Saying Farewell Is Bittersweet
April 30, 2022, will be a most bittersweet day in Chicago. Dinkel’s, one of the most beloved bakeries in Chicago and a must-visit landmark on the city’s North Side, will turn off its ovens, auction off the kitchen equipment, close its doors, and say goodbye forever.
To be sure, it will not be a piece of cake for us to bid farewell to this kind and caring friend to our Residents, this devoted and generous benefactor of the Little Sisters.
For decades, this old-world bakery has been providing St. Mary’s Home countless doughnuts, cookies, pastries, pies, cakes—innumerable irresistible, delectable, and decadent confections—for holidays, celebrations, and special occasions, even many not-so-special occasions.
But bid farewell we must; all good things come to an end.
So, on April 21, on a gloriously bright spring afternoon, Residents, Sisters, and staff loaded up the van and departed from St. Mary’s Home, wending their way through the neighborhood streets until eventually heading north up Lincoln Avenue to Dinkel’s, near the intersection of Roscoe, Paulina, and Lincoln.
After circling around the block a number of times to look for parking—it’s Chicago, after all—our merry band finally found a spot a couple of doors down from the bakery.
Once out of the van, it was something of a giddy parade down Lincoln Avenue. Our Residents were excited to “get out of the house” and to enjoy the lovely spring day, and, moreover, to see Mr. Norman Dinkel, Jr., and to thank him personally for the many years of sweet generosity.
Our Residents came bearing little tokens of appreciation: a bouquet of flowers, a handmade sign filled with signatures of our grateful Residents, and a colorful mylar balloon.
The excitement must have been too much for the balloon, however, for it escaped its tight hold and drifted up and away before it could be presented!
The story of Dinkel’s began in 1922. That year, Bavarian immigrant Joseph Dinkel, a master baker from a long line of master bakers, founded with his wife Antonie what would become one of the most iconic bakeries in Chicago. In the beginning, he handled the baking, and she handled the selling.
In time, their son Norman began working in the bakery, and by the 1970s, his son, Norman Jr., took over. Norm later turned over the day-to-day management of the bakery to his son-in-law Luke Karl.
But now at 79 years of age, the grandson of the founders felt it was time to hang up his apron. Spry, healthy, and still full of life, Norm decided now was the time to enjoy other activities and maybe just loaf around for a while.
Our Residents, Sisters, and staff were delighted and grateful to share a few minutes with Norm, to thank him, and to wish him well in the next chapter of his life.
With graciousness, charm, and a warm smile, he greeted Residents, Sisters, and staff, chatting at length and noting the long history the bakery shared with the Little Sisters.
He was visibly touched by our simple gesture of appreciation.
We cannot thank the Dinkel family enough for the many, many scrumptious treats and, moreover, the untold delicious memories.
As our group assembled to leave, Norm, ever generous, made sure our Residents left with boxes of some goodies to enjoy later.
While making their way back to the van, our happy band decided to extend their excursion and to enjoy the sunny afternoon for a bit longer. And what could be better than—you guessed it—ice cream!