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Eli’s factory promotes local farmers market

WLS
By Steve Dolinsky

July 25, 2007 – There are dozens of farmers markets in our area this time of year. But there’s only one next to a cheesecake factory.

The folks at Eli’s do much more than just bake cheesecakes on Thursdays. They also invite the community to stop by. Our Hungry Hound did just that on a recent Thursday.Eli’s is no stranger to Chicago. They sold more than 170,000 slices at the Taste this year. But every Thursday, they open their doors and parking lot to
the public, cooking up food, selling produce and flowers and offering tours of their massive factory. There’s a lot of excitement this week as they gear up for National Cheesecake Day on Monday.

At Eli’s Cheesecake Factory, on the far western edge of Portage Park, they invite a number of vendors to fill up their parking lot.

“We had the opportunity to offer great produce from people like Nichols and Seedling but also to have a lot of activities and bring a lot of our community partners together to celebrate each Thursday during the summer,” says Marc Schulman of Eli’s.

At Eli’s, they break out the grill, and serve food of course but there’s also some live music and the chance to go inside the factory to get a tour of the
plant and see how those famous cheesecakes are made.

If it’s too hot outside, Eli’s also has a full-service cafe, loaded with everything from wraps and paella to a number of homemade desserts, much more
than just cheesecake.

And while regional farms such as Nichols and Seedling are on hand, so too is the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. The Mount Greenwood School makes the weekly trip so students get exposed to the marketing side of the business.

“The students participate in everything,” says Roberta Tetrey of Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. “We weed the farm, we harvest the farm, so we bring them here. They participate and they’re selling all the vegetables that we have here are from our farm and picked daily fresh with the students.”

Schulman says the market is more than just a chance to come out and buy something. He wants it to be a destination on the city’s far Northwest Side
where anyone from kids to seniors can have a full afternoon.

“We have a complimentary breakfast in the morning if you shop at the market, then stay over for lunch,” Schulman says. “You can really make a morning or an afternoon out of it.”

Beginning with tomorrow’s market, they’ll be giving away free slice–one per person–everyday during the afternoon through Monday.

The Eli’s Cheesecake Factory
6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive
773-736-3417

National Cheesecake Day is Monday, July 30th.

Eli’s is open Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.