Stephanie Hart stood in line at the South Shore Starbucks Monday morning, placing an order for a grande pistachio soy latte.
“I’d like it at 180 degrees. And if you would put the sweet, cold foam on top, I would be so-o-o happy,” Hart said.
Hart likes her coffee like her cakes: just so and on the decadent side.
No one could begrudge her that Monday after a car plowed into her store, Brown Sugar Bakery in the Park Manor neighborhood a day earlier.
The hit-and-run driver smashed through her front window in the early-morning hours Sunday, crashing into a walk-in freezer — a recent and expensive investment she said she’d “sweated” over for five months.
After getting her coffee, Hart headed to her store, home to her towering beauties — cakes swamped in glistening caramel or encrusted in chocolate frosting like swirling stucco.
“We want them to look like real food, not like hats,” Hart said of her cakes. “You know how people make cakes to look like a shoe? I don’t want to eat a shoe.”
The bakery, celebrating its 20th year of business, is at 328 E. 75th St.
Hart, who favors leopard print clothing and vintage glasses, said she has insurance for her freezer. She was told later Monday that she’ll need a new one, at a cost of about $20,000. She said she’s grateful no one was in the store at the time. A neighboring store has surveillance video, but Hart said a recently installed sign at a nearby barber shop is blocking any useful view of the bakery.
The bakery opened on time Sunday, thanks, largely, to lots of volunteers and a quick police response, Hart said. The store is closed Mondays.
The Chicago Police Department said the incident is under investigation.
“It was so nice. The truth of the matter, yesterday, we had a bad accident and everything else went so smoothly. The police came — no waiting, they just showed up,” Hart said. Ditto for the cleanup crews, she said.
“Hopefully, everything gets fixed today!” she said. “If it doesn’t all get done today, by the end of the week, we’ll be back to normal I’m sure.”