Thoughts And Support For Cakegirls - Devastating Fire In

Decorating By KathysCC Updated 29 Apr 2010 , 5:28pm by felin

KathysCC Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 7:23pm
post #1 of 215

I thought we could start a thread that Brenda and Mary Maher could read one day when things calm down a bit for them. As many of you already know, their cake shop in Chicago burned down today.

Brenda and Mary, I just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers today. This is a rough day for you but you can rise above it. Your loyal customers and friends will understand your loss and stand behind you. I wish you the best! icon_smile.gif

214 replies
sdrper Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 7:37pm
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I'm so sorry this happened to them but who knows God may have bigger plans for them. I wish them all the best.

AnotherCreation Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 7:54pm
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My prayers are with them

Jackie Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:00pm
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The entire Cake Central team will be sending you gals our thoughts and support!

For those of you that have not read about the devastating fire, you can read more here:


Cakegirls owners and sisters Brenda (left) and Mary Maher console each other after an early morning fire destroyed their business. (Heather Charles/Tribune)

ImageBrenda Maher was about to drive to work at Cakegirls early this morning when her sister Mary called sobbing. The upscale Lake View bakery that the pair launched from scratch in 2003 was engulfed in flames.

"I just couldn't believe it," said Maher, who rushed to the store from her home in Portage Park. "When I saw it I felt like I was going to throw up. I just felt nauseous."

"We put a lot of work into this business," she had said hours earlier. "Now in a flash it doesn't exist. This is devastating. This is our livelihood. We built this from nothing."

The building at 2209 W. Belmont Ave., with Cakegirls on its ground level, was judged a total loss, with firefighters battling the blaze only to keep it from spreading.

By the time the Maher sisters arrived on the scene, they said water was pouring out of the charred structure, carrying blackened debris and cake frosting into the street.

A Chicago fire department spokesperson said the fire started on the residential second floor of the building shortly after 5:30 a.m. Fire officials have told the sisters the building is a total loss and will be condemned.

Julie Thomas, who owns a 24-hour dog care facility two doors down from the fire, said that she was awakened by the sound of sirens and helicopters. Running outside, she watched flames shoot through the nearby building's roof and into the lightening sky.

"It was a huge fire," said Thomas. "It was scary."

Fire officials said the fire was brought under control about 6:50 a.m. They said that the roof had collapsed and there was extensive damage to the whole building. The fire closed Belmont to traffic between Hoyne and Oakley avenues.

No injuries were reported, but one of the tenant's cats is believed to have died.

Throughout the morning Monday, the Maher sisters camped out at a neighboring Starbucks, fielding calls from worried friends and family and wondering how they were going to start to piece their business back together.

"We worked so hard to make our business grow. This is our blood and sweat," said Mary Maher, tears filling her eyes. "It's like our baby -- every inch of it we made. To see it today is so hard."

The Maher sisters grew up in Detroit sharing a room and an Easy-Bake oven. After they moved to Chicago they ran a cake shop out of their apartment until they could pull together enough money to rent a shop.

The spot they rent on Belmont wasn't ideal, they said. But they made it their own, redoing the floors, lugging in the necessary baking and decorating equipment, and fashioning the outside metal sign.

"We worked to the bone," said Brenda Maher.

And it paid off. Cakegirls has received national attention. It embarks Wednesday on its second season as one of four bakeries on the WEtv network's "Amazing Wedding Cakes" series. Fortunately, that film is already in the can. And Mary Maher is a former winner of the Food Networks' "Last Cake Standing" challenge, taking home a $50,000 prize.

Cakegirls' cakes are pricey. According to the company's Web site, wedding cakes start at $600 and specialty cakes at $900. Customers have included Bono, Queen Latifah, Ashlee Simpson and Jim Carrey, among other notables.

In the coming weeks and months they said they had multiple wedding and Easter orders and an assignment to sculpt a T-Rex cake for the Field Museum.

Now, they worry how any of that will get done. In the hours after the fire, offers of help poured in from around Chicago, but the sisters said they have not made any decisions. They did say that they had insurance.

The bakery has been open for seven years and has six employees on staff, Brenda Maher said. "More than anything, it breaks my heart that for now, they will be unemployed," she said.

With the wedding season fast approaching, the bakery has up to 500 outstanding orders, she said. Firefighters this morning were keeping the sisters out of the building, so they were unable to retrieve any computer records -- or know if there are any records left to retrieve.

"Please apologize on our behalf to our customers," Brenda Maher pleaded shortly after the fire. "We are going to do our best to reach everyone."

Later this morning, staring toward the charred remains of the business, Brenda Maher said the last several hours have been surreal.

After teaching two cake decorating classes Saturday, the last day the shop was open, Maher said she closed up as usual, finishing the remaining paperwork and wiping the counters clean.

"I just closed the doors and turned off the lights," she said.

-- Cynthia Dizikes and Deanese Williams-Harris

RetiredNavyChief Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:01pm
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Brenda and Mary, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Your clients will understand. You still have your health and your family and your employees. Thank God no one was hurt. You can rebuild and be bigger and better. Your show was my inspiration to get into cake decorating. I am a true fan and will have you in my prayers.

