Tag Archives: Rick Dickinson

Rick Dickinson Returns

When one door closes, another opens.

For Rick Dickinson, that cliché is true — literally.

Yesterday, the Peter’s Weston Market door closed for the final time.

This morning, it opens at The Granola Bar.

Rick spent the past 7 years running the market’s bakery. But for more than 2 decades before that, he was the much-loved (and very generous) owner of Great Cakes.

Rick Dickinson, with his great Great Cakes goods.

When that iconic bakery across from New Country Toyota closed 7 years ago tomorrow, Westport lost more than a spot to satisfy a sweet tooth and enjoy a leisurely coffee. It lost a business that always gave back to the community, and a businessman who cared deeply about the town.

Rick was Great Cakes. He worked there for 27 of its 32 years — the last 22 as owner.

As Peter’s Weston Market prepared to close, Rick began thinking about Granola Bar co-owner Julie Mountain. He called, asking if they needed help.

She was stunned. Julie and fellow owner Dana Noorily had just been talking about doing more with their baked goods.

The 3 met at the popular Playhouse Square café. Rapport was instant. “We had the same ideas. And we laughed a lot,” Rick says.

He quickly said: “I’m 150 percent in.”

They quickly said: “Great. You’ll start Monday!”

So Rick is already on the job. Unfortunately, he can’t whip up his new additions to the Granola Bar menu — challah, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, brownies — justlikethat.

Julie and Dana have already purchased a challah maker (from Peter’s). But other equipment is needed.

Items will be added gradually. Challah, he promises, is first.

Coming soon: new bakery items on The Granola Bar menu.

Rick is working out of Westport, supplying it and the 4 other Granola Bar locations (Fairfield, Stamford, Greenwich and Rye).

“Julie and Dana have such a successful business already,” he says. “This is a win-win for all of us. I haven’t been this excited in years. I feel like I’m coming home.”

Welcome home, Rick Dickinson.

And don’t let the door hit you on the way in.

Cole Dickinson’s Baseball Career Is A Cakewalk

Three years ago, Westport’s all-stars electrified the town with a great run to the Little League World Series championship game.

Among their many fans was Rick Dickinson. A huge baseball fan himself (and former high school state champion), as the owner of Great Cakes Rick knew many of the players. Their parents bought Rick’s great cakes to celebrate birthdays, and Rick chatted with them about their sons’ achievements.

Many of those players and their families — all of Rick’s customers, really — knew his son Cole too. The little kid was there behind the counter during busy times, helping his dad.

Great Cakes closed just a few months after Westport’s World Series thrill.

But Rick is still baking locally — and Cole has turned into a baseball star himself.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

The 12-year-old is a 3rd baseman on the New Milford Pride. His team recently won the New England regional championship, and is headed to the Cal Ripken World Series.

It’s set for July 29-August 6, in Aberdeen, Maryland. Cole’s first game is Saturday, July 30 against the Pacific Southwest team, from Hawaii.

(It’s worth noting that in the final inning of the regional final, the score was 9-9. The bases were loaded, with 2 outs. Cole’s hit won it.)

All of Westport — especially those former Little Leaguers — wish Cole and the New Milford Pride good luck at the Cal Ripken World Series.

Win or lose, we’re sure they’ll celebrate their week with plenty of great cakes.


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Boni Is Back Baking

First Rick Dickinson joined Peter’s Market in Weston.

Now Boni Wright is headed there too.

Which means that — starting Monday — the popular Great Cakes bakers will be back together. Just a few miles north.

The response to Rick has been tremendous. Boni’s return should be just as joyful.

Rick said earlier this week that a number of former Great Cakes customers from Westport have started coming to Peter’s now. At the same time, he didn’t realize how many Great Cakes folks actually live in Weston.

There’s only 1 word to use: Challah-lujah!

Bonnie and Rick, together again.

Bonnie and Rick, together again.

Peter’s Market Welcomes Rick Dickinson

Cupcake, cookie and challah lovers, rejoice! Your long Westport-Weston nightmare is over.

Two months after closing Great Cakes, owner Rick Dickinson is back. He’s joined Peter’s Market in Weston, where he’ll draw thousands of devoted customers, while adding a much-needed bakery to our cake-deprived northern neighbor.

Westporters just found a good reason to head to Weston.

Westporters just found a good reason to head to Weston.

The job offer came quickly last week, after a frustrating job search. When a long-time former customer heard that Rick was still looking, she called Peter’s owner Jim Magee.

Jim and Rick met for an hour. Jim made a couple of calls. He learned that hiring the popular baker was a no-brainer.

For the past few days, Rick has been greeting surprised — and delighted — former Great Cakes friends.

At Peter’s, he’s starting pretty much from scratch (ho ho). The mixer and other equipment is not like his old space, but that will change.

Rick Dickinson, and his great Great Cakes goods.

Rick Dickinson, and his great Great Cakes goods.

Right now Rick is making cookies and cupcakes. Cakes will follow.

On Friday he’ll bake the first loaves of his famous challah. It’s sure to go quickly.

