Dorie's - The Saga Continues

Pleasant Rowland purchased Mack's in 2001 and turned it into Dorie's.  She transformed the old-fashioned notions store, unpretentious soda fountain, and beloved local gathering place into an ostentatious, unwelcoming, overpriced tourist trap. 

After running it unsuccessfully for several years, Rowland turned the establishment over to Wells College in August 2006.  The college turned management of the shop over to Sodexo-Marriot, its dining hall food service provider. 

In November 2008,  the college fired all the Dorie's employees without notice.  They were told that the shope would be run in future run by the college's displaced workers from the closed Aurora Inn, after the Wells once again remodels and redecorates the newly renovated shop.

Aurora sandwich shop Dorie's to change management

The Citizen, Monday, December 15, 2008

When Wells College students return to campus after the mid-year break, they will see sweeping changes to one of the places where they grab a bite to eat.
Management of Dorie's, a popular sandwich shop located in the village of Aurora, will change hands from the national management company Sodexo Inc. to the Aurora Inn, according to a news release from Wells College. The Aurora Inn has shut down Dorie's until February, during which time its staff will remodel the shop into a coffee shop and bakery, changing the decor, lighting and furniture. The menu will also change, featuring made-to-order salads, homemade soups, panini sandwiches on fresh focaccia bread, pastries, cookies, cakes and pies.

Additionally, the shop's hours will be extended late into the evening and will be staffed primarily by Wells students.

“As Wells continues to seek ways to provide excellent food service to our students and the greater community, we looked at different options and are pleased that Aurora Inn, Inc. will manage Dorie's,” Vice President for Communications and College Relations Ann Rollo said in a news release. “Sodexo has managed and staffed Dorie's for the past two years, and we are grateful for their help during that time.”

Wells College declined to comment on how the management shift will affect the Sodexo employees working at Dorie's. Sodexo officials could not be reached on Monday afternoon.

College alumnus Pleasant Rowland purchased and renovated Dorie's - formerly Mack's Drugstore - in 2001. She gifted it to Wells College five years later.

The Aurora Inn itself has also been closed for regular business for the winter season, though the college recently announced plans for a series of week-long learning workshops in January featuring Wells faculty and Aurora Inn dining and accommodations.

Soda fountain gifted to Wells College
by Linda Stout
Ithaca Journal, August 17, 2006

AURORA — Wells College is getting a Main Street soda fountain from Aurora's visible and controversial benefactor.

An official Wells press release pegs it as "a magnanimous gesture" and "the cherry atop an already exquisite sundae," that Pleasant Rowland is turning Dorie's over to the college.

Aurora citizens involved in the Aurora Coalition have been less appreciative of Rowland, the founder of American Girl, and the gentrification of their Cayuga Lake village, dubbing Aurora "Happyland," riding in floats with their mouths taped shut and, more recently, calling for boycotts of a cleaned-up Fargo Bar and Grill.

Rowland's Aurora Foundation took over Fargo, which sits across the street from the Aurora Inn, with profits aimed at benefiting Wells College. The coalition declares, "We like our Fargo UnPleasant."

There've been changes since Dorie's — formerly Mack's, and run for 34 years by Dorie Mack Reynolds — went into Rowland's hands in June 2001. It's managed by Aurora resident and former Aurora Inn manager Winnie Murphy, who will stay on in that position as Wells contracts with Sodexho Campus Services.

Rowland bought the business from Reynolds, a King Ferry resident.

"The times have changed," said Reynolds in a phone interview Wednesday.

Reynolds ran Mack's solo from 1967 to 2001, taking it over as a young, single woman after her mother, who'd been running it, fell ill. Her father, Corthell Mack, started the business as a pharmacy in 1950. After her father's death, her mother and then Reynolds kept it going as a soda fountain and variety store with toys, magazines, sewing notions and what Reynolds called "patent medicines," like aspirin.

A July visit to Dorie's revealed there was still ice cream as well as luncheonette fare, candy and cookies. Visitors and residents can lounge with their laptops because Dorie's is now also a wi-fi spot. There are a handful of magazines, toys and Wells College T-shirts among some other gift items.

"Not like I had," Reynolds said, noting her shop, something of a soda fountain/variety store, was more densely filled with goods.

And it was less expensive. Only about five years ago, prices hadn't kept pace with inflation.

