#60: Dinkel’s in the Rain

September 14th, 2012

A soft, slow, sopping morning requires coffee. It requires coffee and an almond bear claw.

The almond bear claw requires a place that makes it. And a place to eat it where you can sit by the window and look out on the rain falling over Brown Line commuters, a smatter of brave joggers and the short-haired woman stepping into a car that still had dealer plates and a window sticker saying “$2999.”

The coffee requires another sip.

Dinkel’s on Lincoln has all these things. It has early-morning sleepy workers who still smile freshly despite the time and rain calling for naps all around. It has a seep of music overhead, that early style of semi-rock-n-roll you picture only sung by women in chiffon and men in plaid tuxedos. It has a cafĂ© to the side where you can look on the mix of new and old that makes Lincoln Avenue.

Here’s a bar advertising its Facebook page. Here’s an aging, careless neon sign half-flickering for a drug store you just know has been there since your parents were children. Here’s a Thai joint. Here’s a building with intricate, ornate surfacing from a time when people really cared about how things looked.

A young man in a tie stops outside the window to look at the display of wedding cakes. He hurries on to his work.

Dinkel’s is old. It started in 1922 and that’s mostly what you hear about it. You don’t hear about the soft give of the bear claw in your mouth or the smell of the morning kolackys. You don’t hear about the little chatter behind you of the grumpy middle-aged couple slowly won over by the warmth of coffee on a wet, cold September day.

You don’t hear about “Mr. Sandman” trickling overhead.

It’s an accomplishment to be this old. The Starbucks a few doors over won’t ever have that chance, coffee-god willing.

But the real accomplishment is the almond on the bear claw. It’s the warm cardboard holding the cup of Metropolis. The accomplishment is the soft music and the window and being an inviting, cozy place on a soft, slow, sopping morning.

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You are currently reading #60: Dinkel’s in the Rain by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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