LAKE IN THE HILLS, IL — Corrina Sac had already made peace with the idea of closing Uprising Bakery and Cafe on Friday after the Lake In The Hills business had been targeted for hosting family-friendly drag shows that led to Sac's place of business being vandalized and she and her staff being constantly harassed.
But facing $30,000 in debt and behind on her rent, Sac watched as a GoFundMe effort raised nearly $48,000 in short order, convincing her to reconsider her decision to close her doors In Lake In the Hills.
Sac told Patch on Friday that the financial gift shows her that people want her business around and is willing to support a bakery that will close its cafe in mid-April and may relocate to another location at a yet-to-be-determined date. But for now, the bakery will remain open at its current location while Sac works to determine her next steps.
"It was clear to me that there are people out there in the community that do want us, that value us and I cannot turn my back on them," Sac told Patch on Friday. "I cannot do that, and I won't do that, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that we are moving forward in a sustainable way to make sure we can serve the community for years to come."
Sac said that rather than close on Friday as originally planned, the business will close the café and focus on the bakery operation. Sac announced the decision on Friday after initially announcing that the bakery and café, would close on Friday. She told Patch on Friday that many people have reached out to her with ideas of where she could move if she decides to leave her current location in Lake In the Hills.
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But if and when that happens has yet to be determined, she said.
“I am grateful to tears for all the help from so many people,” Sac wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. “Because of the groundswell of support, we are able to stay open.”
She added: “People want us in McHenry County. Uprising is more than a bakery with vegan and gluten-free choices, it is a safe space.”
Sac wrote that the café space will be used for private events and to put some retail items on consignment. She said that the business will continue to rely on community support to keep the bakery open. She said that at times, the decision of what to do with her business has taken an emotional toll, especially on her since she is the one who had to make the final decision of what to do next.
She hopes to remain in McHenry County if she does decide to move but says that the GoFundMe effort was the convincing she needed to not close the business's doors altogether.
"What helps me is that if people didn't believe in what we were doing, if they didn't want us in their community, if they didn't see value in us, they would not have donated (to the GoFundMe)," Sac told Patch. "We said we were closing and we were OK with that and these people started the GoFundMe for us to raise the money, to gift it to us, to keep our doors open."
The cafe, months after opening in November 2021, briefly closed when a 24-year-old Alsip man, Joseph I. Collins, smashed windows at the business and spray-painted "hateful messages," according to authorities.
The vandalism on July 24, 2022, was in response to a family-friendly drag show, which had been planned for that day.
Collins used a baseball bat to break a glass door at the bakery and cafe, spray-painted "groomers" on the side of the building, as well as “Christ is King” and another homophobic slur.
The business has gone on to host family-friendly drag shows since then and has drawn criticism from local Proud Boys and other critics. The shop has been vandalized, staff and customers have been harassed and Sac has been threatened, she said.
Sac also claimed last year that she was informed by Lake In the Hills officials that she was not permitted to host the shows the business had in the past. She said that she received a letter from the village saying her business was not zoned for the shows. The village said they would pursue “appropriate enforcement actions” if the business continued hosting events.
In September, more than 80 people packed a Lake In The Hills Village Board meeting to lend their support and, in some cases, opposition to Sac's business. She said that the opposition and harassment led to a "roller coaster" of emotions, which ultimately led her to plan to close the bakery's doors for good.
The harassment has continued, mainly online in recent weeks, said Sac, who was born and raised in McHenry County, where she continues to live with her husband and their children, who are 8 and 10 years old. Recently, her tax documents have been posted online and others have slammed her regarding her children receiving free lunches at school through a state program, which is based on income.
"This has all become increasingly worrisome for us," Sac told Patch last week. "My kids are not OK with it, they are extremely anxious, they are very scared at home, and it's very stressful for my whole family."
But after being convinced she would close her doors, Sac said that the decision to remain open hasn't been easy. She says there is no timeline for how long the bakery will remain at its current location. She said she will keep people posted as the process takes shape, but is grateful for the support she has seen in recent weeks.
She calls the sudden shift "empowering."
"I felt really defeated, and it felt wrong," Sac told Patch on Friday. "It felt wrong to the bottom of my soul that we were closing because of this. I felt like I was closing, and it was being forced upon me — like my bakery was literally being taken from me. That didn't feel right.
"So for me, it's been empowering to see the outreach and support and solidarity of the community because it's renewing that hope in me. It's lifting me up and so it's been empowering for me because I was feeling defeated and now, I feel like there's a way forward, and I just have to find that way. I just have to find the path."
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