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L.A.'s first Eataly reached a crowd size that many a box office would envy.

Charlie Heller
November 08, 2017

Massive, multiple-hour lines, thousands of people cramming into one building, sold-out events and streams of obsessive fans may seem like a fairly standard affair in Los Angeles, but there was something decidedly different about the recent iteration this weekend. Yes, while this particular event was like a movie premiere in its crowd size, dedication and enthusiasm (and coverage in The Hollywood Reporter), the massive fan convergence taking place was not for the latest Thor movie, but for the grand opening of Eataly L.A., which is the city's first.

In fact, the Westfield Century City-located was so popular that, according to its Twitter, it spent all of Monday closed, in order to "reassess, and give our people some well-deserved rest." According to a THR source, the Mario Batali-led Italian food marketplace was "a madhouse," with three-hour lines made up of nearly a thousand people. Fortunately, between the staff and the customers, "everyone was nice and understanding," and understood just how wild the whole event was.

Of course, when you think about it, anyone who's ever enjoyed some fresh tagliatelle or grabbed a focaccia to go won't be particularly surprised that the 60,000-plus-square foot Eataly L.A. would be so packed, especially when it includes new quick-serve food stations for panigacci (Ligurian flatbreads) and Roman-style pazza alla pala. And the reassessment, it seems, has led to a quick new system for the store, which now uses a hot pepper-based rating system to provide live updates on the entrance wait time.

Could this have been the plan all along? An Eataly rep told THR that new stores "always take a day to reassess the store after the opening," so perhaps the packed weekend wans't totally unexpected. Either way, let's hope that when the 20-acre Eataly World opens next week, its ready for the biggest crowd yet.