South Side bakery expands during COVID-19, purchases 84-year-old chocolate company

CHICAGO -- Brown Sugar Bakery is purchasing the 84-year-old chocolate company Cupid Candies, marking a rare business expansion for small businesses during COVID-19.

"This is just a great opportunity for two Chicago companies to come together and maintain what we have, but grow in directions that better serve our city," said Brown Sugar Bakery owner and founder Stephanie Hart.

Hart will keep her bakery storefront open on 75th street, where it has been since its founding 16 years ago. But the bakery kitchen will move into the Cupid Candies factory in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood on the Southwest Side.

The purchase has been in the works for well over a year, but was finalized when Hart received a $500,000 small business grant from Illinois's Office of Minority Economic Empowerment.

Brown Sugar Bakery is a touchstone among black businesses around the city, and it's got a reputation for serving some of the best cakes and cupcakes in the city.

Head baker Timothy Wooden said baking gives him "discipline."

"This is an art right here," said Wooden, while looking over his batter for a Juneteenth-themed cake. "You're creating art when you bake."

Hart is excited for the new job opportunities that she can provide through the Cupid Candies factory.

"Cupid Candies is a company that makes products that can be shipped nationwide by people from my community," Hart said. "This just feels extremely necessary."