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The importance of being Italy

Di Antonio Caneva, 23 ottobre 2014

The reputation and consistency of a brand are a formidable sales tool.
A highly attractive zero-cost brand is “Made in Italy”, so much so that a clever businessman has created a chain of grocery stores/restaurants called Eataly (a contraction of “eat” and “Italy”), which has now spread the world over.
In Milan, at the opening of a beautiful three-floor store, in the restructured building of a historic theatre, there were queues of eager visitors for days.
A significant investment, stemming from the vision of a businessman who previously owned a chain of electric appliance stores.
During the inauguration days, a notice posted at the entrance announced, in essence, that the customer is not always right, and neither is the storekeeper, but the matching of the two components provides the best results.
Needless and annoying, pseudo-moralistic haughtiness.
The philosophy of the store is to highlight the excellence of Italian products; we don’t quite understand, therefore, why we find a display of all Spanish hams, champagne, British crisps, German, Belgian and American beers, and, above all, fish coming from the most diverse corners of the world. While we understand, for example, that cod, a fish from the North, comes from the northern Atlantic Ocean, the same does not apply to cultured giltheads from Greece, when the same product is extensively cultured in Italy as well.
In Milan there already exists a shop devoted to food excellence, with products from all over the world, but it carries its own name (Peck), and certainly not the name Italy.
Inside the Eataly store, in midair, a stage has been built for musical band performances, and for a certain period a notice was displayed that “the greatest artists in the world have performed here”, omitting to mention that it had happened at the time when that space was a theatre.
A cunning ruse worthy of an electric appliance store.
On the 4th of October, Il Corriere della Sera published a letter titled “a service never seen”, written by a reader who had a meal in the open air section of the restaurant, and was recounting his experience. I am reporting a passage verbatim: “After waiting for 20 minutes, the hamburgers came: raw, with the meat red mushy and cold inside. The person with me was pregnant, so the meat would even have been dangerous for her. The waiter went to the kitchen and came back saying that, since it had not been requested to be well done, it could be done again paying 12 more euros”.

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