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UpRising Bakery in Lake in the Hills plans to close amid 'endless harassment'

UpRising Bakery in Lake in the Hills plans to close amid 'endless harassment'
UpRising Bakery in Lake in the Hills plans to close amid 'endless harassment' 00:38

LAKE IN THE HILLS, Ill. (CBS) -- UpRising Bakery & Café in Lake in the Hills announced Friday that it plans to go out of business at the end of the month due to "horrific attacks" and "endless harassment" for its support of the LGBTQ+ community.

In a news release Friday, owner Corinna Sac reported that her "dream of an inclusive bakery to feed the community has since become a nightmare no businessperson could have anticipated" – and thus, she is closing the bakery on March 31.

"Closing our doors is the direct result of the horrific attacks, endless harassment, and unrelenting negative misinformation about our establishment in the last eight months," Sac said in a news release. "From an award-winning bakery that donates to local organizations and supports diversity and inclusion, we have been rebranded by misinformation as 'gay only' and 'pedophiles.' Local customers no longer come here because of the perceived threat that tarnished our good name and the fears of their license plates are photographed, and they are harassed."

UpRising Bakery & Café first opened in 2021. Sac said she had hoped to make difference by serving delicious food for all – including vegan and gluten-free options – and also by making wedding cakes for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

"Seeing gluten-free and vegan products sold with 350% markup saddened me. My heart broke reading emails from same-sex couples seeking a bakery for their wedding cake. People in this community need us," Sac said in the release.

But vandalism and threats directed at the bakery made headlines beginning in July of last year, ahead of a planned drag brunch. Threatening notes and human feces were left at the door of the café, and Sac reported waking up to hundreds of hateful comments and fake negative reviews online.

"We've had people spit on our bakery case. We've had feces left outside our door. We've had notes that 'pedophiles work here' outside," she told CBS 2 in July.

The vandalism continued. After the glass outside the front door was smashed and a homophobic slur was also spray painted on the cafe's wall, the drag brunch was canceled. Joseph Collins of Alsip was charged in this vandalism.

Sac later accused the Village of Lake in the Hills of discrimination, after the village said UpRising Bakery was not zoned for entertainment and said other businesses have expressed concerns over safety.

The ACLU eventually stepped in, telling the village not rescheduling the drag show would let the vandals and harassers believe they won. A family-friendly drag brunch was later held in early August after UpRising came to an agreement with the village.

But the attacks on the bakery continued and were not limited to vandalism, according to the bakery. A campaign was launched to "discredit, damage and defame Ms. Sac, her staff, her food, and her patrons," with protesters spending more than 120 days on the row on the property, the bakery said.

The protesters photographed license plates of patrons and harassed them on social media, and Sac and her two young children were also doxed, according to the bakery.

"Ugly and abusive comments and threats have been published as well as depicting horrific acts against the family pet," the bakery said.

The bakery said the "horrific harassment, vandalism, and lack of support from local government to mitigate the abuse has resulted in low patronage and low sales."

"Without an infusion of more than $30,000, at this time, I cannot keep the doors open to my dream bakery," Sac said in the release. "I wish to thank every single one of you who have defended us, protected us, and supported us. I am asking for one more favor, help me send off our staff with a little financial protection. The 'tip the bill' campaign will help as all funds will be split among the staff. The goal is to give them each equivalent of one extra paycheck to see them through to their next venture."

UpRising said there are still fundraisers and events planned this month with the hopes that the bakery can stay open – or at least that some of the debt on Sac's family can be reduced.

"Everything I have is in this business, our home, cars, retirement, savings," Sac said in the release. "We put everything we had on the line and personally secured this location, our equipment, and our dreams."

The bakery also noted that Sac recently testified with the Anti-Defamation League before the Illinois House of Representatives about how she and her business had been targeted.

"The impact in Springfield was amazing," Sac said in the release. "Many people knew of us but didn't know exactly what happened and that it continues to happen. My testimony helped get the Civil Liability for Doxing Act; House Bill 2954 by the 103rd General Assembly, and the bill will now go to the legislative floor for passage into law."

Sac added in the release: "If we have to go out, we will go out with a BANG and make it long-lasting and positive. I will do everything I can to make sure what happened to my American Dream doesn't happen to anyone else."

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