DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Main Street in downtown Downers Grove is the kind of place where everybody knows the mailman, the bookseller and the baker.
Following the news that Chuck Kalousek, longtime owner of the “Busy Bee Bakery,” is hospitalized with COVID-19 and may need a lung transplant, the community is rallying around one of their own.
“I feel so badly for Chuck that he’s so ill and of course, the whole community wishes him well,” said longtime Busy Bee Bakery customer Holly Lee.
The bakery closed when Kalousek was hospitalized with COVID-19 22 days ago. Kalousek remains on life support, struggling to breathe.
“He is stable at this point,” said Katie Kalousek, Chuck’s wife. “We’re waiting to see if the transfer is going through.”
For 36 years, Chuck Kalousek has been a fixture on Main Street. Arriving at the bakery at midnight to be ready for a 7 a.m. opening – with his signature white apron – he could be seen baking and boxing treats for years.
Lauren Evans and her twin daughters Kate and Ella told WGN that they miss the bakery and the colored butter cookies. Others associate the bakery with all of life’s big moments.
“That is always where we got our kids birthday cakes from,” said Jennifer Robinson.
While the 55-year-old baker is facing a big moment of his own, the community came together to help.
“It’s been part of the community for so long, whether it be the cakes or the cookies or just the fresh bakery goods on Saturday that people love,” Lee said.
Customers, community, family and friends organized a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $50,000.
“I’m hoping the whole family pulls through,” Evans said. “I’m hoping for the very best.”
Katie Kalousek says the last thing her husband told her before going on life support was that they would re-open the bakery as soon as they can.
“We are just so overwhelmed and filled with so much gratitude for all the outpouring of prayers and concerns,” she said. “We’re honored to serve Downers Grove because it’s just such a lovely family-based community.”