UpRising Bakery not allowed to host events due to village zoning, officials say

Village officials said drag event scheduled for last week was never permitted

Jacqui Murk, right, of Crystal Lake, and her daughter, Izzie, write notes of support on the boarded up window at Uprising Bakery & Cafe in Lake in the Hills, on Monday, July 26, 2022, after the store reopened Sunday after its front windows were smashed and epithets written on the walls, to long lines and enthusiastic community support. The cafe, which was planning to host an all-ages drag show Saturday night, had experienced backlash over the previous few weeks.

A week after its store was vandalized leading up to a drag show, the UpRising Bakery and Cafe in Lake in the Hills is being told by the village to stop hosting events.

Despite hefty police protection last week both before and after the shop was vandalized, along with police plans to monitor potential protests during last Saturday’s planned drag show, the village of Lake in the Hills said in a news release Saturday that UpRising was never permitted to host such an event in the first place.

Specifically, the July 23 event would have violated the village’s zoning regulations, the release states. Village zoning prohibits entertainment in that area due to how close it is to residential neighborhoods.

“The village seeks to administer zoning ordinances and policies in a fair, efficient and professional manner in order to promote and safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the Lake in the Hills community,” the release states.

The release came in response to a video posted to Facebook by UpRising owner Corinna Bendel Sac on Saturday afternoon, where she laid out what she was told by the village, and explained what was happening with her business.

On Saturday, July 30, UpRising was set to host a Disney karaoke night, but it, along with other events were canceled due to the village’s letter, Sac said in the video. Sac also said a meeting she had with the village last Thursday was “very threatening.”

“Our backs are being forced up against the wall by our landlord and the village of Lake in the Hills,” she said. “We’ve been holding events, pretty much since the day we’ve been open.”

Sac has wanted to start hosting events to boost the bakery’s revenue, calling that revenue “essential.” It helps “bridge the gap,” she said.

Sac said it wasn’t until this past week that she was told the business wasn’t properly zoned. She also called what the village is doing a “conspiracy” to stop her business, describing the village’s actions as “coincidental.”

The village, in response, also shared complaints from other tenants and property owners that occupy space in the Cedar Ridge Plaza strip center, where UpRising is housed, according to the release.

In a follow-up, the village contacted Sac again to see if she would comply with the zoning, but received no response, the release states. As a result, the village sent out the letter.

Sac did not respond to immediate requests for comment for this story.

Kevin Fee, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, who is working on behalf of UpRising, said Sunday in an email their party has sent a letter to Lake in the Hills saying the village’s actions are unconstitutional and violate the business’ First Amendment rights.

“It’s really unfortunate and unfair that, instead of protecting UpRising from vandals, bullies, and extremists, [the village] is instead giving the bakery’s attacker exactly what he apparently wanted — shutting down this local business’s constitutionally protected speech,” Fee said in an email.

The drag show was expected to be a family event, which saw children’s tickets discounted. Leading up to it, it received criticism from many residents and organizations, with Sac and the bakery receiving harassment. It was also expected that both protest and counter-protests would take place outside the shop at the time of the event.

Despite this, after the store was vandalized around midnight Saturday, July 23, Sac and the bakery received an outpouring of community support, with even those against the show saying those responsible for the vandalism should be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” It also opened to long lines the following Sunday and Monday.

Last week, Lake in the Hills Village President also expressed support for UpRising following the vandalism.

Alsip man Joseph Collins was charged with a hate crime tied to the vandalism.