Since UpRising Bakery & Cafe owner Corinna Sac announced plans to close the Lake in the Hills store by the end of the month, online donors have raised more than $34,000.
While the infusion of cash could keep her open, doing so by donation “is not sustainable” in the long run and she is weighing her options, Sac said.
Sac’s business, opened in 2021, came under fire in July 2022 when she announced plans to host a ticketed, all-ages brunch drag show. Online harassment followed and the show was postponed after a vandal attacked the store the night before the event.
Since last summer, the store has seen protesters at the strip mall that houses her business at 2104 W. Algonquin Road and foot traffic dropped off, Sac said. Catering and wholesale customers also quit ordering as her ingredient prices increased. It all led her to prepare to close, she said.
While those in support of her, the bakery and her events also showed up, many were coming from farther distances and could not be there every day.
“They are not traveling here every day and every weekend. It is just not sustainable,” Sac said, adding, “The reason we are where we are is because we continued to lose customers throughout the months and then slow season hit.”
I don’t want to take everyone’s money and not be able to sustain the business.— UpRising Bakery & Cafe owner Corinna Sac
So while an infusion of cash from a GoFundMe campaign set up by Anti-Defamation League Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg could keep her open, “we have not made up our minds yet” on whether to do so, Sac said.
“I am having internal conflicts and reservations. I don’t want to take everyone’s money and not be able to sustain the business,” she said.
Goldenberg said the Anti-Defamation League has been in contact with Sac since last summer and honored her for her work late last year.
“We have been all in with Corinna since last summer and are incredibly moved by her story and her courage,” he said.
As of Wednesday, Sac said she was considering a few options: staying open in Lake in the Hills; moving to a smaller, accepting location; or closing.
If she closes, Sac said, she would ask the fundraiser creator to either return the online donations or ask if donors are OK with her using some funds to pay off final bills, Sac said.
That would be up to her, Goldenberg said, noting the donations did not come with any ties.
“Clearly, this is (the donors’) way to speak out against hate and speak in support of inclusivity and tolerance,” Goldenberg said.
Using the donations to pay off bills is not her preference.
If UpRising remains open and moves, she would like to stay within a 15-mile radius of Lake in the Hills, Sac said.
In the meantime, Sac has shut off comments on social media pages and set a filter in her email to send all messages referring to grooming, drag or other banned words to a “hate” file.
When she gets home each night, she quits answering calls and emails, Sac said.
“Nothing I can do will be right for everyone” and the stress builds up, Sac said. “I am setting boundaries.”