CHICAGO — For 99 years and counting, Dinkel’s Bakery in Lakeview has been serving up sweet treats for the holidays. Easter has always been one of the biggest.
Every morning at 3329 North Lincoln Avenue in Lakeview, a light goes on.
“It’s kind of heartwarming,” general manager Luke Karl said.
For generations, the bakery has served as a home for sweet snacks and as a neighborhood respite from the real world.
“In times of difficulty, we’re a simple indulgence, a reasonable indulgence people can afford even if they’re falling on hard times,” Karl said.
Dinkel’s has anchored this block for nearly a century, a layered story of a family business surviving World War, financial turmoil, social upheaval and a public health crisis.
It’s the story of a tradition kept alive every morning by the bakers who arrive at around 3 a.m., greeted by a red glow of neon and the sound of swing music, hinting at the joyous work going on in the back.
Where it’s time to make the doughnuts, they’re rolling in cinnamon sugar like a child in a sandbox, or dipping in decadent, rich frosting.
Dinkel’s makes 144,000 doughnuts every year, along with cupcakes, cookies and confections all made from scratch.
“Joseph K. Dinkel had worked for other bakers in Germany and came over to Chicago and started his own,” Karl said.
The third generation of Dinkels still owns the business, using the same recipes and equipment, including a mammoth-sized mixer and an 80-year-old scale meant for measuring a bit more than a spoonful of sugar.
“We still use it every day,” Karl said.
For this weekend, Dinkel’s expects double the normal business, thanks to the wide tradition of Easter being a sugar-filled holiday.
“Easter is a cake holiday. It’s a dessert holiday, so we do lamb cakes, egg cakes. Carrot cake is a big thing for us,” Karl said.
As a lifelong customer, Jesse Granato comes this weekend for the hot cross buns and visits all year for the nostalgia.
“It’s a traditional bakery. There was plenty of them in these communities, up on the North Side and they’re fading away. It’s nice to have a traditional bakery like this left,” Granato said.
Amid reports that Dinkel’s was exploring a sale of its Lakeview property, owners said if the building is sold, the business will remain in the area.