After 100 years on the North Side, the Dinkel family announced Tuesday it has made the difficult decision to close its beloved bakery.
Dinkel’s Bakery, 3329 N Lincoln Ave., founded in 1922, has been in the family for three generations. There were rumors of it closing in recent years, but current President Norm Dinkel decided the time has finally come, setting April 30 as the last day of operation.
“No one lives forever,” Dinkel said. “It’s a bittersweet time, but it is what it is.”
Dinkel, 79, says he has helped the business longer than any of his relatives — “My grandfather, my father — they would say, ‘Hey pal, it's time to move on.”
Dinkel was overwhelmed by the immediate outpouring of support following news of the closure. “A lot of sad people today in Chicago,” Dinkel said as he looked out around the store.
“I’ll miss my staff; I’ll miss my products,” Dinkel said. “You can travel to about any bakery in the country — I still think we’re one of the top dogs.”
Mary Kaufman was in shock when she saw the sign in front of the store announcing the impending closure. She stops by the bakery at least three times a week.
Kaufman and her family have lived in the neighborhood for decades. Her grandparents even went to school with Joseph Dinkel at nearby St. Andrew’s, she said.
Every one of her birthday cakes, since age 1, has been a Dinkel’s cake.
“You just can’t get this stuff anywhere else,” Kaufman said.
As the bakery neared closing time Tuesday, crowds continued to file into the store. Little kids jumped with excitement as they walked in.
Erin Chen brought in her two sons, 4 and 5, for sugar cookies after a successful parent-teacher conference.
“I told them Dinkel’s was going to close, and they were really upset — they wanted to know why,” Chen said. “And I told them 100 years is a long time.”
Philip O’Reilly has worked at Dinkel’s for eight of those years, coming to the shop right after high school.
O’Reilly was devastated to learn of the closing but happy Dinkel’s will be able to go out on its own terms.
“It’s a somber note, but we're going out with a bang instead of a whimper,” O’Reilly said. “Everyone will come in here every day until we close. … It’s a last chance to make people smile.”