As food halls move into big cities across the country, serving as food courts for those seeking high-end meal options, Eataly in particular has stood out as the food hall of food halls, opening its Chicago unit at the end of 2013.

The new site was so popular in its initial week of operation that it was forced to close down for a day to adjust to the demand. Since then, it’s been routinely jammed with hordes of diners and shoppers, seeing an average of 10,000 coming through the doors every day. What makes it so appealing to the mobs of locals and tourists alike is, in part, the equal emphasis on food service and retail.

It’s also a larger, improved version compared to the first U.S. site in New York City, says operating partner Joe Bastianich. The Eataly team learned lessons from their New York store, making adjustments to improve navigation and tailoring both prices and restaurants to cater to the local market. 

One-stop shop. Eataly’s vast open market, with 21 retail departments and 23 restaurants, spans two stories and 63,000 square feet. On the second level, the Birreria room serves up bar snacks and local beers. Cheese, meats and more can be purchased to take home. But if guests want to sample before buying, they can grab a snack or dine at one of the many eateries, such as the I Salumi E I Formaggi counter.

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