Dylan Harrell was as sweet as a little girl could be.
After being diagnosed and fighting a 20-month battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an incurable cancer, she passed away in April 2020.
Harrell loved to bake. Her parents, Jeff and Casey Harrell, took her into Cottage Bakery and Delicatessen, where owners Bob and Judi Andrew let her experiment in the bakery’s kitchen.
In 2020, the bakery was up for sale. After Judi Andrew asked Jeff Harrell whether they’d be interested in buying the bakery, the Harrells made an offer and were joined by Mark and Lindy Swain, Casey Harrell’s sister and brother-in-law. The group wanted to serve the community while honoring and remembering Dylan Harrell.
After their offer was accepted, the group rebranded the bakery as Dylan’s Cottage Bakery and Delicatessen.
The bakery, the oldest business in town, dates back to 1908. The Andrews ran the bakery for 46 years before the Harrells and Swains took over.
Baker’s hours are early hours. The work is strenuous. Something wonderful happens when dough rises; when breads and pastries are pulled from a hot oven; and when smells waft, making stomachs growl.
Dylan’s Cottage Bakery and Delicatessen honors the past and brings forward an expanded menu with gluten-free and vegan options alongside the bakery’s time-honored favorites.
“It’s a tricky balance, this incredible array of product,” Lindy Swain said.
The bakery’s selection includes muffins, cookies, cakes, breads and pies. In the deli, aside from Reubens and clubs, there is the Beach Comber, the Bogger (turkey and cranberry) and a half-dozen more options, each as tempting as the last. There is many more options, like bread pudding, maple-bacon bars, cranberry white-chocolate scones, hearty soups, croissants and nearly two dozen breads.
Bakery manager Katie Witherbee-Allsup, a former chef and baker, brings experience to the table. She is strident about the commitment it takes to produce fine food. Frank Fiorillo, the head baker, has come and gone over several decades. He is the son of a baker and grandson of a bakery purveyor. He regularly starts his day in the bakery at 2 a.m.
“Challenge and honor,” he repeats, his personal mantra throughout the workday.
Fiorillo’s assistant, Leo Hinogoza, formally of Home Bakery in Astoria, follows suit, a commonality among the staff.
The bakery is a major employer in the area, with a staff of about 25 people. Employees extrude friendliness, service and a dedication to the owners’ mission, a vision that will always include Dylan Harrell. A percentage of the bakery’s profits goes to Dylan Harrell’s local foundation, the Dylan Jude Harrell DIPG Foundation, which raises awareness of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma and aims to help find a cure for the disease.
The bakery remains one of the most beloved gathering places for coffee, pastries and sandwiches on either side of the Columbia River. And now the bakery has further purpose: to keep in remembrance of the sweet child who ate pastries in this same spot.