After being for sale since last spring, The Sisters McMullen is no more. Fred Dehlow, a second-generation bakery owner from Long Island, N.Y., took ownership of the property from Andrea McMullen on Oct. 31 and has temporarily closed the familiar dark-red Merrimon Avenue storefront to rebrand the business. A soft opening is set for Monday, Nov. 18 with a grand opening slated for after Thanksgiving.
“My idea is to make it into a full-service, full-line bakery,” says Dehlow. “Everything will be made from scratch and offered at an affordable price. I want to be the traditional neighborhood bakery.”
Dehlow says he plans to sell freshly baked bagels, rolls, Danish pastries, pies, cakes and cookies, along with sandwiches — especially of the breakfast variety — all made using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, including flour from Carolina Ground.
All Sisters McMullen employees will stay on board, with Emily McCarthy continuing to decorate cakes and Cassie Hettler working on creating some new gluten-free options. Dehlow is buying all new equipment, including two ovens with stone decks for bread, and new display cases. He’s changing the store’s name to Geraldine's Bakery in honor of his mother, who grew up in an orphanage in Thomasville, N.C. Dehlow learned the bakery business from his father, who began his career as an apprentice in Germany before moving to the U.S.
Dehlow owned a bakery on Long Island for 25 years before shifting into semiretirement eight years ago. Since then, he and his wife, Rosemary, have spent time traveling; they were visiting friends in North Carolina when they fell in love with Asheville. So when their daughter and her family decided to relocate here, they felt it was time for a change.
Dehlow thinks this is a good place for him to start baking again, and he appreciates the focus on local sustainability. “Asheville's 'go local' attitude is one of the things that drew me to this area,” he says.
Rosemary’s background is in managing nonprofit organizations, and both say they’d like to give back to the community by offering job training opportunities and apprenticeships at the bakery. “I would love to pass on the knowledge I received from my father,” says Dehlow.
McMullen, meanwhile, says she feels good about the change and even turned down other offers on the property because she liked Dehlow’s vision. The reason for selling the business, notes McMullen, was that she’s ready for a break — and perhaps a new challenge. “I'm tired,” she explains. “I feel like it's time for something new.” — Gina Smith