Terrible way to start to the week.
Early-morning fires swept through the buildings that house the award-winning Cakegirls bakery (2207 W. Belmont) and foodie favorite Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown Square (2172 S. Archer). In the Cakegirls case, the building was completely gutted (details on the damage at Lao Sze Chuan are sketchier.)
"We built this from nothing," Brenda Maher told the Tribune. She and sister Mary Maher are the faces behind the Cakegirls, considered one of the city's finest wedding cake specialists.
The Mahers have won four Food Network challenges with their fondant-covered, gravity-defying cakes, and star in WeTV's "Amazing Wedding Cakes." They just finished filming the third season in the fall.
Their wedding cakes start around $900 and can cost as much as $2,500.
"I think we come from that school of 'Never say no.' We work long hours because of it," Brendha Maher told me earlier this year for our cover story on custom wedding cakes, explaining their philosophy when a bride comes to them with a specific vision for her cake.
Lao Sze Chuan, which chef and owner Tony Hu opened in 1998, has spawned a mini-empire of eateries, including an outpost in Connecticut.