CHICAGO — Dinkel’s Bakery, one of the most iconic bakeries in Chicago, is closing April 30 after more than 100 years on the North Side.
The bakery, at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave. on the border of Lakeview and Roscoe Village, opened in 1922 under Joseph and Antonie Dinkel. It’s been run by four generations of the family, and questions about it being sold have come up before — but a closing sign was posted in the window Tuesday.
“To our customers and neighbors. Thank you …… 101 years serving you,” the sign read. “But it is time. Dinkel’s will close Saturday, April 30th.”
The bakery has become a mainstay in Chicago, with lines going out on the doors on weekends — when people snapped up treats like pastries and doughnuts — and during foodie holidays like Fat Tuesday.
Dinkel’s was also a longtime member of the Bakers Dozen, a secret society of leaders from the oldest family-owned bakeries in and around Chicago.
Word of the closure spread quickly on social media, where Chicagoans lamented the loss. Customers poured into the shop Tuesday afternoon to stock up on their favorites.
“After Swedish Bakery closed Dinkel’s picked up the slack for me…now Dinkel’s is going,” one person wrote on Twitter. “May have to go protect Lutz’s now.”
Norman Dinkel, 79, and the longtime owner, said it was closing so he could retire.
“It’s never a good time to close, so I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions,” Dinkel said. “It’s a very traumatic day for me personally, for my stay and my customers. No one wants to see this, but it’s time.”
The bakery had been in talks with a few business partners interested in buying the bakery, but deals to sell the business fell through because “they didn’t want to actually work in the business,” Dinkel said.
“They want to buy a business and make money, but this is a business where you’ve got to work every day,” Dinkel said.
Having served the community for more than a century, Dinkel’s Bakery became known for its handmade, quality pastries, Dinkel said.
The business has served generations of families over the years, he added.
“What makes Dinkel’s so special is we offer stability in a crazy world and moment in time in which you can get something for your family or sit down and get a cup of coffee,” Dinkel said. “I’m going to miss that because it was a nice thing to offer, especially in the last few years when this world was really crazy.”
The future of the iconic Dinkel’s sign, which hangs vertically on the side of the building, is uncertain, Dinkel said.
“I’ve still got to figure out what’s going to happen to it,” Dinkel said. “I’m told there might be some collectors interested, but I don’t know yet.”
Michael Elkow lives in the Gold Coast but said he travels to Dinkel’s regularly to stock up on pastries.
“It’s very sad they’re closing because they’re a very fine bakery and I’m sure all customers have their special orders,” Elkow said.
Elkow didn’t know Dinkel’s was closing until he stopped by the store Tuesday to pick up cheese and cherry strudels, he said. His other favorite is their layer cakes.
“So now I’m very sad,” Elkow said. “It’s one of the oldest and greatest bakeries in Chicago, period, let alone in the neighborhood.”
Kennedy Schuh, a Lakeview neighbor, said she’s been coming to the bakery for years.
“I used to come here a lot last year because my primary care doctor is nearby so I’d always stop by after for a treat,” Schuh said. “I love Dinkel’s because the pastries are really good and it’s a welcoming atmosphere, different from a super corporate environment.”
Schuh said she will probably come back to stock up on Dinkel’s pastries before the shop closes.
“It’s really upsetting because I’m about to move even closer to here and was really excited to come here more often,” Schuh said.
Destiny Staar said news of the bakery’s closure was “devastating.”
“We live in Roscoe Village, so we’ve been coming here for like four years consistently, at least once a week,” Staar said.
Staar and two of her children, Teddy and Hannah, visited the store Thursday to pick up treats for her husband’s birthday.
Her children peered at the bakery cases as they chose which cookies they wanted to order and ran across the bakery to pick out candles for his cake.
“As you can see, they’re very comfortable here because we visit all the time,” Staar said. “This is the best place for them.”
Staar grew to live the bakery because of its “happy atmosphere” and “quality goods.”
“When we walked in and they told us they’re closing, we couldn’t believe it,” Staar said. “It’s absolutely devastating because it’s always like this — full of people and good, local vibes.”
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