LAKEVIEW — The neon Dinkel’s sign that hung outside the century-old bakery, which closed for good last month, is being auctioned off.
The vertical neon sign was listed on AuctionZip with a starting bid of $5,000, according to its posting. Currently with no bids, the auction is set to close at noon June 3.
Dinkel’s Bakery, 3329 N. Lincoln Ave., closed April 30 after more than 100 years in business in Lakeview. Four generations of the Dinkel family have run the famous bakery since it opened in 1922 under Joseph and Antonie Dinkel.
Joseph and Antonie Dinkel bought the old Hopfner’s Bakery, which later reopened after the Depression, and turned it into Dinkel’s. They moved storefronts in 1926, landing at its current building where Dutch Boy Paints were invented.
Antonie Dinkel worked the front while Joseph Dinkel baked, and the two invented a counter-height case called the Chicago Showcase, which meant Antonie Dinkel didn’t need to bend down whenever someone ordered something, and the original unbaked frozen cheesecake.
Norman Dinkel Jr., who previously worked as a lawyer, took over the bakery 50 years ago after his father got shot in a holdup at the shop and was considering quitting and selling the family business.
The bakery became 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.
Long-time owner Norman Dinkel Jr., 79, said the store was closing so he could retire when he announced the closure April 5.
“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 staff and my customers. No one wants to see this, but it’s time.”
Within hours of announcing the closure, fans of the bakery rushed to stock up on goods before its closure. Dinkel’s sold more than 5,000 donuts the day after announcing its closure, Dinkel said.
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.”
When Dinkel’s opened in 1922, the city had about 7,000 bakeries because not many people had kitchens or space for making and storing baked goods, Dinkel said during an interview for “Historic Chicago Bakeries.”
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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