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This Adored Italian Grocery and Restaurant Chain Is About To Embark on a Major Expansion

The high-end purveyor of Italian food has just been acquired by a European investment firm.

Lacking top-notch Italian food options in your neighborhood? You may be in luck, as a brand synonymous with high-quality Italian food may be opening a location near you in the not-so-distant future.

Eataly, a high-end Italian grocer and restaurant chain hybrid was just acquired by U.K.-based Investindustrial VII LP for nearly $200 million. The investment firm is assuming a 52% majority stake in the chain and plans on expanding the brand globally. New locations are expected to open across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Additionally, Investindustrial will gain all minority shares in the chain's U.S. locations.

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The first Eataly location opened its doors in Italy (where else?) back in 2007, and since then, it has enjoyed major success and growth. Today, there are eight Eataly locations in North America and 44 in total across 15 countries.

A hybrid grocery store-restaurant, Eataly truly has something for everyone when it comes to Italian flavors and culture. Walk into a typical Eataly location and you'll find a huge selection of imported wines, cheeses, meats, and seafood spread out across various counters, an espresso bar, full-service restaurants, a bakery, and a cooking school.

Eataly entrance
Kit Leong / Shutterstock

The Eataly brand describes itself as "the largest Italian retail and dining experience in the world, transforming the way consumers enjoy Italian food, beverage and culture through markets, counters, cafés, restaurants and educational offerings."

The New York Times, meanwhile, once described Eataly as a superstore that "combines elements of a bustling European open market, a Whole-Foods-style supermarket, a high-end food court and a New Age learning center."

Eataly was originally founded in 2003 by Oscar Farinetti. Oscar's son, Nicola, had been serving as the brand's CEO, but will move into a chairman role once the acquisition is complete. A new CEO will be announced in the near future. Besides the 52% majority stake being taken over by Investindustrial, existing shareholders (including the Farinetti family) will own the remaining shares.

​​"The agreement we signed launches a strategic partnership that propels Eataly into a new phase of its history, by accelerating its international growth. This partnership will allow us to strengthen our unique format worldwide, promote innovative projects related to innovation and enhance our capabilities. We are happy to take this new path together with such a reputable partner as Investindustrial, who shares Eataly's values and vision, and has chosen to support us in achieving our goal to be the Italian ambassador for 'Made in Italy' around the world," Nicola Farinetti said in a press release.

This major influx of funds will help Eataly in two ways: The brand will retire net financial debt while also achieving greater financial flexibility for expansion efforts moving forward.

Per the press release, Investindustrial and all remaining shareholders plan on supporting Eataly's expansion growth via both the opening of new locations and formats as well as a continued focus on sustainability.

Investindustrial has an extensive track record of success in the food industry, having invested over $2 billion in brands like La Doria, Treehouse Foods, and the restaurant chain Dispensa Emilia.

"We are delighted to be able to support Eataly, an example of Italian excellence in the world, as a long-term partner. Thanks to the vision and entrepreneurial ability of the Farinetti family, Eataly represents a unique and innovative player that has led the revolution of the concept of high-quality Italian food all over the world. We look forward to supporting Eataly by leveraging our deep experience in helping companies grow globally with the highest ESG and sustainability principles," added Andrea C. Bonomi, chairman of Investindustrial's advisory board.

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more about John