SAN JOSE — Eataly, a new Italian food marketplace that’s gearing up to open at San Jose’s Westfield Valley Fair center, is working to hire hundreds of workers for what could be a destination attraction in Silicon Valley.
The food hall, which aims to tap the curiosity and innovation that’s part of Silicon Valley’s DNA, is seeking workers for a wide range of positions, said Raffaele Piarulli, head of Eataly in North America.
“We have turned on the hiring engine at full speed. Construction is close to being done,” Piarulli, chief operating officer of Eataly North America, said in an interview with this news organization.
The Eataly food marketplace intends to hire more than 300 employees to work at the upcoming Valley Fair location.
“It takes a small army to run a flagship location like this one,” Piarulli said. “There are positions available in all fields, servers, general managers, floor managers, cook chefs, culinary talent at all levels,” Piarulli said. “We are happy to expand the size of our team in the U.S.”
Eataly held a job fair on April 15 on the first floor of the shopping mall, Piarulli said.
“You can work in a field where you can develop a passion for what you do,” Piarulli said. “People want to do something they love. The jobs put our employees into contact with what they love — food. We can champion, we can foster, all of that passion. People are seeking a purpose.”
The food marketplace will operate on three stories at Valley Fair and occupy a total of 45,000 square feet. The food hall is slated to open sometime “within the next few months,” Piarulli said, although he didn’t offer a more precise timeframe.
“Valley Fair bringing in Eataly demonstrates its desire to become a destination-focused mall,” said Bob Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a land-use consultancy. “It’s competing with Santana Row and needs to differentiate itself.”
The unique nature of the Eataly operation — a culinary experience that’s more than a restaurant, more than a store, more than a place to learn about food — could create a new destination for San Jose. Eataly has other marketplaces across the country, from Los Angeles and Chicago to Dallas and New York.
“This will be a highly successful draw,” Staedler said.
“We will have two massive restaurants, an entire market, fresh food counter, seafood counter, cheese selections, pasta selections,” Piarulli said. “You will have this feeling of being surrounded by a ton of food, both quantity and quality.”
The Eataly experience in this area is intended to be immersive, he added.
“You will see artisan products, you will see talent, you will see people touching food, you will see the action involved in producing and presenting food,” Piarulli said. “Our kitchens will be visible, you will see how pasta is made, how bread is made.”
Eataly executives believe Valley Fair — and Silicon Valley — makes for a great location.
“Valley Fair is a phenomenal center,” Piarulli said. “It is literally in the center of Silicon Valley. People just gravitate towards this shopping center. It is being updated, redone and expanded. It is pristine and contemporary.”
Eataly also believes that it can capitalize on the innovation culture in a unique economic region whose workers have unleashed countless cutting-edge technological breakthroughs.
“This is innovation meets curiosity about food,” Piarulli said. “We are excited about being in Silicon Valley because of the education and sophistication that surrounds us. So many people in Silicon Valley are interested in learning. That is a great platform for us.”