This week's Epstein Throwback Thursday journey takes us back to Chicago, May 1959 for the opening of the 115,000 square foot Kitchens of Sara Lee office and cake production plant. This modernist one-story building, which was located at 5353 N. Elston, featured a bakery with colored structural facing tile and floors with smooth-faced split brick. In addition, the roof structure consisted of enameled precast concrete slabs on a structural steel framing.
Our MEP engineers also designed a sophisticated heating and cooling system between the ovens and the packaging areas which permitted comfort cooling for warehouse workers who were just a few feet away from the massive baking equipment.
Another interesting factoid about his building is that shortly after it was completed the owners of Sara Lee asked Epstein to begin planning and designing a similar building in Deerfield to help meet the overwhelming demand for Sara Lee's signature cakes. This planning effort led Sara Lee to make the ultimate decision to direct Epstein to design and engineer a much larger 500,000 sf bakery in Deerfield, a plant that would produce all of Sara Lee's dessert cakes, Danish pastries and rolls and food distributed throughout the United States. Which meant that this Elston facility would be sold by Sara Lee in 1965. Talk about a short shelf life!
If you are curious, this building no longer stands and in its place is a Mariano's Grocery Store – in which you can buy a Sara Lee cake!