Peter’s is a win-win-win: for Rick, Jim, and everyone who loves great baked goods.

Plus, Rick shaves 10 minutes off his former long commute from New Milford. For those of us in 06880, it’s a quick 10 minutes to 06883.

And well worth the trip.

Great Cakes: The Final Day

A few minutes ago, Great Cakes ended a 32-year run as Westport’s go-to bakery.

Owner Rick Dickinson had all hands on deck, including his sons. Rick and longtime baker Boni Wright hugged, cried with and said goodbye to hundreds of longtime customers.

At the same time, there were cupcakes to sell, cakes to be picked up, questions about ingredients to be answered.

It was a typical Great Cakes day.

And one that will never happen again.

In the back, baker Boni Wright decorated her last Super Bowl cake...

In the back, baker Boni Wright decorated her last Super Bowl cake…

...customers thronged the front.

…while customers thronged the front.

Counter help included Boni, and owner Rick Dickinson's sons.

Counter help included Boni, and owner Rick Dickinson’s sons.

Handmade signs said it all.

Handwritten signs said it all.

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.

Great Cakes/Great Story

Once word got out this morning that Great Cakes might close tomorrow — owner Rick Dickinson was unsure whether he could weather the tough period between the holidays and Easter — Westporters went to work.

Folks flooded the popular bakery. They bought coffee, challah and cupcakes.

They handed over cash and checks. And they opened “pre-paid accounts,” to tide Rick through the next few weeks.

Here’s a sign on the front window, made and posted by some Kool2BKind moms:

Great Cakes sign

“Save Our Store” it says. “Open your pre-pay account. Great Cakes knows it’s Kool To Be Kind.”

Meanwhile, here’s another we-love-Great Cakes poster, created by Kings Highway 2nd grader Ryan Lapatine:

It says:

Do you like cake and cupcakes? Great Cake’s

They also have cupcakes, bread and coffe.

You can sit inside.

The employees are REALY nice.

What’s especially impressive is that Ryan chose Great Cakes as her topic for a “persuasive writing” class assignment.

Last week.

You Can Save Great Cakes Today!

Sarah Green — one of the founders of Kool To Be Kind — saw this morning’s “06880” post on the dire straits of Great Cakes.

Owner Rick Dickinson has always been kind to her organization. She emailed me:

great-cakes-logoLynne Goldstein, Cindy Eigen and I are in Great Cakes right now brainstorming ways to save this wonderful local business. Basically, Rick needs $4,000 by tomorrow. If people will come in TODAY and give $100 or $200  for a prepaid account, he can make it … for now.

We need to save the man’s business. Here is someone who was struggling but STILL donated  to K2BK, for example. We as a community can save him!

Is there any way you can blog this now?

Done!

Great Cakes’ Not-Great News

The Law of Unintended Consequences says that actions always have unanticipated effects.

One unintended consequence of last year’s ban on cupcakes at school birthday celebrations may be felt tomorrow.

Great Cakes — the 30-year-old bakery near Bertucci’s — may close.

Rick Dickinson, and his great goods.

Rick Dickinson, and his great goods.

Rick Dickinson — who for 22 years has generously donated his cookies, sheet cakes and, yes, cupcakes, to any organization that asks — says that school cupcakes were 15% of his business.

His landlord has been very understanding, but business — always slow in the months between the holidays and Easter — is just too tough this year.

Tomorrow, Rick says, may be his last day.

Great Cakes Petitions To End Cupcake War

For 22 years, Rick Dickinson has generously donated his Great Cakes creations to Westport schools. Cookies for bake sales, sheet cakes for celebrations — whatever they ask for, he gives.

At the same time, many Westport parents buy Great Cakes cupcakes for their kids’ classroom birthday parties.

Recently — and very unwittingly — Rick was drawn into a food fight on “06880.”

Great Cakes owner Rick Dickinson, with the most controversial food item in town.

It began with a post about a recent note from school district administrators, saying that cupcakes and sweets will no longer be allowed at birthday celebrations.

77 comments later, readers had weighed in on everything from the weight of Westport children, to a variety of parenting styles, to the taste-vs.-healthfulness of Great Cakes cupcakes.

Rick — the owner — is fed up. This week he set up a petition on his counter. It reads:

Great Cakes Supports Westport’s Youth

We support all efforts to promote good health among the youth of Westport, CT.

We only use the best ingredients in our products.

We advise parents to purchase our small cupcakes, or divide items into fourths for in-school celebrations.

We offer to divide our products for parents free of charge.

We strive to avoid the use of any ingredients that are generally acknowledged to cause allergic reactions among children.

We have supported all efforts in Westport to promote child safety, non-bullying, good health and proper nutrition for our children.

PLEASE Support Great Cakes In Our Petition to Rescind the Ban on Food in School Celebrations

Rick hopes Westporters will stop by Great Cakes to sign the petition.

I hope that if you do, you also help support Rick’s long-standing generosity to Westport schools (and many other causes).

Buy a great cake. A bagel. Coffee.

Maybe even (ssshhh) a cupcake.