Eataly reportedly aiming for an IPO in 2018

Italian food hall chain Eataly is making plans for a 2018 initial public offering in its home country, according to a report this week in Financial Times.

The company plans to list shares on the Italian stock exchange in Milan “as early as next year,” Eataly Executive Chairman Andrea Guerra told Financial Times.

Eataly is eager to expand the presence of its massive Italian food emporiums in the U.S., which have helped spur the growing food hall trend. The company has five locations here, with two in New York City and one each in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Financial Times said that Eataly's U.S. sales have doubled following the expansion.

The chain is on pace to generate 470 million euros in sales this year, which would be an increase of nearly 24% over 2016.

Guerra told Financial Times that Eataly can open stores for the next 10 years. “We think we can have a store in every world capital,” he said.

Eataly did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

This isn’t the first time that Eataly has indicated plans to go public. In 2016, the Italian merchant bank Tamburi Investment Partners, which owns a stake in Eataly, indicated that it planned to take the chain public in 2017.

Reports of a possible Eataly IPO come as one of the chain’s partners, the well-known chef Mario Batali, recently stepped down from his fine-dining empire, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, following sexual harassment allegations. Batali is a partner with Joe and Lidia Bastianich, who are also Eataly partners.

Oscar Farinetti founded and created Eataly, opening the first 30,000-square-foot location in Torino, Italy, in 2007. The company opened its first location in the U.S. in New York City in 2010.

The locations have become food theme parks, where customers can watch chefs stretch mozzarella or buy meat, cheese or squid ink pasta from one of numerous retail establishments. Eataly locations also have numerous restaurants and bars. Chicago’s location is 63,000 square feet and has 21 retail departments and 23 restaurants.

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