More than 5,000 Dinkel’s donuts go missing on Wednesday morning after an iconic bakery was announced to be closed
CHICAGO — Norman Dinkel couldn’t hang up the phone Wednesday.
After announcing the closure of 101-year-old Dinkel’s Bakery on Tuesday, Dinkel was overwhelmed with fans around the world trying to place their last orders. Those who could make it to the bakery lined up to buy donuts, cakes and other pastries.
One woman even said she walked three miles to buy chocolate chip cookies.
Dinkel’s may close on April 30, but its pastries will live much longer as customers said they plan to stock their freezers to make the memories last. And some hope surfaced Wednesday that other bakeries are keeping the name alive.
Dinkel said his store had “fried about 5,000 donuts this morning” and served “a couple thousand customers” since he announced the closure. Block Club Chicago was the first to report the impending closure.
The bakery at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave. on the border of Lakeview and Roscoe Village, opened in 1922 under Joseph and Antonie Dinkel. It has been run by four generations of the family, and questions about its sale have already been raised – but a closing sign was posted in the window on Tuesday.
“To our customers and neighbors. Thank you……101 years of serving you,” the sign read. “But it is time. Dinkel’s will close on Saturday 30 April.
Dinkel’s Wednesday morning queues snaked through the store’s three halls with wait times of more than 45 minutes. Dinkel said the response to the store closing has been “chaotic. chaotic.”
“We’re busier than heck. I can’t hang up the phone. Everyone is working as fast as they can,” Dinkel said. “I’m honored and I’m sad.”
Sheets of chocolate donuts are flying off the shelves, Dinkel said, adding, “I guess I found out they’re world famous.” People have been inquiring about buying the iconic vertical bakery sign, but Dinkel said, “I haven’t had time to pay attention to it yet.”
There are a few half-baked ideas for how baked goods can last.
“There were other bakeries that said they might want to keep the name,” Dinkel said. “But nothing specific yet.”
Taking a valuable break from the donut line on Wednesday, employee Shannon Brody said longtime customers are “buying everything they can” – cutting boards, shopping bags and baked goods orders over $500 .
On Tuesday, a customer told Brody she was getting a cake to “freeze, frost and ship to Arizona.”
“People are coming in and ordering cakes for next December,” Brody said. “They ask for everything. So they can pack their freezers with stuff from Dinkel.
Joe Raitano grabbed five boxes of cookies and said he had been coming to Dinkel since 1957.
“These cookies are my daughter-in-law’s favorite, and she’s pregnant. So hopefully they freeze well,” Raitano said. “This place has always been pretty much the same. Except there weren’t that many people in line.
Mike Goergen had his Dinkel’s shopping list scribbled on legal pad paper: lemon-stuffed rolls, apple crumble and pecans. He was sent on a mission by his brother, who has been stopping at Dinkel for over 40 years on his way as a CTA worker.
“He told me it was the best of the best,” Goergen said. “Even though they’re probably all out of good stuff by now. It’s nowhere near the front of the pack.”
Longtime customers like Judy Corbeille had no problem waiting peacefully and patiently. She drove three miles from Irving Park for chocolate chip cookies.
“It’s always a treat to receive pastries at Dinkel,” said Corbeille. “There are a lot of new patisseries in town, and I want them to succeed, but it’s sad to see institutions that have been around for so long closing down. I’m glad people are coming now to say goodbye.
Among the donut lovers who ate their respects were members of the Daley family. Mike Daley, son of former Mayor Richard J. Daley and brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, said his family calls him “The Donut Man of Chicago.”
Mike Daley said it was a tradition for him to collect donuts for the whole family. He gave boxes of donuts as Christmas presents and “became more analytical about testing and finding donut places in Chicago.”
He recently held a blind donut taste test with all the Daley kids. Dinkel’s chocolate donut ranked number one.
“This family loves going to Dinkel’s,” Daley said. “So we had to go in and wait in line.”
Mike Daley’s daughter, Nancy Daley, said it was always a good day when someone walked in with a box of pink and brown donuts.
“This box is just as precious as a Tiffany blue,” said Nancy Daley. “Chicago is known for its great bakeries, and this one is one of the most special. We hate to lose it.
Dinkel said he does not plan to take any time off between now and closing. The phone rang again.
“I have to go back to work,” Dinkel said. “Do you want me to get fired?”
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