‘Granola Bar’ restaurant welcomes Rick Dickinson, brings Great Cakes back to Westport

The Granola Bar, which has been open in Westport for eight years, started as a granola business sold in supermarkets, but soon evolved to become the popular cafe it is today.

Photo by Phoebe Miller '23

The Granola Bar, which has been open in Westport for eight years, started as a granola business sold in supermarkets, but soon evolved to become the popular cafe it is today.

Phoebe Miller ’23, Staff Writer

A couple on their first date sharing a cupcake. A child idolizing his birthday cake. All part of Richard (Rick) Dickinson’s ‘great cakes.’ For decades, Dickinson has made these baked goods for all of Fairfield County to share. First as a baker, and then owner at the bakery Great Cakes, which closed in 2014, and most recently at Peters Market in Weston, which closed last month. 

But now, Rick Dickinson’s signature sweets are returning to Westport at the Granola Bar where he will be working as the Commissary Manager alongside co-owners Dana Noorily and Julie Mountain.

Dickinson made baked goods that were a large part of many Westporter’s childhoods, with some quoting the now-closed bakery Great Cakes, a ‘mom and pop place’. By joining Granola Bar, he is able to bring his goods back to Westport after seven years.

“When I first sat with [Noorily and Mountain] I just loved the vibe of the place,” Dickinson said. “[…] We had a great meeting, and we laughed a lot, and we talked a lot. Now that I’ve met everybody that works here, it’s a really nice environment to work in.” 

Dickinson and Noorily are excited for what new opportunities combining their specialties together can bring for both the Granola Bar and Dickinson’s sweets. 

“We’ve had a moment to kind of recreate ourselves and a perfect example is bringing Rick on and expanding our product offerings,” Noorily said. “The cool thing is we’re talking about making our sandwiches on Rick’s bread, and so it’s kind of like a cool thing to watch evolve.” 

Dickinson also has brought many of his signature goods to Granola Bar and plans to bring more later in his time at the Granola Bar.

“So far we’ve added our brownies, of course our challah bread, cupcakes, cookies,” Dickinson said. “And eventually we are going to do some breakfast baked goods like scones, croissants, turnovers, and cakes.” 

Dickinson and Noorily also plan to keep the Granola Bar’s healthy alternatives in addition to the added sweets.

The baked goods order sheet at Granola Bar, a new addition to the cafe bringing back some of Dickinson’s signature sweets such as his buttercream icing. (Photo by Phoebe Miller ’23)

“I think the cool thing about the Granola Bar is we are at the cross-section of healthy and indulgent, we offer both,” Noorily said. “And so what we’ve found over the years is people tend to like both and that was kind of one of the reasons Julie and I started Granola Bar.”

While Dickinson has been baking for decades, he started off as a chef. But when he started baking, it soon became his focus. 

“I never really liked to bake,” Dickinson said, “but a friend of mine owned Great Cakes and he asked me to come work with him and since I was getting married I decided to make a career change […] and that’s how I started baking.” 

Dickinson worked at Great Cakes for five years before becoming manager, working for 22 more years before it closed. His passion for baking was also motivated by the excitement of his customers when receiving his sweets. 

The Challah rolls at Granola Bar, one of the many new baked goods that Dickinson has brought to the cafe. (Photo by Phoebe Miller ’23)

“[My] favorite thing about baking is the joy it brings to [my] customers,” Dickinson said. “[I] love to see a kid light up when they see their birthday cake.” 

Originally, Noorily and Mountain had not been thinking about adding baked goods to the products they made, but when they met with Dickinson, they knew they wanted him to join the crew. 

“We told Rick when he came in to meet with us that we weren’t looking for someone,” Noorily said, “but the fact that we found him, we wanted him to come join our team.”

Ashley Julien ’23 visited Great Cakes often when she was younger and enjoyed the sweets that they sold in their bakery.

“I feel like it was very different from different types of bakeries,” Julien said. “It’s just different from all of the other places, and you can’t get it from anywhere else.” 

Julien is also happy that the baked goods are coming to the popular cafe in Westport where they can be enjoyed by everyone.

“It’s exciting for it to come to a more well-known place in town,” Julien said. “More people can experience it.”

While Noorily, Mountain and Dickinson are excited to merge their businesses, they know it will still take time to do this.

“It’s a work in progress,” Dickinson said. “We don’t have a lot of space so it’s a matter of being very organized and getting more product out.”

They are also excited about the possibilities that bringing Great Cakes to Granola Bar’s other locations could mean.  

“And you know I think Rick was in the Westport and Weston markets,” Noorily said, “and this will be an opportunity to showcase that in other markets.”

Overall, the groups are glad to bring Great Cakes back to its hometown where its residents can enjoy the sweets once again.

“I love it. I was in Westport for 27 years. I grew up with a generation of kids and did all of their birthday parties and cupcakes,” Dickinson said, “so it’s like a homecoming. I’m so happy to be back in Westport.”