business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Eataly Chicago, the 63,000 square foot combination gourmet store/restaurant that opened last week to considerable business - a reported 120,000 visitors, 30,000 transactions and 80,000 diners - after months of public relations hype, closed its doors yesterday.

But just for the day. The company posted a note on its website saying, in part, that Chicago residents had proven that they "understood and grasped our 'experiential' concept and our love for all things Italian and local, along with our priority for high quality food, and passion for education.

"Because of this deep understanding of our manifesto and what we believe in, we have decided to close the store on Monday, December 9th, in order to preserve our standards of quality and service. We want to pay back your love and passion for Eataly Chicago by providing you the best food and the best service."

To be fair, not everybody was buying the Eataly explanation.

Some suggested that the company did not have its delivery and replenishment systems up to standards yet, and needed a day off to restock the shelves.

Others believed that lousy Chicago weather had prevented it from getting needed shipments, and that it made more sense to close for a day than open with empty shelves.

And still others pointed out that the company has been excellent at self-promotion, and that closing for a day would generate yet another round of stories that would prompt even more people to visit and shop there.

It may not matter. (Unless, of course, Eataly does have infrastructure issues that have not yet been resolved.)

Eataly Chicago was scheduled to reopen this morning, and it was expected that the shelves would be full.
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