Deja Vu, But Now True: Great Cakes Closes

Exactly one year ago today, I posted a story about Great Cakes. The popular  bakery was in danger of closing the next day — January 31, 2013 — done in by a combination of the economy, the slow winter season, changing tastes and a school district-wide ban on cupcakes for classroom parties.

great-cakes-logoWithin hours, a different story was told. Dozens of customers — loyal to owner Rick Dickinson, his assistant Bonnie, and grateful for their constant donations of pies, cookies and, yes, cupcakes to any organization that asked — rushed to the small Post Road store to help.

They handed over cash and checks. They opened “pre-paid accounts.” They offered to devise a business plan.

Great Cakes was saved.

Winter and spring were, well, great. But business tailed off in summer and fall, and never came back.

Now, Rick says, Sunday will be his last day. The decision is final — and “inevitable.”

“For the last 6 years, all I’ve done is worry about payroll,” Rick says.

Bonnie and Rick, the great team at Great Cakes.

Bonnie and Rick, the great team at Great Cakes.

He lives in New Milford. The drive to work takes an hour — and he arrives at 4 a.m. every day to get ready.

“I’m 54 years old,” he notes. “I work 103 hours a week. The business just isn’t here anymore to justify this.

“People are moving away from baked goods. It would cost $50,000 to renovate the kitchen into a deli-bakery. I just think I have to close now.”

He is using this week to pay Bonnie, and his purveyors.

Rick — who took over as owner in 1994 from Max Goree, who started the place in 1982 — loves the town, and has contributed greatly to it. Rick has developed deep, strong relationships with countless customers. They’ve been very good to him, he says.

So has his landlord, who reduced the rent as much as possible. “They know what it’s like — they owned a bakery themselves,” he says.

But on Sunday, the last cupcake will be baked. The last challah will be handed over.

And the last great cake will be sold.

Rick Dickinson, and his great goods.

Rick Dickinson, and his great goods.

28 responses to “Deja Vu, But Now True: Great Cakes Closes

  1. Nicole Mascera

    I am so incredibly sad to read this. I was just in there last week picking up my daughter’s birthday cake and a bunch of cupcakes for her class. I love to stop in and get coffee whenever I can. My husband LOVES their crumb cake. Great Cakes has been wonderful to us. I understand that its hard to keep a business going these days, and I wish they had the money to renovate and add the deli side in. I am going to miss seeing Donna and Rick’s smiling faces. I wish it were different. My son’s birthday is coming up, and my plan was to get his cake there. He loves it! He is going to be so sad that it won’t come from our favorite bakery. I haven’t bought a cake anywhere else. I don’t even know where to look! Maybe they can do custom orders?

  2. Sheylah Flynn

    Incredibly sad over a bakery closing? Wow!

  3. Nicole Mascera

    I am incredibly sad. I am sorry if you find that shocking. They are very good people running an honest business that has been part of this town for decades. I don’t like seeing local family businesses like Great Cakes go under.

  4. Rick and Bonnie are town staples. We are sincerely going to miss this wonderful, warm business and its staff. I wish Rick and his staff nothing but the best. I’m so sad!

  5. I know that many preschool friendships, for both children and adults, were formed sitting at the tables at Great Cakes and enjoying their wonderful treats! I will miss Rick and Bonnie’s smiles and their amazing scones and coffee! I wish them well and success in their next endeavors. They will definitely be missed!

  6. … with much appreciation to the GC staff, and to Rick’s “Great” kids: Cassidy, Brendan & Cole

  7. Wanda Tedesco

    Sorry to see you go. I have had several cakes recently (made with the cupcake batter) and they were chocolate heaven. Wishing all of you luck in the future.

  8. Cole Dickinson

    This is Cole, Rick’s 10 year old son, and I am incredibly sad about the Bakery closing because the bakery brings back good memories. I always loved coming to the bakery to help my Dad. The customers were loyal. They were great people. I liked meeting them. But the most important thing for me, Cassidy and Brendan is that we will get to see our Dad more often.
    I love you Dad.

    • Having more time with your Dad is a true gift. It’s wonderful that you will have that chance. One hundred and three housrs a week is a huge price to pay to keep a business going. Good things will be coming – as one door closes, another one opens. Enjoy your Dad!! He’s a great guy!!

