The long-awaited opening Tuesday of Eataly in the Prudential Center was met with a mix of excitement and trepidation among the city’s food community, as local food purveyors steeled themselves for the economic impact that the 45,000-square-foot Italian food emporium — with its 600 employees and 10,000 products — would have on their bottom line.
The wildly popular Eataly chain, which has 30 global outposts, has made attempts to understand the competition and integrate the local culture as a way of warding off fears that the circus has come to town. And that work has paid off, as many industry insiders see Eataly as a boon for the city, its local food movement, and a stretch of Boylston Street that has long played second fiddle to neighboring Newbury Street.
But that excitement is tempered by anxiety that Eataly — a combination of grocery stores, restaurants, and a gourmet food court — might erode the profits of small storefronts or steal shoppers from the last big thing to hit the city’s food scene, the Boston Public Market.
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