Loucinda Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:31pm
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I posted on an earlier thread to all are in our prayers, and we know that no matter what, you will rebuild and be back - we are so sorry that you are having to through this, but please know there are so many who look up to you and are here for you.
{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} from Ohio

Thank you Jackie for the article.

floral1210 Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:35pm
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The cake world appreciates your loss, and prays for you.

catlharper Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:38pm
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Wow...this is horrible! My heart goes out to them. I do hope they can find a temporary home quickly for their bakery and that the insurance pays off quickly and they can start to rebuild all of the inventory they had to have lost. What a devastating way to greet the day.

NJCakeDiva Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:39pm
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My prayers go out to Mary and Brenda as well as the entire staff of CakeGirls in Chicago. I would also like to let the tenant/tenants that lost everything know that she/they are not forgotten and in my prayers as well. May you all find comfort in knowing that God will provide for you all during your time of need.

The Grisham Family

AKS Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:41pm
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Oh man-I am so sorry for you guys. You'll rise up. Thank God no one was hurt! We're thinking about you!

TheCakerator Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:41pm
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how awful! I pray they can get back up and running in no time!

Jeep_girl816 Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:45pm
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Love and prayers to the Maher families and their employees. This is a horrible set back for their business and careers. They are strong and extremely talented women and I'm sure they will rise from this even better than before. God bless.

twincakesanabelle Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:48pm
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So sorry this happen to you. My prayers are with you. I am so glad no one got hurt.

linstead Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:51pm
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What can we say? So terribly sorry for you.........

JGMB Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 8:52pm
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Mary and Brenda,

I was lucky enough to take your fondant purse class at that shop on Belmont on December 12th. You are both such wonderful, caring, professional women -- my heart goes out to you at this time and my prayers are with you.

I know that you will rise above this and will come back bigger and better than ever. After all, you are THE two and only Cakegirls!!!!

simplehappy Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:07pm
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Prayers out to you that you will end up with something bigger and better. Thank God that no one was hurt! Please know that you have so many people behind you.

dahir Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:08pm
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Mary and Brenda,

I'm just so sorry for your loss. I have followed and admired your work for a long time now. I know your hearts and your talents will carry you through this and I pray that you will find a new place to start back up quickly.


mgdqueen Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:08pm
post #18 of 215

My heart is broken for you. I cried as I read this, thinking about how hard you've worked. This too shall pass. You are insured and you will get back on your feet better than ever. Out of devastation comes triumph. Until then I'm thinking of you!

dchockeyguy Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:24pm
post #19 of 215

Mary and Brenda, I so sorry to hear this about your shop. I met you this past year on Sunday at the ICES show through Norm Davis, and you were both the nicest people! It was a great pleasure to talk to you. I hope you are able to get back on your feet quickly.

kandyc10 Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:25pm
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Your both Tough, Strong women. I don't know what your next move will be, but I do look forward to the future and what the two of you will bring to it. My thoughts and prayers are with you all!

Marianna46 Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:25pm
post #21 of 215

Brenda and Mary, I turned on the morning news and this was the first thing I saw. I cried too, out of the sense of frustration and loss I know you must be feeling. My heart goes out to you, your employees and your and their families. Please know you are in the minds and prayers of a world of well-wishers, and I can't help but feel that as this door closes, another one is opening to even more success and happiness (although I can see where you might want to smack everyone who says this to you just now!). I want to say that, if I can contribute in any way at all to your recovery (as far-fetched as that may seem right now), I'm here for you, as I'm sure all of us on CC are.

jillmakescakes Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:26pm
post #22 of 215

I can only imagine the pain and sorrow you are feeling. Hopefully it will soon be replaced by the love that your customers and community have for you and your business.

aundrea Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:27pm
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the more i read about this-the more heartbreaking it is.
my thoughts and prayers have been with you all day. thankfully noone was hurt.
(((((((((((((((((cake girls)))))))))))))))))))

floridagal Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:41pm
post #24 of 215

Mary and Brenda,

I wish there were words that could take away the pain. I know things seem overwhelming for you and all of those touched by this tragedy. But I truly believe that you will all emerge stronger from this. You have an opportunity to see the good in people, to see how much you mean to others.

Sometimes God leads us down a path that seems too difficult, but if we could see what we might have faced we would be so thankful. I'm not trying to downplay what you're going through now, or tell you to be thankful for this. Only when we're on the other side of something can we look back and say 'wow, I really did survive.'

I'm praying for ALL of you.

mommicakes Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:42pm
post #25 of 215

My thoughts are with you Mary & Brenda and your entire Cakegirls family! You have the love and prayers of many on your side. This will make you all much stronger and a better business once you regroup. Keep the faith and all will be well. God bless.

Teenz Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:47pm
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Thoughts with you both!

Kavrena Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:53pm
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Cakegirls family,
I am very sorry to hear of your hardship. I along with everyone else wish you the best and will continue to send my thoughts and prayers.

Ivy383 Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:53pm
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I'm so sorry this happened. icon_sad.gif

foxymomma521 Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 9:59pm
post #29 of 215

I am incredibly sorry for your loss. I will pray for a quick recovery from your loss!

cakesbycathy Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 10:11pm
post #30 of 215

Those pictures break my heart. Hugs to both of them and wishes for a speedy recovery of their business.

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