    • Michele Wrubel

      Cole, your Dad’s bakery was a favorite place for our family. When my children were in elementary school, we went there every Tuesday for a treat before heading to religious school. I’ve lost count of how many “regular guy” cakes we had to celebrate birthdays. And my daughter, now in high school, said last week as she bit into what I guess will be her last Great Cakes brownie, “Best. Brownie. Ever.” Your Dad’s business is one thing that has made Westport a special place, and we will miss what he has brought to our community. I can tell from your post that you are proud of him, and we wish him much success in his future endeavors and hope that includes a job closer to home to spend more time with you and your siblings! I hope you’ll keep us posted if your family opens up a bakery elsewhere. My daughter will be getting her license next year, and I’m sure she’ll be willing to make a drive for another brownie!

  9. michelle titlebaum

    I will miss the best scones anywhere! Best of luck to you Rick, and Cole I’m glad you will get to see your super hardworking dad more.

  10. cari kingsley

    Bonnie has been baking my sons 4th of july American flag birthday cake for the last 13 years and has made countless great cakes before that !!!! Im so sorry to hear this , I hope there is someway Bonnie can keep baking !!!!!!

  11. David Squires

    Wow, Sad to hear this news. It was a GREAT run for Great Cakes. Thanks for helping Westport keep some of its small town charm.
    Good Luck to all ~~~~~~> You will be missed…

  12. Michelle Ludel

    Thanks for so many special occasion cakes since we moved to Westport in ’93. Wishing you the best of luck in your next chapter, you will be missed!! Perhaps you can do custom cakes from home, looks like you have loyal supporters!

  13. David Goldstein

    For as long as I can remember my son’s birthday was always a brownie cake from Great Cakes. Even though his birthday is during the summer we will order one more brownie cake for one last event – the Super Bowl.

    We will miss you very much. Thanks for years for great service.

  14. the Weir family will miss you all …Rick and Bonnie … and your delicious treats. You have been a part of our family’s growing up years! God speed … onto new beginnings and there is joy and opportunity in that! Michelle

  15. Allen Levenson

    I am truly saddened to read this, as I honestly feel Westport will be losing an amazing local institution. While there are plenty of chains in town, there just aren’t that many local establishments that make us feel we are a part of a “small” town, but Great Cakes has done that. And while this might sound overly dramatic, I feel like my kids will be losing a small part of their childhood, particularly with Friday evening challahs. Beyond providing wonderful treats, Rick and the team are wonderful people who have been incredibly supportive to so many local charities. Rick, you will be missed, but know that you have made your mark on our “little” town. I am sure Dan will be writing articles on the 10th year, 20th year, 50th year etc anniversary of your closing, and those blogs will bring fond memories to many. Best of luck on your future endeavors.

  16. robin scarella

    Sad, sad, have been buying cakes, cupcakes, cookies, scones and more scones for so many years. All the birthday cakes when my children were little. Was just telling someone what Westport was like 40 years ago when we moved here- Actually picking up a cake Saturday for a friends birthday!! Your special hazelnut with white chocolate frosting- her favorite and boy does she need something special this year!!! Another special part is leaving. Thank you Rick and Bonnie. Think you have earned a sleep in for many mornings to come!!!!!

    Big hug and thanks,
    Robin

  17. Rick — You and Bonnie will be terribly missed. I’m so sorry it hasn’t worked out. Thank you for all your hard work, commitment to the community and friendship over many years.

  18. Megan Acquino Slingo

    So sad to see them go..I’m especially going to miss the cupcake frosting!!!…Yummm…Will be interested to hear if Rick opens a place closer to his Home Town!! Wishing him and his family the best!

  19. Bart Shuldman

    Rick and Bonnie–Bart and Sue and our daughters wish you the best. The girls grew up with your cupcakes and sitting around the tables weekend mornings. My office loves the Apple and Cherry turnovers.

    Times change and it is sad to say goodbye. We chatted about the economy and the challenges. We wish you all the best.

  20. No place to go for Hot Cross Buns during Lent…they were great and would sell out so fast. Wish Rick the best. Hope he tells 06880 readers where he ends up.

  21. … And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

  22. Susan Keywork Dickinson

    I am incredibly moved to read such lovely comments about what Great Cakes has meant to so many of you over the years. As I listened to many customers chatting with Rick and Boni today, I thought I agree with the customer who said, “this is not just a bakery, it’s more special then just that.” It’s truly bittersweet, but there is a little boy who is looking forward to breakfast with his dad on Monday, more than you can imagine.

  23. We are heart broken. We have been Friday challah customers for decades.

    Our 4 kids look forward to returning home to eat great cakes challah.
    We used to ship it to them when they were away at college.

    Rick, We thank you and are hopeful for resurrection. We would be willing to travel.

    Barbara & Alan Phillips

  24. I, too, am saddened to see Great Cakes close. A number of our happier life-events were marked with a delicious, beautifully decorated cake from this fine bakery.
    Wonderful people. I wish them all well in their future endeavors.