A beloved Chicago cheesecake staple is expanding to create a new center, and it will get a grant from the city. Located inside Dunning bakery’s recently expanded production facility, Eli’s Cheesecake Company will use the $1 million to build its forthcoming innovation and education center
Eli’s started building an expanded space on the Northwest Side over the summer. With 42,000 square feet of production space, the new renovations are said to cost around $9.5 million and will focus on creating additional kitchens, hiring more employees, and creating new products. The initial site expansion has a team at the ready that includes Architect Michael Aragona of Aragona Architects (who were the original architect for Eli’s first bakery in 1996) along with general contractors Summit Design, and owner rep as Joe Friedland of Birt Properties.
Now, with the addition of $1 million from the city, Eli’s is set to create an education center filled with programming. Eli’s will also put an added $1 million of their own into the project as they’re committed to opening an inclusive, original space. This awarded grant is part of a $40 million community development initiative by the city meant to encourage economic activity.
As for the new innovation center, it is said to feature a place for product development, while also affording students and bakers more space to learn and work. Because of the grant, Eli’s will be able to host employee education programs at the extended space whereas before, company training and graduation happened within small kitchens, cafes, or other schools in the area.
One program they already offer includes ‘English as a second language classes’ through an onsite GED program with Wright College. The locally founded business has been around since the 1980s, and over time has set up connections with The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and Vaughn Occupational High School to help spread information about the food industry and subsequent businesses around it.
The extended production facility will hopefully be ready by May, with additional resources put into the hiring practices as well.
This is a great step forward as Eli’s continues to flourish both as a company and physical space. By growing the business and the space, it will offer education and employment opportunities that were once not an option for cheesecake company.
Address: 701 W Forest Preserve Dr. Chicago, IL 60634
[Featured photo via: Eli’s Cheesecake Company]