“10/ 10 is an auspicious day to celebrate our expansion…legend has it that a pair of tens means you’re on the cusp of something big! In our case it’s the newly completed $10 million, 42,000 sq. ft., addition to the west and south side of our existing facility, located on the northwest side of Chicago. Increasing capacity means more great desserts and more jobs!” Marc Schulman, Eli’s President and son of founder Eli Schulman.
This addition makes Eli’s facility 104,000 sq. ft., almost doubling the size of the bakery. This includes Eli’s Corporate Offices, Eli’s Cheesecake Bakery Café, open to the public, and expanded areas for production and packaging lines, warehousing and welfare. Five pop art cheesecake themed paintings were created for the space by contemporary artist Carter Kustera.
The project meets sustainable initiatives set by the City of Chicago by exceeding the energy code and providing landscape methods to achieve 60% native or adapted species and provide a diversity of plant types including flowering plants and grasses.
The expansion is financed by Wintrust with the support of a 504 loan issued by the U.S Small Business Administration. As part of this project, Eli’s increased its employment from 225 to 275 in addition to65 construction jobs from the project. Eli’s entered into a 6(b) tax incentive agreement with the City of Chicago and Cook County for the addition. There is a future phase of the expansion with the buildout of an Innovation & Education Center. That project will be partially funded by a Recovery Plan Community Development Grant from the City of Chicago
Eli’s addition was made possible with an EDGE Tax Credit Agreement with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for the State of Illinois that gives Eli’s incentive for creating jobs. Eli’s is also a participant in a Job Training and Economic Development (JTED) Grant by DCEO with Wright College to create opportunities for students with disabilities from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and Vaughn Occupational High School to work at Eli’s and in the food industry.
“We attribute our long-term success to following my father’s words of wisdom “Charity will never bust you,” and “Treat others as if you were the other,” said Schulman. Toward that end, Eli’s is proud of its long term partnership with Refugee One and World Relief. One of many examples of its success is Elias Kasongo, who came to Eli’s from the Congo over 28 years, starting in the dish room, and is now Vice President of Procurement. For more than three decades Eli’s has hired refugees from Congo, Kosovo, Syrian, Iraq, Ruanda, Burma, and Tibet, and over the last 18 months, has hired over 80 Afghan and Ukraine refugees. Eli’s also hires individuals with disabilities.
“We are immensely proud to celebrate the expansion of Eli’s Cheesecake, an iconic and cherished brand that is woven into the fabric of Chicago’s rich culinary tapestry,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO of World Business Chicago. “This expansion underscores not only the enduring legacy and innovation that characterizes Eli’s but also highlights Chicago’s dynamic business environment that fosters growth and prosperity. As the company extends its footprint in Chicago’s Dunning neighborhood, Eli’s continues to exemplify a commitment to quality, community, and the eclectic charm that makes our city a global destination. We celebrate this milestone with Marc, Maureen, Elana, and the entire Eli’s team, and look forward to the delectable innovations that will emerge, further sweetening Chicago’s world-renowned culinary reputation.”
“Eli’s ingenuity led to the Chicago-style cheesecake four decades ago and today leads to the company’s decision to double down on Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I’m pleased to welcome this manufacturing expansion and offer my gratitude to Eli’s for their continued community investment and support.”
43 years ago, Eli Schulman declared cheesecake to be the signature dessert at his legendary Chicago steakhouse, Eli’s The Place For Steak. It was there that he dreamed up a new way to make cheesecake: His unconventional fast and hot baking method resulted in the creation of “Chicago-style” cheesecake, a beautiful caramelization on the outside and a creamy consistency on the inside, baked on an all-butter shortbread cookie crust. The cheesecake made its public debut at the first Taste of Chicago, July 4, 1980. What began in his restaurant’s kitchen has grown into one of the country’s largest cheesecake and dessert bakeries. Eli’s, frequently referred to as a Chicago food icon, has become a symbol of the City, creating giant celebratory cheesecakes for many of Chicago’s big moments, such as Illinois’ Bicentennial, Taste of Chicago’s Birthdays, City of Chicago Birthdays, Hamilton the Musical, White Sox World Series, Second City 50 Years of Funny and the inaugurations of Mayors Brandon Johnson, Lori Lightfoot, Rahm Emanuel, Richard M Daley, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, President Barack Obama (both) and President Bill Clinton (both), to name a few. A third-generation family-owned business, all Eli’s desserts are handmade and decorated in Chicago!
Check outa video of the bakery construction process: https://youtu.be/bHe8utbvIzA?si=hqUTuE8j0Dqc5uOe