The Swedish Bakery, located at 5348 North Clark Street in the city's Andersonville neighborhood, has been in business for the last 88 years. It is unofficially considered the last Swedish bakery in Chicago and reminds neighbors of the community's history.
People started lining up very early Tuesday morning for a chance to buy pastries and cakes from the beloved bakery before it closes for good. Many plan to freeze them.
"You can't get through a day without dunking your toast or coffee cake. Some of the things I've learned to bake. But I don't do all of it. I can't talk much more because I'll be teary-eyed," said Carol Grosso Gustafson, a loyal customer.
The bittersweet day coincides with "Fat Tuesday," the last day before the season of Lent begins for Catholics. Traditional paczkis were sold, along with signature pastries.
The Stanton family bought the bakery 38 years ago. They said changing times have dictated an honest evaluation of the business. People just don't come to bakeries like they used to.
"I'm flummoxed that this would go out of style. I think it's going to leave a hole here," siad Pete Kraeger, a customer.
The family determined, without anyone younger to take over, it would be best to say goodbye.
"From a business point of view, it makes a lot of sense. But obviously, I think the emotions will catch up with us after we've actually shut the doors at the end of business today," said Dennis Stanton, Swedish Bakery's head baker.
Manager Karen Barker saw many familiar faces in the crowd Tuesday, but said many people who have been rushing in since the closure was announced have never been to the bakery before.
"I wish they had been here the last three years at least. That would have kept things going," Barker said.
In a Facebook post, the Stantons thanked generations of customers and neighbors for all the years they had together.
"Only just my customer is my family. They give me love and I give love. They give me love," said Zehra Kamal, who works at the bakery.
The bakery will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. It's unclear what will happen to the building, but the Stanton family said they have had plenty of inquiries.