretch, but hear me out…
I’ve grown up and lived in the Boston-area my whole life, I know our reputation. Tourists come to Boston for our history, our sports, and our baked beans. You can see a show in the theater district, go shopping on Newbury street, even catch a game at Fenway Park. I challenge you though, try and continue that list of experiential opportunities in our great city that don’t include historical sites or sports. Want a harder challenge? Make a list of experiential opportunities that exist past 11pm. We’re not known for being a late night city, and we’re not necessarily known for being a city filled with lively experiences outside of history and drinking.
Eataly brings with it the idea that we can change these preconceptions.
Boston is has been home to only a few experiential events in recent memory: Red Bull Flugtag, Big Air Fenway, and of course the annual Boston Marathon. Yet Eataly proves that Boston is a viable city for more permanent experiential opportunities, and challenges pre-existing businesses to think similarly. It’s arrival may even influence more events to come to Boston, which there is clearly an audience for.
As for local businesses: Eataly may be great, but the best cannoli in Boston will still be Mike’s Pastry. My favorite pizza in the city will still be a tie between Coppa and Galleria Umberto ( I guess if you separate Sicilian from traditional thin crust, they really aren’t competing.) Eataly isn’t here to replace Boston’s mainstays, it’s here to add to them and hopefully shine a light on them.
So I implore you: this weekend grab your spouse or your buddy, go to Eataly, enjoy a glass of wine and a pizza, grab a cannoli, and remember to support experiential in Boston.
If you’d love to create a memorable experience for your company / or brand, or even just want to talk wine and cheese, shoot me an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @ninjaman173.
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