Bill and Kim Goebel in the final days before closing La Petite for good after a 55-year run on the Southwest Side. --Photo by Cosmo Hadac

Bill and Kim Goebel in the final days before closing La Petite for good after a 55-year run on the Southwest Side. --Photo by Cosmo Hadac

Bittersweet days on 63rd Street

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La Petite Pastry Shop closing after 55 years 

By Tim Hadac

For many in Clearing, Garfield Ridge and beyond, it was the worst news they had heard in a long time.

After a 55-year run on the Southwest Side, La Petite Pastry Shop is closing at year’s end.

Reaction was swift on the shop’s Facebook page.

“I am devastated,” Joanna Korenkiewicz said. “I’ve had your rainbow cakes for every single birthday of my 42 years. My family has too…La Petite is a big piece of my life, my family and heart and there will now be a void. No other bakery holds a candle to you. The donuts, the coffee cakes, the rainbow cakes, number 1! We have loved having you in our lives. What will I do for my birthday now? Can I freeze, like, 10 rainbow cakes?”

Teri Korolewicz posted a photo of her spectacular-looking wedding cake from 23 years ago and added that La Petite “did what a certain other neighborhood bakery said couldn’t be done and matched my colors perfectly.”

Yvonne Hernandez said she is “heartbroken because you already know our family has had a rainbow cake at every birthday and big celebration! I’ll miss emailing you decoration inspiration…Please get ready to make a few more rainbow cakes before the end of year!”

Tricia Alicea said she has “been eating La Petite pastries since I was about six years old” and that includes her wedding cake, baby shower cake, and her children’s and grandchildren’s birthday cakes and cookies.

Josefina Salgado said she has “been going to La Petite for 38 years it’s the only bakery I’ve gone to since I was 14 years old…it’s the best bakery ever. I’m really going to miss my favorites. Kim is the best ever, and her staff is wonderful. My children love La Petite too…how we’ll miss walking through your door and smelling the wonderful pastries and buying the best baked goods.”

All five women, like dozens of others, added their good wishes for a long and pleasant retirement for La Petite owners Bill and Kim Goebel.

It started in Germany

Bill Goebel grew up in Germany, in a town not far from Heidelberg and began baking in his uncle’s shop at age 14.

He immigrated to America a couple of years later, working at Southwest Side bakeries and then serving in the U.S. Army, stationed in France.

In 1967 he launched La Petite at 2640 W. 63rd St., in a space that had been the home of Hoss Bakery. In 1972, the shop moved a couple of blocks west, to 2809 W. 63rd St., a storefront that had been the longtime home of Kiltz’s Bakery.

Kim started with La Petite in 1973.

CRRNH LaPetite122022 122822

Bill and Kim Goebel in the final days before closing La Petite for good after a 55-year run on the Southwest Side. –Photo by Cosmo Hadac

The bakery became popular in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. Its proximity to St. Rita Church helped.

“Sunday was our busiest day,” Goebel recalled. Wave after wave of customers flooded the bakery after each Mass ended.

Goebel chose the La Petite name in part as a nod to how small his space was. But it was noticed in the community.

“Someone once said to me, ‘What’s a German baker doing in an Irish neighborhood, with a French name?’” Goebel recalled with a hint of a chuckle in his voice.

A busy, bustling bakery

In its heyday, La Petite delivered and sold its baked goods to customers both small and large—everything from senior citizen clubs to small grocery stores to schools and hospitals.

The Goebels built a strong reputation as a full-line bakery carrying top-quality items like breads, breakfast items, pastries, mini-pastries and cakes. Their best selling items were their rainbow cakes, chocolate doughnuts and pecan coffeecakes. They also became the baker of choice for wedding and other special-occasion cakes.

In 1976, La Petite opened a second location nearly four miles west, at 5610 W. 63rd St., in a space that was once home to Stadler’s Bakery. They prospered and have been there ever since. They maintained the 2809 W. 63rd St. shop until 1998.

Today a spry 81 years old, Goebel has seen quite a few changes in retail baking.

“Here in Chicago, we used to have almost 2,900 [American-style] retail bakeries, and now we’re lucky if we end up with 200,” he observed, referring to a trend that has seen the demise of independent, stand-alone bakeries and the rise of in-store bakeries at places like Jewel, Mariano’s and other large grocery stores.

Goebel was a leader in trade organizations like the Chicago Area Retail Bakers Association and the Retail Bakers of America. His colleagues weighed in with a few kind words.

“Congratulations!” wrote John Roeser of Roeser’s Bakery, 3216 W. North. “A well deserved retirement for you both. It was an honor and pleasure to deal with you for so many years. Your commitment to quality baking in your own shop and willingness to share that knowledge and enthusiasm with all Chicagoland bakers is truly admirable. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for so many. Now go do for yourselves!”

Dennis Stanton, whose family owned and operated Swedish Bakery in the Andersonville neighborhood until it closed in 2018, added, “Congratulations and best wishes. Hope you find retirement as rewarding as we have. Have many fond memories of working together with CARBA and RBA. The baking industry will be missing a key member of the Chicago retail baking scene, and I’m sure all of your customers and friends will mourn your closing. But it is time for a new chapter in your lives and I’m sure you will be the richer for it.”

Looking ahead

With the Goebels no longer having to wake up in darkness day after day to serve customers, they say they’ll definitely miss the people they’ve served, but not the daily work grind. They plan to take it easy and spend more time at their lake house in the Sandwich area.

What will become of the La Petite space is a question mark. The Goebels own the 1929 building and have tenants in the apartments above the bakery. Their son, Chris, will not be taking over. He is general manager of Talerico-Martin Bakery in nearby Summit.

There is a chance that the Chicago Department of Aviation could purchase the building and raze it as part of its ongoing plans to make it easier for pilots to take off and land more safely at Midway International Airport. CDoA did that with the historic Crane & Moreland Building, a 1927 structure that stood next to La Petite until it was demolished in 2014.

La Petite also could become home to another independent bakery.

The business, including all equipment is “definitely for sale,” Goebel said. “We could negotiate a price. It already has everything you’d need.”

8 Comments

  1. Tim Dunworth on December 24, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    A bittersweet story! So happy and sad to see you retire, however a well deserved new chapter in your life story.



  2. Gaynell Bowie on December 25, 2022 at 9:46 am

    Please, please leave us your recipes on YouTube or write a recipe book, or something anything don’t let them go just like that!?!????????????????



  3. Jim on December 25, 2022 at 9:52 am

    The one on 63rd on 2600 was a great place to get coffee and a doughnut.



  4. Tonya Wojturski on December 25, 2022 at 11:47 am

    Sad to have to read this. Thank you for the years of deliciousness and I wish you both a happy and healthy retirement. It is your time to shine!! Sit back , relax and enjoy the rest of your life! Your neighbor and friend. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!❄⛄❤



  5. Terrence G Smalarz on December 25, 2022 at 12:18 pm

    Really enjoyed Saturdays or Sunday mornings stopping by for fresh cakes, sorry well miss them days.
    GOOD LUCK.



  6. Barbie on December 26, 2022 at 11:01 pm

    I haven’t look at face book long time this is upsetting.. why r they closing?



  7. Losoya on December 26, 2022 at 11:05 pm

    Love and God Bless Dave Barbie and Katherine



  8. Carmen on December 29, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    Congratulations to Bill and Kim. Enjoy your retirement.



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