Posts Tagged Crain’s Chicago Business

Crain’s Chicago Business Revisits Marc Schulman & Eli’s Cheesecake

After 24 years, Crain’s Chicago Business revisited and interviewed Marc Schulman, the President of Eli’s Cheesecake. In 1989, Crain’s named Marc one of the 40 under 40, which is a list of now nearly 1,000 up-and-coming Chicagoans. Check out the interview for yourself, read it online: or watch it the interview by clicking the picture above.

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“Scat” to the First Annual Eli’s Jazz Fest! Top 10 Things To Do This Weekend In Crain’s Chicago Business

“SCAT. The Will Miller Quintet and the Matt Carroll Trio serve up the sounds of jazz at the first annual JAZZ FESTIVAL AT THE ELI’S CHEESECAKE WORLD. Bring blankets and picnic gear. Free cheesecake samples will be available. Aug. 16, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Free. 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive in Chicago, IL. “

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“Lessons from My Father” by Rance Crain in Crain’s Chicago Business and Marc Schulman’s letter to the editor in response

In my most recent Blog posting, I shared the article from the
Herzl LIGHT in 1948 on Eli’s sign “if you have no money, you we will feed you
free.” On the same date that I wrote the Blog posting, I sent an e-mail to Rance
Crain, the Editor In Chief, of Crain’s Chicago Business in response to his
article below on “Lessons from My Father–Starting Out in a Downturn Requires
Nerve–Plus Plenty of Optimism.” Both Mr. Crain and my dad started in the
Depresssion and had the vision and courage to overcome adversity and to achieve
long term success.

I was delighted when the Editor called from Crain’s and told me
that that would run my e-mail in this week’s issue as a Letter to the Editor. It
appears below and it is a message that I am delighted to share as we look for
direction and counsel in these challenging times.


From this week’s

Letters to the editor

November 17, 2008
A dad’s

Rance Crain’s column “Lessons from my father” (Focus,
Nov. 10) was most inspirational. I shared it with all 200 of our people at

You don’t hear words like “optimism, enthusiasm and
determination” enough right now. My dad, Eli Schulman, passed away in 1988 at
the age of 78. In reading your column, I thought of all the lessons that he gave
me in how to approach the public and how to overcome adversity.

Eli opened his first restaurant in 1940 and put a sign in the
window that read, “If you have no money, we will feed you free.” He remembered what it was like to be hungry and without money.

We were very fortunate to have fathers who understood and
overcame the Depression. Too many parents and children today have only
experienced prosperity and don’t have the benefit of that ability to deal with
adverse conditions.

Thank you, Mr. Crain, for your continued focus on your business
and people. I was at Crain’s 40 Under 40 reception recently and spoke
with several staff members who spoke of how good it was to have family ownership
that had a long-term perspective to the business as opposed to many of the
failed media deals of the last decade.

Marc S. Schulman
President, Eli’s Cheesecake

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Eli’s Congratulates Crain’s Chicago Business on the First 40 Under 40 Alumni Dinner


Over the years, the publication that our business has grown up with is Crain’s Chicago Business. Crain’s Chicago Business made its debut in 1978, just two years before Eli’s Cheesecake made its public debut at the first Taste of Chicago.

It was Crain’s and then reporter, David Snyder, who in 1987 ran the first major business piece on my dad and how Eli’s Cheesecake was on the move. Two years later, in 1989, Crain’s did its first class of “40 Under 40″ and I was fortunate to be listed in that group along some now very distinguished people, including Oprah Winfrey.

On November 30th, Crain’s brought together over 250 alumni of “40 Under 40″ and introduced the class of 2005. It was a great evening that was highlighted by a keynote speech by Alex Kotlowitz, noted Chicago author whose works include “There are No Children Here.”

Congratulations Crains, Gloria Scoby, David Snyder, and David Blake, and to your presenting sponsor and our bank, LaSalle Bank, for hosting such a great evening.

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Thank you Crain’s Chicago Business for naming Eli Schulman to the Schmoozer Hall of Fame

Crain’s Chicago Business has always had a special place in Eli’s heart. One of its first issues had a tribute by Rance Crain to Eli’s Corn Beef Hash. It was later in 1987, right before Taste of Chicago, that Crain’s did the first major business story on Eli’s and the growth of his cheesecake.

