By Bob Bong
Brown Sugar Bakery founder Stephanie Hart announced last week she will be buying the Cupid Candies factory at 7637 S. Western Ave. in Chicago.
Hart said she needs more space and will be moving her bakery kitchen to factory site but will keep her original shop open at 328 W. 75th St. in Chicago.
Cupid owner John Stefanos, son of the founder, will retain Cupid locations in Oak Lawn and Orland Park.
The shop at 4709 W. 95th St. in Oak Lawn opened in 1956 and is known for its old-fashioned, ice cream soda fountain. The Orland Park shop at 9420 W. 143rd St. has been open since 1993.
Hart opened her business in 2004 and Stefanos’ father opened Cupid in 1936.
The purchase was made possible in part by $11 million in grants to 32 minority-owned small businesses and business incubators across the state announced by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity last week. The department’s Office of Minority Economic Empowerment awards the so-called OMEE grants.
As a black business owner, Hart received $500,000, the maximum grant awarded. Brown Sugar will use the grant to buy the factory, as well as the Cupid Candies name.
Brown Sugar also has retail outlets at Navy Pier and on the West Side.
Hart said all employees are expected to remain. They will continue to make all the Cupid ice cream bars and chocolate.
Cupid and Brown Sugar items should be available at Brown Sugar locations when they reopen and at the two suburban Cupid locations by July 1.
Steak-n-Egger reopens dining rooms
Business owners who have been chomping at the bit got good news this week when Gov. JB Pritzker said Restore Illinois would move into Phase 4 on Friday.
That means all kinds of businesses that have been shut or sharply curtailed since mid-March would be allowed to reopen as long as they follow certain guidelines
Phase 4 means gyms, theaters, museums and indoor dining can resume starting Friday.
That was good news for Terrence Carr, owner of the Steak-n-Egger restaurant chain who also is the new mayor of McCook.
“I never gave up,” he said. “You just have to stay strong.”
Carr said that business at his chain had been off as much as 75 percent when they were restricted to offering delivery and curbside pickups.
“My grandpa started the chain in 1955 and he said it had never been this bad,” Carr said.
“Business improved once we were allowed to put up tents and provide outdoor seating,” he said. “The tents helped tremendously.”
Now, he’s looking forward to business getting back to normal starting Friday.
“I’m bringing back the whole staff,” he said.
One thing Carr did to kickstart business was open an ice cream booth in the parking lot of the Steak-n-Egger on Archer Avenue in Summit.
Maja’s Ice Cream may not last long if the restaurant business picks up with the reopening of the dining rooms.
“We were trying to spice things up,” he said. “If it wasn’t for COVID-19, we probably wouldn’t have done it.”
Carr said plans for a new Steak-n-Egger in Justice at the Triangle development were put on hold when the pandemic struck, but the deal is still alive.
“We will start construction as soon as the pandemic wears off,” he said.
South Holland CDL facility closed
Out of an abundance of caution, the South Holland CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) Drivers Services Facility at 41 W. 162nd St. will be closed until July 7 because of an employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has been consulted. Employees who work at the facility are being quarantined for 14 days and the facility is scheduled to be cleaned and sanitized according to CDC guidelines and will reopen on July 7.
CDL drivers are encouraged to visit the nearest facilities which include Elk Grove Village, West Chicago, and Bradley.
Original Mr. Beef closes
The Original Mr. Beef restaurant at 12320 W. 143rd St. in Homer Glen, which had been open for carryout early during the pandemic, has closed its doors permanently.
If you see a new business in town or wonder what happened to an old favorite, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can track business openings and closings at http://bobbongonbusiness.com/