West Loop Salumi will sell its cured meats at Eataly Chicago, when the 70,000-square-foot Italian market and food hall opens in November in River North.
Greg Laketek, owner of West Loop Salumi, Illinois’ only USDA-certified salumeria, says he was approached by Eataly New York managers interested in adding his products in Chicago. After sending a few samples, Laketek says they were sold. He also says he was pleasantly surprised by Eataly’s offer. “They plan on paying us top dollar for our product,” he says. To begin, Eataly will sell West Loop’s gentile, mariola and culatello salami and pancetta, Laketek says.
Laketek talked with Grid in July about the amount of time it takes to make his artisanal air-dried meats (up to 18 months), but he says production for Eataly is doable. He will need more helping hands, though, and is looking into hiring experienced salumi makers from Italy. Otherwise, “it’s hard to really train that many people just on the spot without me being there every day,” Laketek says.
West Loop Salumi is one of the many local food-makers likely to land at Eataly Chicago, which is under construction in the old ESPN Zone space. “We’ll look for what we feel are people who are doing a great job of producing high-quality, small-production products,” Alex Saper, part of the team heading up the Chicago project, told Grid last month.
Eataly Chicago is backed in part by Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, owned by celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich.
ABOVE: Photo of Greg Laketek by Heath Sharp