For a couple of years now, word has bounced around that Eataly - the Italian food emporium founded in New York City by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, and Joe Bastianich - was targeting Philadelphia.
Now with a Chicago branch opening today, Joe Bastianich offers a confirmation.
In an interview with Chicago Reader, he says that Philly is probably a year away, followed by Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Marc Vetri, a Batali buddy, has said that the first floor of the old Strawbridge & Clothier store at Eighth and Market was on the table. The vast space could lend itself to Eataly's footprint.
Asked if he had anything to do with Eataly plans, Vetri offered no comment.
I reported that Eataly was looking at Philly two years ago. Then another source insisted that Eataly had shied away from a deal.
I have asked Bastianich as well as a rep of PREIT, which owns the S&C building, for comment.
Franklin Flea occupies the space temporarily.