The Pink Cookie Comeback
When the Davis family announced their plans to close the doors of Davis Pastry in Anna back in September, the outpouring of emotion from the public was intense.
After 66 years of business, Davis Pastry had grown to become an institution in the area, and their famous pastries had grown to be an integral part of the memories and traditions for generations of area families.
Following the announcement, Davis Pastry became inundated with orders as people scrambled to stock up on their favorites, and the Davis family worked tirelessly to try to fill these final orders.
Former residents from all over the country were taking road trips back to Union County to pick up a few final dozen of their former favorites, or having relatives send pink cookie care packages by mail.
Once the final cookie was sold, and the “for sale” sign was put up, people began hoping that the business might be purchased, and that Davis Pastry would one day reopen its doors.
And that day has come. Starting Saturday, Jan. 18, Davis Pastry, located at 206 S. Main St. in downtown Anna, will be open for business, featuring new owners, but promising the same treats that generations of area residents have grown to cherish.
Six siblings, current and former Anna residents, have come together to save the pastry shop: Tom Bigler, Elizabeth Buchanan, John Bigler, Brooke O’Reilly, Julie Peterie and Michael Bigler.
“We talked about really what a loss it was for Anna and our community,” said Davis Pastry co-owner Brooke O’Reilly.
“And when we learned that Mr. Davis was putting the business up for sale, we had discussions with him saying that if we were able to actually get his recipes, that we’d be interested in buying. So that’s just kind of how it happened. We bought both the building and his original recipes from him.”
O’Reilly and her co-owners knew that the ability to recreate the Davis family’s recipes was key to the business’s success. And to help them get the pastries exactly right, they’ve hired one of the shop’s previous pastry chefs, Lorie Tellor.
“We obviously had never been a part of making his recipes. So we wanted to make sure we were completely replicating exactly what he had done,” said O’Reilly. “Lorie coming on board was part of our decision to actually purchase Davis Pastry. We wanted to make sure we were doing this the best we could. We wanted to bring this back to our community and offer those same great treats that we grew up with.”
For the six siblings, the purchase was about more than a potential good investment, but it was also about the importance of preserving the businesses that have become landmarks in the community.
“We were all pretty devastated when Rodgers Theatre came down. We love the stories of our father figuring out how he could work enough to get a nickel to go see a movie there,” said O’Reilly.
“And we loved going to movies when we were growing up. It was just really sad for us all to lose that business and that part of history, that part of Anna. So when we heard Davis Pastry was closing, we didn’t want to see it go away permanently. We wanted to invest in Anna and in Southern Illinois.”
A new feature the new owners are hoping to implement will be of great interest to those former residents who have moved away but still craving a taste from home.
“We will be adding shipping, with people being able to place orders via our website,” O’Reilly said. “Anyone in the U.S. will be able to get on the website and ship pink cookies, no matter where they live.”
O’Reilly hopes to have the online shipping option ready for use in six to eight weeks after reopening.
With the reopening of Davis Pastry, the new owners hope to maintain the reputation that the Davis family has cultivated throughout the decades, while also helping to keep the flow of commerce continue through Anna.
“We will focus on not only our quality of food, first and foremost, but also on our customer service. We want it to be a place where people can come hang out, have a cup of coffee, have some pastries and really, have fellowship and community time together,” said O’Reilly. “We’d like to just bring more people to Main Street in Anna and have them want to spend time there.”
The first dozen pink cookies baked at Davis Pastry were going to land in the hands of the highest bidder in a show of support for the Hadley’s Haven, an all-inclusive playground project which is planned in Anna.
Bids were being taken on Facebook until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15.
One hundred percent of the funds generated by the auction will go to build the playground.