What are the ingredients needed to create a recipe for success? For Patrick Groth, it was 500 pounds of chocolate, the desire to sell a flawless flourless chocolate cake and a home stove that just couldn’t keep up.
“He was going to do a mail-order business. It turned out it was a lot better to do it from a restaurant setting,” says Melanie Dineen, Patrick’s sister and cake designer/photographer/blog author for Incredibly Delicious, her brother’s French bakery and café located in the historic Weber House near downtown Springfield. “We were driving by [the house] one day and just happened to see a sign that it was for rent and stopped in and looked at it. And he said to me, ‘What do you think about this?’ And I said, ‘I think this could be great.’”
That was 1995. Patrick had recently moved home after attending the French Culinary Institute in New York and working in France, with the dream of opening his own business. His friend and former colleague Bitzy, who later became his wife, came to help.
Melanie began working there after graduating high school, and describes the restaurant’s humble beginnings: “We started with that dessert [the flourless chocolate cake], and we had the one dining room that we rented from this house, and at first we only had desserts. People walked in and said, ‘I want a sandwich,’ so then we started making sandwiches. It just grew from there.” She adds, “Sometimes you’d take the order, you’d make the food, you’d take out the food, it was such a small staff then.”
Both the restaurant and staff have grown significantly in the 24 years since. Now the restaurant is in the entire building, and Patrick lives upstairs with his family. Their mother, Penny, a co-owner, works three days a week making cookies and other desserts. “It’s a big family affair,” according to Melanie, mentioning that another brother and sister also “did their time” and now Patrick’s children and hers are excitedly taking on roles of their own.
Now that they occupy the whole house, patrons can sit in one of the four dining rooms or in the courtyard overlooking the gardens. “We’re a very family-oriented place—we have a lot of people who come with their kids,” she says. “Seeing clients get married and have babies and making their cakes for all the occasions is a huge connection. We are a place for everybody … it’s been interesting to see clients age over the years; it breaks our hearts when we lose them. But then having new clients come in all the time and discovering us for the first time, then it feels like their special spot, like ‘This is where we’re going to go. This is our place.’”
Obviously, the flourless chocolate cake is Incredibly Delicious’ signature dessert. “It’s not really something that’s readily available in town,” she says. “It’s a very delicate process to make it—it’s involved and takes time, making sure you’re accurate with your measurements.”
Melanie names the chicken salad sandwich as their signature lunch item. “It was actually my nana’s recipe. People love it—it’s still one of our number one-selling items. Our homemade quiche is fantastic. We do seasonal salads … we always do a vegetarian option for lunch every day. We do have some things we can do for vegans, and most of our breads are vegan.”
The breakfast and lunch menus, which change daily, can be found on their website at incrediblydelicious.com. There are a few other ways to sample their fare as well.
The restaurant has been participating in the Old Capitol Farmers Market for years and has won best market vendor in the Illinois Times (as well as best wedding cakes and best bakery).
“We just started with a van and whatever we could make—it’s grown to quite a big production. Gary Huff has been the backbone of the market the whole time we’ve done it. … He just retired two years ago, but even this last weekend we were short a person and he walked through the market and said, ‘Hey, do you want me to help?’ and jumped in.”
Melanie tries to not take on more than four weddings a weekend, but sometimes that turns into six. “We like to do high-quality work, so we don’t like to overextend ourselves.” She continues, “I enjoy the emotions that go along with it … the excitement. I think a lot of people come here kind of anxious about it, but it’s really an easy process. It’s nice to be the calm in the storm.”
She says they don’t host large events, though the salon, which accommodates up to 32 people, can be rented for small parties. Because it is the family’s home, hosting weddings is beyond their scope.
The holidays are a busy time for the business. “We do some really cool things during the season. We do Buche de Noel—a roll yule cake, with cake and buttercream and jam in a couple of different flavors; we’re going to do spiced cookie butter this year, and we’re also going to do a chocolate mocha raspberry. We have all our holiday tarts and cakes, too.” Christmas orders can be made online beginning Thanksgiving Day at incdelorders.com.
They also import some items from Europe, including olive oils and fine French jams that can’t be found locally. Melanie says they support as much local business as they can and still offer a variety of things you can’t get around town.
Because there is a lot of production, Melanie says staying on top of things can be challenging. “I think our staff works to the level of whatever we need to, so we can really kick it in high gear when we need to. The holidays are always challenging. We have a lot of orders. But then we take a break after the holidays. We’re off for a week and we get to decompress. It’s better for everybody to have a breather. We really appreciate our staff and want them to have time with their families.”
She says that though they’ve grown, they maintained the core basics of a small business that started as a mom-and-pop shop. Next year will be their 25th year, and she promises there will be a big shindig.
“I think that where we’re at right now is fantastic. We are matching the speed of Springfield. It’s still an exciting place to visit for people who don’t live here. [And] I think that never straying too far from what we’re about is really important.”