UpRising Bakery will downsize menu as it looks for new location, owner says

GoFundMe account pays off overdue bills, leaves cash for possible move

Corinna Bendel-Sac, the owner of Uprising Bakery and Cafe, 2104 Algonquin Road, in Lake in the Hills, makes a rainbow cake Thursday, July 14, 2022, at the bakery. UpRising, after announcing a drag show for Saturday, July 23, has faced an incredible amount of harassment and opposition.

The community has spoken, and it wants her to remain open, UpRising Bakery & Cafe owner Corinna Sac said.

Its location likely will be somewhere other than Lake in the Hills, however, Sac said.

She has been approached by three other communities, both inside and outside of McHenry County, offering to become the new home for her embattled business since she announced UpRising may have to close, Sac said in an interview Friday.

“The plan right now is for me, as the owner, to find us a new location that is more sustainable and more accepting,” Sac said.

Sac announced March 17 that short of a miracle, she planned to close her doors March 31, citing ongoing anti-drag protests, increased food costs and a decrease in customers since last summer.

UpRising was making enough money to operate a sustainable business before the protests started, Sac said. She had regular customers, filled corporate and catering orders, and hosted special events to draw in additional crowds.

Then, in July 2022, she began advertising for a family-friendly, ticketed drag show brunch. Online harassment started, and the night before the planned show, the store was vandalized.

The rescheduled show came and went, and Sac continued to offer drag events even as protestors continued to return to the suburban strip mall.

Customers did not return, and bills piled up, leading to the possible closure announcement, Sac said.

I have nothing to be upset about. I have nothing but hope.”

—  UpRising Bakery & Cafe owner Corinna Sac

A GoFundMe fundraiser, set up for Sac by Anti-Defamation League Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg, allowed Sac to pay off past-due balances with “an extremely generous, amazing overage that will be put aside to move the business,” Sac said.

Although the infusion of cash allowed her to pay off bills, relocating to a different location in another McHenry County community will be a better fit, Sac said.

“We will stay in McHenry County because it is my home. We are exploring new locations to move to at a future date. In the interim, we will focus on the bakery and close the café in mid-April,” Sac said in a prepared statement.

Her chef has taken a position elsewhere, so she will cut back on food while expanding the bakery selection. She will continue offering homemade soups in addition to beer, wine and soda in the interim, Sac said in an interview.

While Sac searches for a new location, she does not fault the Lake in the Hills community or customers.

“We have loyal customers who live here and come here,” Sac said. The police “are amazing heroes and have earned all of our respect.”

Her current location, however, tucked away in a strip mall, has never been ideal.

“It was the building that was available when we needed to move” her baking business out of her Huntley home, Sac said.

In addition to higher food costs tied to inflation, her labor cost increased as well.

“Minimum wage is higher than ever. That plays into stuff as well, and we have to comply with these things” as a business, Sac said.

Fewer special events, “a key part of our business model,” were booked since July, also cutting into her revenue, Sac said.

On Friday, Sac said she was feeling OK, if “slightly apprehensive.”

“I thought, ‘Today is going to be our last day,’ but it is not. I have nothing to be upset about. I have nothing but hope,” Sac said.

Although the location likely will change, little else will for UpRising.

“My product, my morals, my values have not changed,” Sac said. “What did change was the amount of hatred and disinformation put out there to take away from those things that people knew and liked about us.”