By Sylvester Grahame
I can be shameless. There have been times when I have used the ruse of conducting an interview when, in fact, I just want to chat with someone because I find them interesting.
My preferred interviewing style is sitting back, sipping something dark, and asking, “Whattup?” So, I knew I was in for a good time when Deborah Rodeheaver and Dawn Wolfe, of Double D’s Delights fame, came bursting onstage at the old Casa Azul where we agreed to meet for an interview. Their entry reminded of an opening scene from a cherished American musical; all energy, good cheer and primed for fun.
As many musical do, this one begins in the American heartland, is woven from wheat straw, and is finished in a field of dreams.
“Well, it just always seemed to be that way.” began Rodeheaver. “When my niece, Dawn, was born we simply fell in love.”
Their story began in Illinois, moved down to Oklahoma, and ended up in Florida where the main branches of their extended family still live. It was there, even as they were surrounded by a deeply settled family, that they cherished, the women began plotting their getaway.
Without a shred of guilt, D&D spent more and more of their time indulging in their addiction. Like many others in Florida, they were often up to their elbows in powder. Well, not actually a powder, it was milled flour that captivated their attention and most of their time. They would spend hours watching cooking shows and playing in the kitchen, creating with their own ideas or those drawn from their favorite chefs. It was a routine that suited them both perfectly and came to define their relationship.
By 2015, Deborah had had enough. She was eligible for retirement but had zero interest in doing so, especially as it is so often practiced in Florida. When she announced to the family that she was going to make good on a long-time threat and move to Ecuador, Dawn’s first reaction was, “I wonder what I should pack for the move.” There was no question: Dawn was going. She was not about to distance herself from her beloved aunt.
So, on a crystal clear morning in Panama City, Florida, an aunt and a niece, spirited immigrant wannabes and best friends, stood beside a bundle of bags, said their good-byes, and boarded a plane to begin a new adventure.
Double D’s Delights, was not part of the original plan. Although they dabbled in a little catering, the idea of a commercial enterprise was not on their radar. But, oh how they enjoy their time in the kitchen — and so a new business was born.
It all started innocently enough at Javier’s El Salon restaurant in Cuenca. And, as I understand it, it all had to do with weight.
“What are we going to do with all this delicious food?” Dawn wondered. The notion of creating a for-profit business was secondary. “We are not, and have never been influenced by market share or monetary incentive,” she said. “However, we both are dedicated to perfecting our craft, so the distribution of our products became part of our continued education. We quickly realized that creating a business plan that would allow us to grow at our own speed, and on our own terms requires careful decision-making.”
In order for them to be successful, they needed to define their niche in a competitive market. And, as any professional can attest, surveying the market and detailing the means to serve that market is essential. For several weeks they wrote, and re-wrote their business plan, incorporating established business principles and their own desires — and then they answered an ad in Gringo Post. Someone wanted a cake, and D&D wanted to bake. The rest is, as they say, well, you know.
Rodeheaver and Wolfe each spend 35 hours a week in the kitchen. Another 15 hours, or so, is spent in ferias and other events around Cuenca. While many of the 30 or so folks who consider themselves regular customers will order a re-supply of a standing order, it is the special requests that make their day, for this is truly a labor of love.
Double D’s Delights have no intention of opening a brick and mortar place. They know better. Creating fantastic desserts to sweeten people’s lives is what D&D do — at home, on their own time, and to their own rhythm, be it while dancing in the kitchen, or slow-walking by a fragile dessert cooking in the oven.
These two creative, thoughtful, and truly remarkable women understand the necessity of careful planning, the intimacy of creative energy and the reward of service. They exemplify the amazing wealth of creative individuals drawn to this Athens in the Andes; who arrive ready to foster their newly won freedom into a creative effort to enhance the fabric of their new home.
Double D’s Delights will be with us for a long time. They developed a business plan that works for them and is supported by the community. We are all rewarded.
Thanks, Deborah and Dawn.
Contact Deborah and Dawn through Facebook