West Lakeview will be a little less sweet on April 30, when the neighborhood will say goodbye to Dinkel's Bakery after a century of service.
Owner Norm Dinkel announced the bakery's closure at the end of the month on April 5, eliciting a collective, phantom cry of "Nooooooo!" across the North Side. In the years since Joseph and Antonie Dinkel opened their family bakery in 1922, Dinkel's has become a beloved institution, from early commuters becoming office heroes by surprising colleagues with boxes of delicious doughnuts to lines snaking out the door for boxes of paczki, a Chicago Fat Tuesday favorite. West Lakeview and Roscoe Village neighbors have celebrated holidays, triumphs and tragedies with Dinkel's sweets, from lamb cakes and Thanksgiving pies to wedding and baby shower cakes to baked goods for grieving families for funerals.
"There's a time and there's a place for everything, and Dinkel's had a place," Dinkel says. "I had no idea we were this important to so many people. When we announced the closing, there were people coming in with tears in their eyes, sharing their memories, the whole works. It's been an honor, and it's been a bittersweet experience for me. I did not know my little bakery on Lincoln Avenue was so important for so many lives."
Dinkel, 78, says now was the right time to hang up the proverbial apron, so after a difficult few years—and without another generation of Dinkels to take the reins—he made the decision to close. "It's time for me, while I have my health, and that can change in a moment for all of us," Dinkel says.
The grandson of founders Joseph and Antonie Dinkel, Norm Dinkel says he has worked to maintain a sense of personal service and quality at Dinkel's, employing the ethos of "if you wouldn't buy it, you don't sell it" with his team. He continues, even now, to make himself available for customers.
"Whether they've got a complaint, a compliment or a suggestion, my name's on the door," he says.
Dinkel's will remain open through April 30, Tuesdays through Saturdays 7am–5pm and Sundays 8am–4pm (with the exception of Easter Sunday), so you still have time to stop in to thank the team and enjoy one last sweet, beautiful box of doughnuts. For those looking to bring a bit of Dinkel's to your Easter celebrations, call the bakery at 773-281-7300 or visit the online store to order. Lamb and Egg cakes will be available for pickup April 9–16.
But whatever you order, be sure to thank the team for a century of sweet memories.
"A real bakery is the heart of a community," Dinkel says. "It makes families get together. I'm honored that our bakery business was able to help families keep their traditions and memories alive for over 100 years. And now I can understand why people are coming in, some sad, some happy, some happy and sad."