On this day in 1910, our founder, Eli Schulman, was born. An entrepreneur and restaurateur, Eli became a Chicago icon over the course of his life and continues to give back to his community through his namesake company today.
Eli Schulman came from humble beginnings. After the death of his father in 1927, Schulman was forced to drop out of high school and began a series of jobs, including selling scorecards and seat cushions at ballparks over the summer. Eli fell in love with baseball at an early age and his passion for the game continued throughout his life.
Eli opened his first restaurant, Eli’s Ogden Huddle, on Chicago’s West Side in 1940, after he found a foreclosure notice on the door of the local coffee shop that he regularly visited. After only a year of operating the restaurant, Eli joined the Army Air Corps, utilizing his restaurant management skills at bases around the country.
Eli continued his success with the opening of Eli’s Stage Delicatessen in 1962. The delicatessen became a hot spot for visiting celebrities, including Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen, but Eli still wanted something greater. In 1966, Schulman opened his pride and joy, a white-tablecloth restaurant named Eli’s The Place for Steak in the heart of downtown Chicago. Schulman’s large host of celebrity friends followed in the move and at any given time, the restaurant was filled with stars of stage and screen.
Today, Eli’s son, Marc, continues his father’s legacy and The Eli’s Cheesecake Company provides a wide variety of high quality desserts to eager mouths all over the world. The company, like its founder, remains a Chicago icon, offering scholarships to students and sponsoring various events throughout the city.
This week, we honor the giving spirit of our founder by holding a special lunch for all of our employees and offering a gift card to every associate as a token of our gratitude for all of their hard work.
In an interview, Eli Schulman said, “To have come from where I came from, to have known the people I’ve known…I’d have to say that I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
Today, we can all safely say we count ourselves just as lucky as Eli for being a part of his namesake company. And with every cheesecake we serve, we remember the man that started it all.