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Eataly Eyeing Former ESPN Zone Building For Chicago Locale?

By Chuck Sudo in Food on May 8, 2012 7:20PM

Eataly's ricotta and spinach cannelloni. (Photo Credit: Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist)

My weekend trip to New York City included a requisite stop at Eataly, the food emporium from Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich that I can best describe as "Fox & Obel on human growth hormone." It was over-the-top, overloaded my senses, and I walked away a convert hoping for Molto Mario to find a location for his rumored Chicago Eataly soon.

According to Grub Street Chicago's Mike Gebert, they may have found their location in the former ESPN Zone building. Every Chicagoan I ran into in New York this weekend—and with the James Beard awards happening on the same weekend as the Five Boro Bike Tour, it was like I hadn't left—was wondering what space close to Michigan Avenue would be able to accommodate an Eataly and bring in the foot traffic. As Gebert noted, this fits the bill.

At 35,000 square feet, the building is slightly smaller than Eataly's 50,000 square feet New York location. But it's the location that will determine its success. Both Fox & Obel and the Chicago French Market are in areas that aren't the most accommodating for shoppers, or tourists. If an Eataly does go in at the former ESPN Zone, they'll have both of those questions answered with authority.