By 9:20 AM, it was hard to move though the crowd. Such was the interest in the grand opening that 10-minute coffee lines stretched long past the rush hour peak: this morning, Pusateri's arrived at Toronto's Eaton Centre

Inside Pusateri's, image by Alexander VuInside Pusateri's, image by Alexander Vu

Located in the basement of Saks Fifth Avenue at Queen and Yonge, the high-end food hall designed by GH+A Design Studios welcomed its first customers at Toronto's Eaton Centre. Combining elevated grocery store staples with a café, a champagne bar, a rotisserie—known here as a 'rosticerria'—a Roman-style pizza counter, sushi and salad stands, and a one-of-a-kind Saudi Arabian date boutique, the 25,000 ft² space adds a new destination to the diversified offerings within the Hudson's Bay building. 

The Rosticceria, image by Alexander VuThe Rosticceria, image by Alexander Vu

Following on the heels of Saks Fifth Avenue's February opening and the Leña restaurant's late Summer launch at the northwest corner of Yonge and Richmond, the Pusateri's food hall marks another step in the Hudson Bay building's evolution. Although Leña is the only one of the new retailers to contribute a notable street-level presence—and the urban vitality that entails—Saks and its accompanying food hall have changed the dynamic of the space inside. 

Produce comes carefully stacked, image by Alexander VuProduce comes carefully stacked, image by Alexander Vu

Like its Sherway Gardens counterpart, the food hall combines the basic—albeit decidedly high-end—offerings of a small supermarket with a series of counters devoted to specialized (and in many cases otherwise hard-to-find) food and prepared meals.

The cheese counter features high-end products from around the world, image by AlThe cheese counter features high-end products from around the world, image by Alexander Vu

The distinctive herringbone floor pattern is also shared with the Sherway location, demarcating the store as a separate entity within the retail-filled basement.  

Entering the store, image by Alexander VuEntering the store, image by Alexander Vu

Inside, much of the space is devoted to on-the-go food, catering to Downtown's lunch and after work crowds. Alongside the pizza, sushi, and rotisserie counters, the butcher features a wide selection of prepared sandwiches.

The butcher, image by Alexander VuThe butcher, image by Alexander Vu

Cakes and confectionaries also make up much of the store, with the standalone 400 ft² Sorelle and Co. bakery—the local outlet's second location—turning out a wide selection of vegan and gluten-free treats.

Sorelle and co., image by Alexander VuSorelle and co., image by Alexander Vu

The high-end space is accented by visually engrossing displays, amping up the experiential element—the 'event' of shopping—increasingly prioritized by major corporate retailers.

The Pasticceria, image by Alexander VuThe Pasticceria, image by Alexander Vu

Nonetheless, the morning crowds and queues exposed the luxurious space's limitations, with the subterranean store feeling somewhat cramped amidst the rush. Soon enough, standing in line for an espresso in the basement becomes just that, even if it's at a marble counter.

Coffee time, image by Stefan NovakovicCoffee time, image by Stefan Novakovic

Still, the new Pusateri's provides an important infusion of supermarket space to the Downtown core. While the counters and ready-to-eat meals are sure to please local workers, the convenience and selection also make the place a viable, albeit expensive, option for after work grocery shopping. For some, the location alone will certainly make Pusateri's a worthwhile place to pick up a few things—or even the full list—on the way home. 

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