LAKEVIEW — Ina's Heavenly Hots will live on.
Ina Pinkney, who will close her famous West Loop breakfast place on Dec. 31, said she is developing a dry mix for retail sale so people can easily make her signature pancakes at home.
Althogh Pinkney says it will be "months" before the mix is ready for sale, some already know how to make them. The recipe, which includes sour cream, is in Pinkney's cookbook, "Taste Memories: Recipes for Life and Breakfast," which went on sale this week on Ina's website and at Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St. It also can be purchased at Ina's at 1235 W. Randolph St.
The cookbook also has a recipe for her "Foolproof Pancakes," in which she advises chefs to make sure the batter remains lumpy before pouring it onto a griddle. (Click on the video to see Pinkney explain how to make them.)
Pinkney, better known to food folks as the "breakfast queen," told the Tribune in August that she would retire after 33 years of feeding people. She began in 1980 as a one-woman, special-order bakery, supplying sweet treats to restaurants and other customers around town. She opened Ina's in 1991.
That's a long time to amass loyal followers, which Pinkney has in droves. And if you are not a longtime Ina's regular, then you won't be eating there on New Year's Eve.
Pinkney said reservations for those customers, about 200 in all, already have been made. They'll be given tickets to ensure their spot.
That's about as crazy as it will get. Pinkney said to expect little fanfare leading up to the last day. No countdown dinners, and no final blowout party. The restaurant will close at 2 p.m., as it always does on a Tuesday.
"That's never been us," said Pinkney, who was a finalist in the search for a new "Check, Please!" host. "I think it's because we have this very quiet mission, and when I use the word quiet, I mean it literally and figuratively. We have a restaurant with no music. Cellphones are not allowed. It's really about being a peaceful place. So the thought of a raucous, forced event doesn't fit our personality."
Pinkney is encouraging people to sign up for her monthly newsletter on the website. That's how they'll get details on the sale she will hold in January of the restaurant's stuff — the salt and pepper shakers, coffee pots, chairs, everything.
In February, Pinkney will head to a spa in Arizona. In March, it's back to Chicago for cookbook signings.
She plans to keep writing her monthly newsletter, too. She has mailed it out since 1991. She only just started e-mailing a digital version to her 2,100 (and counting) subscribers last summer.
She fills the newsletter with tidbits about food and life. She used it to announce her 2007 bid for mayor of Chicago as a write-in candidate and her run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. There usually is a recipe, and always a full moon forecast.
"One month I forgot to put it in, and boy did I hear about it," Pinkney said. "I don't know why, but people love reading it, and I love writing it."