We’re thrilled to have with us Enrico Prodi, Head of Operations - Europe at Eataly, the world’s largest Italian food hall group.
Founded in 2007, Eataly now has 44 Eataly sites with 16 in Italy, then UK, Japan, South Korea, USA, Brazil, Turkey, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia, Germany and Sweden
Born and raised in Trieste, Enrico joined the group in 2016 in Italy before journeying to Los Angeles covering LA and Las Vegas, then to Boston as Director of Store Operations. During his time in Boston, he finally beat pre-pandemic business levels before heading to our shores.
Eataly London, which launched in 2021 in EC2, is the largest Italian marketplace in the capital with 42,000 sq ft of food and drink. Visitors can find the best Italian products, restaurants, bars, quick service eats, on-site production laboratories and a cooking school.
In just 12 months, over 3 million people visited the new London hotspot, with 100,000 wine bottles, 95,000 pieces of focaccia and 30,000 units of their creamy in-house made burrata purchased, whilst at Christmas, over 21,000 panettone were sold.
Foodservice News Editor, Becky Martin asks Mitch the major business questions of the moment, and then gets a little more personal.THE BIG QUESTIONS
1. What inspired you to get into this industry and why Eataly in particular?
Coming from an accounting and insurance background, when I stepped into the fresh and dynamic hospitality sector, I found it incredible to be surrounded by experienced food specialists who have a remarkable knowledge on Italian products.
This is by far the most exciting experience for me every day. Why Eataly? Because it’s the biggest Italian food and drink experience worldwide, you could never get bored of the ‘’eat, shop and learn’’ philosophy! 2. What are the greatest changes you’ve seen in food emporiums over the years in the business?
One of the main changes I’ve witnessed over the years is a greater attention to the simplicity of dishes, the origin of ingredients and more awareness to dietary requirements and food intolerances. We need to be more mindful of all dietary requirements, reading product labels more carefully, and educating consumers on the work of each producer behind every ingredient. 3. How are the rise in food costs, industry staff shortages and overall cost of living crisis affecting Eataly?
It is always important to pay constant attention to staff retention in terms of salary, work life balance and an overall healthy work environment. In addition to this, we are always looking at new product selections in our market to satisfy all types of customers as we have a strong, long-standing relationship with all our Italian suppliers, who have become our partners over the year. 4. What makes Eataly so popular?
Eataly is the biggest Italian food & drink experience in London: it is a food market and restaurant concept, a place where you can eat, shop and learn about high-quality Italian food and drink all under one roof. We cook what we sell, and we sell what we cook. Only at Eataly, customers can shop all the same ingredients that are used in our restaurants and counters.
We are different to the traditional food hall model, as all our restaurants and counters are run by us, with our in-house chefs and teams. You can see artisans at work in our open laboratories, making all our produce from scratch every day, such as fresh pasta, pastries, mozzarella, bread, pizza and much more. 5. Are certain meals and products at Eataly favoured depending on the country? Does the Eataly London have standout trends?
Product sales may vary depending on different markets, ex. in Italy, where our menus focus predominantly on the region where the store is located. Here in London, our market boasts a selection of 6,000 products, and we have the biggest Italian wine shop in the UK, with a carefully selected list of more than 2,000 wine labels.
In the restaurants, our standout dishes include pizza margherita, pasta carbonara and our signature dish Spaghetto Eataly, made with 4 simple ingredients straight from our market: Italian wheat spaghetti, 'Afeltra', whole Red Datterino tomatoes, 'Così Com’è', extra virgin olive oil, Monocultivar Taggiasca 'Roi', and fresh Genovese basil DOP from 'Natoora'.
In the market, our freshly made mozzarella is always a best-seller, as well as our guanciale, dry pasta from Gragnano and focaccia, which is made in-house daily by our bakery specialists. 6. What has been the proudest achievements so far in your career? Maybe being involved in the London launch etc?
One of my biggest achievements has been managing a store like Boston with over 350 staff members during the pandemic, whilst being able to achieve the highest revenues and results that met pre-pandemic standards.
Another achievement was being appointed to manage the London store and in a short amount of time, being able to form and drive such a high-level team of managers in London. I’ve also helped to create the bases for key relationships with local consumers and city members, including the Italian Consulate. 7. What plans are there in place for Eataly for this year and beyond?(Cheeky extra question!)
Our goal is to delve even more into the London market: we are currently organising our biggest in-store festival, our second Eataly Birthday, with bespoke menus and entertainment for more than one thousand people. We are also reopening our outdoor restaurant La Terrazza in April with a new seasonal menu. THE GET-TO-KNOW-YOU QUESTIONS
1. What is your favourite on-the-go snack, lunch, and beverage in the week?
Once a week, I always indulge in our iconic dish Spaghetto Eataly and, as an Italian, I cannot start the day without my Caffe’ espresso!2. Beyond your laptop and phone, what items are you never without during the week?
My gym bag.3. What do you do to wind down after a busy workday?
Discover the latest restaurants in the city with friends.4. What’s your most loved restaurant, café, pub or bar?
I am always curious to find new restaurants in London with unique concepts and one-of-a-kind experiences.5. What book or/and TV/Netflix etc programme currently has you gripped?
I have recently discovered Breaking Bad and all the spin offs which I love.6. What have you learnt most about yourself in the last 12 months?
Our overall working environment is a very important part of our lives, especially if you are the one to create the right one. I’ve also placed greater importance to scheduling in some earned quality time with friends and family, because life is too short!Thank you for your insight into the food hall world, Errico. Yes, working in a postive environment is key to the well-being of the Eataly group and all companies. We'll be flagg,ing up Eataly London's second birthday in-store festival when we get the details.