Inside Bentoville: The “Japanese Eataly” For Goldilocks American Cities

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5 min

Inside Bentoville: The “Japanese Eataly” For Goldilocks American Cities

As Marc Lore hustles to raise another megaround for his “virtual food court” concept Wonder, a scrappy tech veteran is quietly raising a modest $3-5mm from strategic partners to launch Bentoville, an Eataly-style local food hall exclusively focused on Japanese food. That entrepreneur is Phil Libin, most recognized as co-founder and former CEO of Evernote who relocated from Silicon Valley to Bentonville, AR during the pandemic with his girlfriend to double down on their quality of life amidst a shift to remote work. For Libin, Bentonville is a prime example of a “goldilocks city,” one that strikes the right balance between urban density and community life compared to tier one metropolitan cities. He, his girlfriend Tammy Sun, and five other co-founders started Bentoville to provide goldilocks residents with the same variety of highly concentrated restaurant cities like Tokyo or NYC. Launching later this year, the aptly-titled omnichannel concept aims to generate revenue through its food halls, delivery/takeout of its bento boxes, events, and retail. Longer-term, it hopes to introduce Japanese cuisine and culture to the fastest growing markets in the US.

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