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Eli’s Cheesecake delighted to host visit by Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights of the State Department

At Eli’s Cheesecake, we are very proud of our long time partnership with RefugeeOne, the largest full service refugee settlement agency in Illinois. Without RefugeeOne, we would would have never met Elias Kasongo, who came to Eli’s Cheesecake in 1994 after being held for 4 years in a refugee camp in Zambia after leaving his home in the Congo. Over those years, Elias has gone from the dish room to becoming Purchasing & Materials Manager with a degree from Northeastern Illinois University, having a beautiful family and now a home owner.

Elias’ story is compelling and we so honored to get a call on Friday that a distinguished visitor to Chicago, Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights wanted to stop by Eli’s to meet Elias. Under Secretary Sewall was in Chicago to speak about atrocity prevention to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She also visited RefugeeOne (where she learned about Elias and Eli’s Cheesecake) and met with the leadership of World Business Chicago and Chicago Sister Cities International.

At Eli’s Cheesecake, Under Secretary Sewall and her colleague, Virginia Blakeman, were able to meet with Elias and  with Vlora Morina who came to Chicago and Eli’s Cheesecake from Kosovo after the War that had brought so much devastation to that area. Marc Schulman, President of Eli’s Cheesecake, and son the Founder, Eli M. Schulman, was able to share a presentation of the history of Eli’s Cheesecake in Chicago including its Big Cakes for Presidential Inaugurals, creating the 50th Birthday Cakes for both Secretary Clinton and President Obama and the company’s strong commitment to the community including the RefugeeOne Partnership.



Virginia Blakeman of the State Department, Elias Kasongo and Vlora Morina, both of Eli’s Cheesecake, Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights of the State Department and Eli’s President, Marc Schulman

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Under Secretary Sewall listens to Elias Kasongo’s story of coming to Chicago from a Refugee Camp in the Congo and achievements at Eli’s Cheesecake.




Vlora Morina speaks with Virginia Blakeman of the State Department about her work at Eli’s Cheesecake and her story of coming to Chicago from Kosovo.

Celebrating the life of Cardinal George & Rita Tierney

Today, April 17th is the birthday of our Dear Friend and Associate, Rita Tierney. It is also a very sad day for Chicago with passing of Francis Cardinal George, a great friend to Eli’s and to Rita.

The story starts in February of 1998 when it was announced that Francis Cardinal George, the first Chicago born Archbishop of Chicago, was going to Rome for his induction ceremony. Rita, then 80 years old, went to work figuring out a way to get Eli’s Cheesecake to Rome for the Celebration. For days, Rita stayed up most of the night speaking to Vatican officials and transportation companies finding a way to get Eli’s treats to Rome. Just when we thought it would be impossible, Rita found a staff member at the Pontifical North American College in Rome who thought Eli’s would be a perfect addition to their event for Cardinal George. Rita then made all the arrangements for transit and personally tracked the cheesecake from their departure from Eli’s to arrival in Rome. We heard initially that everything went well but then found out what a major impact Rita’s hard work had made. Shortly after returning to Chicago from Rome, Cardinal George spoke at the opening of the Lawson House YMCA, just several blocks west of Eli’s the Place for Steak on Chicago Avenue, and an important community center for serving the housing and social needs of the needy in our community. Cardinal George opened his remarks by thanking all of us at Eli’s, as a Chicago company and a member of the Greater North Michigan Avenue community, for providing that great dessert for his induction and that Eli’s had become a favorite for many of the priests attending the event.

Several weeks later, the following letter came to me from Cardinal George sharing his joy and pride in our participation in his important celebration.


The story continues four years later in March of 2002, when I was invited by David Blake, then Publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business to a small luncheon with other business leaders of various faiths and backgrounds to meet Cardinal George and to discuss many of the pressing issues in our community. Just as I was leaving for the lunch, I received word that Rita, at the age of 85, had passed away after an extended illness. I shared Rita’s story with the Cardinal and how she had worked so hard to see those cheesecakes get to Rome.


The Cardinal expressed his condolences and then asked me to schedule a lunch with him to celebrate Rita’s life. A month later, my mother, my wife, Maureen, my associates, Lisa Ripka and Mary Gale (both dear friends of Rita’s) and one of Rita’s sons, and me, were fortunate to have Cardinal George join us for lunch at Eli’s the Place for Steak. The Cardinal could not have been nicer expressing his compassion over the loss of such a dear person and honoring Rita for her commitment to Eli’s, to her community and to her faith.


After that visit, we continued to stay in contact with Cardinal George—sending him and his Associates Eli’s Cheesecake for his birthday and other special events. We also continued our support of the New Horizon Center and dedicated the Atrium at the Center, which is right next to Eli’s, in honor of Rita. We invited the Cardinal to the dedication of the Atrium in February of 2007 but his schedule did not allow it. In March 2009, we were so fortunate to host Cardinal George for lunch at Eli’s Cheesecake and for a visit to the children at the New Horizon Center. The Cardinal, who grew up in the nearby St. Pascal Parish, could not have been nicer. He took pictures, it seemed with everyone at the Bakery, blessed so many objects and then walked over to greet the children at New Horizon. Such a wonderful man.


