Posts Tagged History

History on the northwest side of Chicago: Olson Park at the Olson Rug Company

When we designed Eli’s Cheesecake World on Chicago’s northwest side, our goal was to create a state of the art facility that was good for our people, our products and visitors. Since we opened in 1996, we have been honored as the best food tour in the country by Top 5 on the Food Network, hosted many special events including our annual Eli’s Cheesecake Festival and weekly
Farmer’s Market during the summer and enjoyed our partnership with important organizations like the New Horizon Center for Developmentally Disabled, Wright College and Vaughn High School.

Chicago is a great place to do business. I learned that growing up from a father, Eli. who always wanted to promote Chicago as a great place for visitors and residents. One thing that I got from my father was a love of Chicago history. As a high school senior, I became a member of the second class of docents for the Chicago Architecture Foundation and I continued that interest as a director for the Landmarks Preservation Council and as a Trustee for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

I maintain an interest in Chicago history and now collect historic Chicago postcards and Century of Progress memorabilia. One post card that caught may eye was that of Olson Park at the Olson Rug Company at the corner of Cicero and Diversey just a few miles east of us. Now the home of the Macy’s (Marshall Field’s),Furniture Warehouse, the Olson Park was built by Walter Olson in 1935. Taking nearly six months to complete, the project took 800 tons of stone, 800 yards of soil and 3,500 perennials along with many species of junipers, spruces, pines and annuals. The Park also had a rock garden, duck pond
and 35 foot waterfall. Regrettably the waterfall was turned off and the Park closed in 1971 when it was converted to a parking lot.

As we dream about future opportunities for beautifying our property and enhancing tourism to Chicago, it is nice to have inspiration right in our neighborhood.

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Eli’s Roots in Serving Restaurants

This Thursday I will be in Phoenix speaking at the Stagnito Top Gun Executive Food & Beverage Forum. It is a great opportunity to learn from other industry leaders on the constantly changing marketplace and to get ideas
on how to continue to build our business.

My topic is “Targeting Foodservice.” The invitation came about in May after Harry Stagnito, the CEO and Founder of Stagnito Publishing visited our booth at McCormick Place during the NRA Show. Among the hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees, Harry saw the quality of our products and our ability to tell our story to the trade as well as to our customers and fans.

My dad and our founder, Eli Schulman, would be very proud of that invitation as the NRA Show and McCormick Place were so important to him. For a number of years, Eli served as an appointee of Governor James R. Thompson
to the McCormick Place Board. As a person who was so committed to the convention and visitor industry, Eli wanted every visitor to McCormick Place to have a great experience. Below is a photo from May of 1981 showing Eli helping cut the ribbon to open the NRA Show that year.

You can imagine Eli’s pride in 1985 when his cheesecake had grown enough to take it to this most important national show for the foodservice industry. We have been in the NRA Show every year since… and we are delighted
that the show will be staying in Chicago.


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