CHICAGO (CBS) – After 33 years of serving Chicago, “Breakfast Queen” Ina Pinkney is closing her famous West Loop restaurant at the end of the year, when she’ll head off to retirement.
“I’m 70 years old, and I think it’s about time,” she said. “Everything has it’s season, and we have done this so well, and I think it’s just my time to say thank you so much, Chicago, I have loved every day.”
Pinkney’s first restaurant was in Lincoln Park, and opened in 1980. She later moved to Streeterville in 1996, but dropped out of that venture after a couple years, then opened a new restaurant in the West Loop in 2001.
Ina’s Kitchen, located at 1235 W. Randolph St., will close on New Year’s Eve, after it serves up the last dishes of chicken and waffles, vegetable hash, scrapple, baked French toast, and homemade granola.
Pinkney will be leaving a gift behind for her customers: a cookbook with all her recipes.
“You know, I don’t have any family to leave my recipes to, and I have loved Chicago, and Chicago has become my family, so I leave my recipes to you,” she said.
She said the most difficult thing about retiring will be losing the everyday contact she has with her customers, especially the regulars.
“It’s really about the interaction,” Pinkney said.
She said she got a call from one customer who said her grandchildren would be hit hardest by the loss of Ina’s Kitchen, because she’s been taking them to the restaurant since they were born.
“Every week, they show up so that they can tell me what they did in school,” Pinkney said. “That’s what’s going to be the challenge for me, is losing touch with the people I have fed for so many years.”