Eli’s has also helped Crain’s celebrate special events by creating giant birthday cakes for it 20th and 25th birthdays.

We were therefore very honored when Crain’s ran a Schmoozer Hall of Fame in connection with a story on some of the top greeters in town. The list below is a great representation of Chicago hosts and we are delighted to see our founder, Eli Schulman, included and pictured.

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Eli’s Partnership with Wright College recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as model for other businesses and community colleges


Locate where your workers are

Nearby colleges can benefit both business, students

By Lisa Leiter

Small businesses looking for ways to retain
loyal, motivated employees should look to the closest community

For the past 15 years Eli’s Cheesecake Co., at 6701 W. Forest
Preserve Drive, has partnered with nearby Wilbur Wright College, one of the City
Colleges of Chicago.

What began with a few training classes at the bakery
has blossomed into a mutually beneficial relationship, one that seeks to improve
the quality of life in the working-class Dunning neighborhood on the Northwest

“The fact is, our ties to the school makes another reason that we
have become an employer of choice,” says Eli’s CEO Marc S. Schulman. “We view
the role of the community college as the centerpiece of the

Wright College has had considerable impact on the firm’s
employees: Hundreds have taken classes there.

When Alice Smart started on
the assembly line at Eli’s, she assumed it would be a temporary job. Her
attitude changed dramatically once she was given the opportunity to earn her
high school equivalency degree at the bakery during her shift.

Now, 16
years later, not only is she still working at Eli’s, she’s been promoted several
times to packaging manager, overseeing 65 employees.

“I wouldn’t have
ever taken the time to go back to school . . . and the school came to us,” Ms.
Smart says. “(Without school) I would have just stayed in one place on the

Educational boost: Alice Smart has been promoted several
times at Eli’s Cheesecake Co. since earning a high school equivalency degree at
Wilbur Wright Collge, which is next door to the plant. Photo: John R.


Wright College, which Mr. Schulman has dubbed “Eli’s University,” helps
the bakery retain a loyal, skilled workforce by teaching English, sign language,
computer and management classes and other subjects. In turn, those Eli’s workers
often end up boosting Wright’s enrollment by sending their children — or
themselves — to the college.

Rebecca Smith, who works in accounts payable
at Eli’s, is an example. Her son, Keith, attended Wright for two years during a
paid internship in the information technology department at Eli’s. He worked in
the mornings and walked to classes in the afternoons.

“It made it
financially easy for me to work and still have a personal life,” says Mr. Smith.
“It was almost like working Monday through Friday and sitting in school at the
exact same time.” He now attends the University of Illinois while working part
time at Eli’s.



Linking up

College students provide a lower-cost, motivated labor pool for Eli’s.
Inexperienced line workers earn $7.75 per hour, while those with some experience
are paid $10.75. An intern position in information technology pays $12 per hour,
well below the $20-to-$25-per-hour rate for a professional with a college

Eli’s flexibility and proximity to the campus enable students to
work their way through school without spending excessive amounts of time and
money commuting.

Tania Alvarado landed her customer service job while a
student at Wright. Eli’s allowed her to continue with morning classes twice a
week during her shift.

“Since I took basic reading and writing classes,
the skills really apply to my job, helped me with writing e-mails,” she

The biggest challenge for Eli’s and Wright is funding the training

The city of Chicago’s year-old TIFWorks program — which takes
property tax revenue and reinvests it into businesses — recently awarded Eli’s
$169,000 for job training through Wright College. In the past, Eli’s and Wright
have won other types of government funds totaling about

Meanwhile, the bakery and the college often team up to host
community events, including a weekly farmer’s market during the summer

“As a community college, we are expected to reach out to the
community and improve the quality of life,” Wright College President Charles P.
Guengerich says. “I think we’re doing that with the help of

Meanwhile, Wright is seeking other corporate relationships. In
addition to Eli’s, the school has trained workers from other area firms
including R. S. Owens & Co., which makes Oscar statues for the Academy
Awards, and bus and truck seat maker Freedman Seating Co.

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