NewsAxios Chicago: Best Day Ever: Lifeway Kefir's Julie Smolyansky

Posted Apr 01, 2022

By Monica Eng, Axios Chicago

Julie Smolyansky took over her family's Lifeway Kefir business at 27 and has grown the Morton Grove-based company into an international empire of probiotic deliciousness.

  • A native of Ukraine, the CEO signed up Lifeway to be the main sponsor of the recent Chicago Chefs Cook for Ukraine. Many dishes there featured her cheese and kefir.
  • As a longtime Chicagoan and wellness, food, and music fan, Smolyansky seemed like an ideal person to tell us about a perfect Saturday in Chicago.

?? Morning: "I usually make myself some coffee and read the newspaper. I like to take my dog Marley for a long walk to Lincoln Park and the lakefront for a swim."

?? Lunch: "I usually skip lunch and snack mid-day because I like to make dinner the primary fun meal. Sipping on kefir is a must and keeps me satisfied."

?? Afternoon: "Ideally I want to be perched in the sun with a good novel and some 1960s jazz music playing softly in my ear. I’m currently reading “Our Woman In Moscow” by Beatriz Williams and I can't put it down."

?? Dinner: "Almost impossible to pick. I LOVE going out to dinner. In the summer, my very favorite is Piccolo Sogno. That fairytale garden is a gem, a city treasure."

  • "I live within walking distance of Boka and love Prairie Grass Cafe. I beg my way to one of the 2 outdoor tables at Boka and always order anything with heirloom tomatoes."
  • "All other seasons, Lula Cafe is on my very frequent hit list as well as Parachute. But the list is so long."

?? Evening activity: "Ideally any live music. I love the foundation room at House of Blues, but Aragon, Metro, the Riv, Vic, a headliner at Wrigley or United Center, all make my heart skip a beat."

  • "If Pearl Jam or Eddie Vedder is playing I am especially in heaven — I stopped counting how many times I've seen them after 60 shows."