We have continued to send Eli’s Cheesecake’s to the Cardinal and have joined all Chicago in praying for his recovery. We mourn his loss today but can’t think of how he reached out to console us with the loss of Rita and today we know that Rita is welcoming him!






Marc Schulman to be Keynote Panelist at the Exchange


471572853_640This Wednesday, March 15, is the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Exchange.  The keynote panel this year will be Made in Chicago (MIC) where the exchange will celebrate standout Chicago food and beverage brands that are locally produced and sold in our neighborhoods and around the globe. Marc Schulman, President of Eli’s Cheesecake, will be a keynote panelist, along with Bob Jensen (Argus Brewery), R.J. Melman (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises), and Alejandro Silva (Evans Food Group Ltd.). Learn from these fascinating homegrown Chicago success stories and get real-world advice on how to grow a business from soup to nuts, including sourcing, manufacturing, capitalization, marketing and sales.  MIC keynote will take place from 4:30-5:30 PM at the Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue.

The Exchange 2015 is the Chicagoland Chamber’s signature tradeshow and is expected to draw nearly 1,000 attendees and 100 member exhibitors. Exhibitors and attendees represent a diverse cross-section of businesses, including small, mid-size and enterprise companies from Chicago’s major industries.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Website or click here.

Eli’s Cheesecake Kicks off Spring with this week’s events

Elis_TribAd--4_1_15Eli’s is bringing back their spring Dock Sale with a weekend of savings. The in-store dock sale will take place on Friday, April 3rd (8am-6pm) and Saturday, April 4th (9am-5pm) at Eli’s Cheesecake World in the Bakery Café & Retail Store. Shoppers will receive a free 7” Original Plain Cheesecake with each $25 purchase. Eli’s specialty cheesecakes are the perfect antidote to April showers. Both Eli’s Irish Cream Cheesecake and Eli’s Old-Fashioned Triple Chocolate Cake are guaranteed to be show stoppers for any occasion. Eli’s Original Plain Cheesecake, dessert trays and Salted Caramel Cheesecake made with gluten free top request lists. Eli’s Bakery Café & Retail Store is located at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago 60634. Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 11am-5pm. Local delivery now available for Chicago and select suburbs. Call 773-205-3800 to order.

On Monday, March 30th, Eli’s attended Chowdah Fest at the Columbia Yacht Club. Besides being a wonderful opportunity to sample varieties of the best chowder in the city, and for people to discover the delightful ambiance of the yacht club, it is the biggest and most important fundraiser of the year for the Sea Scout Ship. Columbia sponsors Sea Scout Ship Challenge #5111, one of the most successful and visible Ships in the Chicago area. Through donations from fundraisers such as this, we are able to provide these teenage women and men with valuable experiences they would not otherwise have. Our latest was a trip to Sea Base in the Florida Keys for an 8-day SCUBA and sailing live-aboard adventure. The funds raised at Chowdah Fest allowed us to subsidize two-thirds of the $12,000 cost of the tuition.  Eli’s Cheesecake was delighted to be involved in the event, serving up mini bites of cheesecake and dessert bars.

WSL_4-02-15Yesterday, April 2nd, Eli’s was honored to make a farewell cake for Marlaine Selip, the  executive producer of Windy City Live for the past 4 years.  Marlaine has stepped down from her position, and Eli’s was there to help send her off the best way we know how – with a giant cheesecake!

Eli’s Connects with Food Lovers at Localicious

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        This Friday, Eli’s will be attending FamilyFarmed’s Annual Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum.  The party, also known as Localicious,  gives food lovers the chance to connect with Chicago’s award-winning Chefs, and celebrates the local farmers who grow our food.  Join the party to see – and taste – the chefs prepare amazing savory dishes.  Enjoy food and beverage pairings from some of Chicago’s finest regional breweries & distilleries.

Eli’s will be on-site and providing desserts to those attending the event.  Party-goers will be able to enjoy Eli’s Original Plain, Salted Caramel and Honey Mediterranean Cheesecakes, as well as our Vegan Belgian Chocolate and Vegan Carrot Cake Cheesecakes made with locally-sourced tofu from Phoenix Bean.  To purchase tickets or learn more about Localicious, visit their website. For more information about the Good Food Festival, read this article.

Eli’s Shows Their Green Thumb at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show

FlowerGardenShowLogoThis Friday, March 13, Eli’s will be at the opening night of the Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier.  The event, Evening in Bloom, gives guests a first-look at the show before it opens to the public the following day.  Select Chicago restaurants, including Eli’s Cheesecake, will be providing food for the event.  Eli’s will be featuring Vegan Belgian Chocolate Cheesecake, made with tofu from Chicago’s Phoenix Bean, Original Plain Cheesecake with housemade Raspberry Sauce and Honey Mediterranean Cheesecake, which uses honey harvested by students at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. To learn more about Eli’s honey, please click here. For more information on Evening in Bloom & to purchase tickets, click here.  All proceeds from the event benefit local charities, including the Peterson Garden Project.  

