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Ina’s to close at year’s end as Pinkney retires

Ina Pinkney

Ina Pinkney

On the eve of the publication of her first cookbook, Breakfast Queen Ina Pinkney has announced that she’ll be hanging up her pancake turner and sleeping in late after the end of this year. Her namesake West Loop restaurant, Ina’s, famed for its morning fare, will remain open till Dec. 31.

“Life is like baking a cake. It’s raw for a long time. It’s perfectly baked for a short time, and it’s overbaked forever,” the 70-year-old Pinkney said in a press release. “I feel like we’re closing at the right time, before we’re ‘overbaked.’ ”

She and her management team are working to help her staff, many of whom have been with her for decades, find new jobs.

Pinkney’s baked goods and breakfast fare have been Chicago staples since she opened Dessert Kitchen in 1980, baking for private customers, restaurants and caterers.

In 1991, Pinkney opened her first restaurant, Ina’s Kitchen in Lincoln Park. The current restaurant opened in 2001.

“When I came to Chicago in 1977, I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t sure what to do with my life,” she said. “Who knew that baking my first cake at 37 and starting a surprise birthday cake delivery service would lead to this wonderful life?”

Along with her culinary endeavors, Pinkney dipped her finger into local politics, running as a write-in candidate for mayor of Chicago in 2007 and again for “short-order” senator in 2010. In 2005, she helped organize restaurant owners to support a smoking ban in Chicago, and in 2009, she co-founded the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-Op with fellow restaurateur Dan Rosenthal.

Pinkney’s book is due out late next month, but its title has not yet been released.