"My ice cream cones went for 50 cents. When I left, a double dip was 75 cents. I didn't make a lot of money," said Reynolds, saying she catered to children and older people.

Call Dorie's and ask, and now a double scoop cone now sells for $2.81 with tax.

"The older people can't visualize what the prices are now," Reynolds said. She sold "aspirin and toothpaste, and you just can't get that there anymore, and that's what people miss. Now of course everyone goes to Wal-Mart ... or the supermarket."

Reynolds, who like her mother left the business due to illness, said she sold her business to Rowland while undergoing chemotherapy. Reynolds has been back to her former store "a couple three times” and despite the sticker shock, found "it's nicer, brighter" and "a nice place to go eat."

The plan is that Dorie's fare won't resemble dining hall food.

"The menu at Dorie's will be entirely different from all of our on-campus dining centers," Sodexho General Manager Gary Aubin said in a statement released by Wells. "The Sodexho staff and I are really excited for the opportunity to have a presence on Main Street."

Reynolds had her own presence on Main Street, as a one-woman show at Mack's.

There were summers Reynolds would take her kids to work, and they would ride their bikes nearby and swim in Cayuga Lake behind the shop. She said she loved seeing generations of Aurora residents in the small business that was in her family for more than half a century.

"I knew all the children and all the people, and now I don't know anybody," Reynolds said. “I watched them grow up and get married and bring their own children into the store. I enjoyed it. I miss the people."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
News Alert: Pleasant Rowland gives Dorie's to Wells College

Like the cherry atop an already exquisite sundae, Pleasant Rowland will give Dorie's to Wells

Aurora, New York - In a magnanimous gesture that tops her already extraordinary generosity, Pleasant Rowland will give Dorie's - a charming Main Street luncheonette and soda fountain - to Wells College.

"Wells College is once again the beneficiary of Pleasant Rowland's singular generosity. With the gift of Dorie's we will be able to provide our students and Village visitors and residents with a unique dining experience, " said College President Lisa Marsh Ryerson.

Ms. Rowland privately purchased Dorie's - the former Mack's Drugstore - in June 2001. In addition to serving homemade soups, sandwiches, salads, fresh-baked breads, ice cream, pastries and desserts, Dorie's is a popular Wi-Fi hotspot.

Sodexho Campus Services will manage the operations of Dorie's beginning October 1. According to General Manager Gary Aubin, "Our expertise in serving college students allows us unique insight into what students want and what current trends in college dining are. However, the menu at Dorie's will be entirely different from all of our on-campus dining centers. The Sodexho staff and I are really excited for the opportunity to have a presence on Main Street - especially now that the Village is so active."

Aurora resident Winnie Murphy, who will stay on as Dorie's manager, said, "From the time I managed the Aurora Inn to my time here in Dorie's I've enjoyed working in the Village. I'm sure this will be one more great experience. I'm looking forward to working with Gary and the folks at Sodexho - just as I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Pleasant Rowland and her team."

"It has been my pleasure to help revitalize Aurora's Main Street and the College's beautiful historic properties," said Ms. Rowland. "I am confident that the College and the Village will prosper as a result of our work."

"Pleasant Rowland has truly taken to heart the College's motto "to have and to share," and she has more than graciously shared her creativity, her intelligence and her dollars to help our College and our Village thrive," said President Ryerson.

For more information, please contact Vice President Ann Rollo at 315/364-3416 and visit the College's Web site: .

Wells College is a nationally recognized private coeducational liberal arts college located in Aurora, New York, on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. It was established in 1868 by Henry Wells, founder of the Wells Fargo and American Express Companies. The College is known as an exceptional value, pairing top quality academic programs with affordable tuition. Wells boasts small class sizes, an extensive experiential learning program, cross-enrollment with Cornell University and Ithaca College, and a wide range of off-campus study options. The academic program allows students substantial freedom to create individually unique educational experiences. The College is currently strengthening its off-campus study programs and introducing new initiatives in its Book Arts Center. A new strategic plan has recently been endorsed by the college community, and Wells broke ground this spring on a new 45,000 square foot science facility.

Kelly B. Tehan
Communications Director
Pettibone House
Wells College
Aurora, NY 13026
315/364-3260 315/364-3362 (fax)

Page Updated December 17, 2008