The Chicago Flower and Garden Show opens to the public on Saturday, March 14, at 10:00 am.  Visit the show on Wednesday, March 18, to see Eli’s Cheesecake’s own Executive Chef Laurel Boger present at 1:30 pm.  Eli’s Cheesecake is a proud sponsor of the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.  For tickets and more information on the show, click here.

Eli’s Gets Sweet with the “For Love of Chocolate” Annual Gala


IMG_1618This past Saturday, Eli’s Cheesecake was proud to once again sponsor the annual gala for the “For the Love of Chocolate” Foundation.  The gala, which had a ’70s theme, featured over 100 of Chicago’s most dynamic entertainers, chef and innovators.  Eli’s served up “Psychedelic Blackberry Zabaglione” Cheesecakes to the attendees.

The For Love Of Chocolate Foundation provides scholarships for qualified students in the specialized training of the pastry arts. They awards scholarships to students in the full-time programs taught by The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College.  If you would like to learn more about the foundation, please click here.

Eli’s Cheesecake Around Town

It’s been a big week for Eli’s Cheesecake around Chicago.  On Sunday, we rolled out the red carpet and served dessert at the Gene Siskel Film Center for the “Hollywood on State” 2015 Oscar award viewing. 

 On Tuesday, we served Eli’s Cheesecake on election night, we celebrated the success of Leadbelly Burger’s mash-up fundraiser for the Sunshine Activity Center, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of life skills in persons with developmental disabilities.

Check awarded to the Sunshine Activity Center, a not-for-profit organization

Check awarded to the Sunshine Activity Center, a not-for-profit organization

Leadbelly Burgers created an Eli’s Cheesecake beignet made with Eli’s Cheesecake and Leadbelly’s fresh bread dough. Leadbelly Burger donated half of the proceeds from their beignet dessert sales to the Sunshine Activity Center and Eli’s Cheesecake matched their donation.


We also had the 94.7 WLS Radio Prize Patrol visit the Eli’s Cheesecake Bakery giving away CD’s, concert tickets, t-shirts, key chains and more. Then, it was off to election night to serve Eli’s Cheesecake while waiting for the results.

Wednesday night we celebrated The Chicago Help Initiative’s 15th anniversary of serving meals to those in need! Eli’s provided and served dinner and dessert by volunteers from The Eli’s Cheesecake Company.

Using our own recipes from our restaurant, we  prepared the following menu:

Eli’s Table Surprise – iced vegetable and pickle crudité
Roast tenderloin of beef with demi-gloss
Creamy potato and caramelized onion gratin
Sauté of carrot and green bean
Dressed warm spinach salad with crisp bacon, candied red onion and egg
Eli’s the Place bread basket -rye, fennel, soft roll, bagel chip
Anniversary cheesecake

Thursday night Eli’s Cheesecake and desserts will be served at the annual James Tyree Foundation benefit. 
The Foundation supports educational endeavors that foster creativity and innovation to improve the lives of people in the Chicagoland area. 

Looking ahead to the weekend, we will be at the Love of Chocolate event on Saturday and the 2nd annual Eli’s and O’Briens Irish Cheesecake Bake-Off to benefit Mercy Home for Boys & Girls  on Sunday, March 1st.  Stay tuned for photos and updates. It may be freezing in Chicago, but we are warming hearts around “my kind of town”!

Eli’s to Sponsor Streeterville Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting

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The Streeterville Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting will be held in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater this Monday, March 2, at 5:30 PM.  The Annual Meeting serves to bring together the top leadership and membership of the Streeterville Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the installations of the new officers and directors and the accomplishments of the past year and launch new chamber initiatives.  Don Welsh, President and CEO of Choose Chicago, is the keynote speaker for this year’s meeting.  Eli’s Cheesecake is proud to sponsor this event.  If you would like to purchase tickets, click here.

Since 1989, The Streeterville Chamber of Commerce has been a non-for-profit organization committed to helping members build their businesses by increasing business visibility in the neighborhood. The Chamber works towards developing relationships with its members, as well as strengthening its bonds with other non-profit organizations in the area, in an effort to promote coalition building and partnerships among its businesses. 

Eli’s Cheesecake and LeadBelly Burgers Raise Funds for the Sunshine Activity Center

Last night, we celebrated the success of Leadbelly Burger’s mash-up fundraiser for the Sunshine Activity Center.  Leadbelly Burgers created an Eli’s Cheesecake beignet made with Eli’s Cheesecake and Leadbelly’s fresh bread dough.  Leadbelly Burger donated half of the proceeds from their beignet dessert sales to the Sunshine Activity Center and Eli’s Cheesecake matched their donation.   The highlight of the evening was an impromptu performance of ‘60’s music by members of the Sunshine Activity Center. The Sunshine Activity Center is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of life skills in persons with developmental disabilities and accredited by CARF.

Check awarded to the Sunshine Activity Center, a not-for-profit organization

Check awarded to the Sunshine Activity Center, a not-for-profit organization