Chicago's 'Breakfast Queen' Ina Pinkney serves last meal at Ina's

Ina Pinkney seated her last customer and served her last meal at her namesake Chicago restaurant, Ina's, on Dec. 31.
December 31, 2013 3:27:02 PM PST
For countless Chicagoans, her first name is synonymous with good food and warm hospitality. But Ina's restaurant is no more. Ina Pinkney served her final meal Tuesday before beginning semi-retirement.

"I can't imagine doing this without you here today," said Pinkney.

In a business known for flash-in-the-pan trends and pseudo-celebrity chefs, Ina Pinkney is in a league all her own. After all, how many restaurateurs illicit tears on their final day?

"It's not the same, I'm used to coming, talking to you," said an Ina's customer.

"I'll just see you in a different place, I promise," said Pinkney.

For 23 years, Ina has presided over her namesake restaurant, now in its third location. Before then, she was a baker. Her recipe is simple.

"Hospitality is everything. I have a lot of respect for new and innovative. I have more respect for tradition and consistency," said Pinkney.

This is a place where everyone from the owner to the busboy greets you, thanks you and serves you with a smile. Kids have learned table manners here. Couples, like Linda and Pierre Poinsett, started their relationship here.

"When you first walk into a place like Ina's, you feel like you're at home," said Pierre Poinsett.

"She has a way of charming people. She gets you out of bed and in here at 7 o'clock on a Tuesday morning to come here!" said Marion Rosenbluth, customer.

"When Steve Jobs created the iPhone he knew how he wanted you to feel when you held it. I know what I want you to feel like sitting in that chair, so I built a restaurant for that," said Pinkney.

When you walk through Ina's, there are two things you won't hear: cell phone conversations and music.

"I want people to talk to each other. I don't want there to be anything between the nourishing food I'm making for you and the nourishing environment I want you to eat in," said Pinkney.

Ina seated her last customer and served her last meal on Dec. 31. In more than three decades, she has filled countless stomachs and warmed many hearts.

Ina has shared her recipes in a new cookbook and she says she'll continue to keep up with her customers through her website.

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