The beloved Lake View bakery is set to close on Saturday after 100 years in business


A sweet smell reminiscent of your childhood wafted through the bakery, its worn wooden floors covered in a dusting of flour.

Norm Dinkel told a worker to turn on the huge ‘moving tray’ oven so the pastries inside wouldn’t burn. It was built in 1944, the same year Dinkel was born.

Dinkel didn’t bark at his employee. It’s a slow, whispering voice – the same one he uses with customers, who have been coming to Dinkel’s Bakery and Café in Lake View for 100 years.

Since Dinkel announced about a month ago that the bakery would close on April 30, hordes of people have lined up under the rusty neon orange sign along the seams of the store.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Dinkel, 78. “I didn’t know we were going to have something like this.”

They don’t come for pastries with exotic ingredients and designs that you might find in an art gallery.

Dinkel’s Bakery and Café in Lake View will close on Saturday.

Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Lots of people came to pick up the donuts on Friday morning.

“It brings back childhood memories, and nothing beats their chocolate donuts – no place in town,” said Connie Mixon, a political science professor whose parents bought their wedding cake at Dinkel’s in the 1950s. “I’ve tasted just about every chocolate donut in town. … Neither too heavy nor too light.

It’s “fudge” icing, Quetina Kaiser, 40, chimed in line behind Mixon. Kaiser worked at Dinkel for four years, resigning in 2013 only because she was leaving the state.

“When I moved, [the Dinkel family] were so sad to see me go that they actually took me out to dinner,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser was back Friday to say goodbye to old friends, she said.

She was among dozens of people crowded inside the store.

“Miss, how can I help you?” And you, sir, with the excellent beard and hat? said Phil O’Reilly, addressing a young couple waiting patiently in line.

Kevin Walsh, 52, of Edgebrook, received a text from his daughter with special needs at 5.40am Friday begging him to come get her a chocolate donut.

“She’s scared there’s no donuts left,” said Walsh, who has been coming to Dinkel for 30 years. “I would wait all day if necessary. If she wants the last donut, I’ll provide it.

It’s hard to say what will be left of it on Saturday.

Dinkel – dressed in a white apron and remarkably neat for a man surrounded by so much sweet and buttery stuff – said he was repeatedly asked what he plans to do after retirement.

He does not know.

Maybe he’ll try to get an idea of ​​the millions of cakes Dinkel’s has served over the years.

“We have four and five generation families – wedding cakes, birthday cakes, baptism cakes, Holy Communion cakes, funeral cakes,” he said. “Bakeries are wonderful because they bring people together, and that’s good business, especially in today’s world.”

Customers line up Friday at Dinkel's Bakery and Cafe in Lake View - a day before the beloved bakery's final closure.

On Friday, customers crammed into Dinkel’s bakery and cafe. The shop closes for a good Saturday.


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