Delectable Desserts

Baking Spirits Bright

How does someone without a sweet tooth end up as the owner of a successful bakery?

“The chocolate cheesecake, it’s the reason we opened the bakery,” laughs Dennis Mbeba, owner of Delectable Desserts in Dartmouth. After falling in love with his wife Melissa’s baking, Mbeba opened the retail and wholesale bakery in 2017, shortly after moving to Nova Scotia from Alberta.

Delectable Desserts dedicates itself to gourmet and specialty dessert items, like cheesecake, mousse, truffle cakes and extravagant cookies and cupcakes. Although their items are available for walk-in customers and catered events, their biggest customers are Nova Scotian restaurants and cafés.

Most restaurants don’t have in-house bakeries, and many order their desserts from as far away as Toronto or the United States. Mbeba recognized the gap in the market and began meeting with chefs at popular eateries around Halifax and Dartmouth to sell them on Delectable Desserts’ gourmet offerings. He quickly found success, discovering how much Nova Scotians care about the success of small businesses and want to support local initiatives.

Dennis and Melissa are a dream team, both in their business and in life, and proof of the old adage of opposites attracting. Dennis grew up in Tanzania, home to Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, and moved to the Kitchener-Waterloo area in high school. He has been interested in business and entrepreneurship for his entire life, sharing how his mom helped him build a popcorn stand at the age of five, from which he sold bags of popcorn outside of the local market. Although this early venture only lasted a few weeks, some of the skills he learned are put to use today. Dennis is responsible for the administrative side of the business, managing all of the finances, staffing, scheduling and processing orders.

Meanwhile, Melissa brings the creative flair to Delectable Desserts, running the bakery side of the company. Growing up in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, she learned to bake with her grandmother as a little girl, and still uses her Grandma Jean’s cookie recipes. As a teenager and into university, Melissa always worked in a bakery, constantly learning and improving her skills.

Like for many small businesses around the world, the onset of COVID-19 required the Delectable Desserts owners to pause and take stock of their business model. Mbeba explains that the pandemic forced them to “flip the business model on its head,” completely transitioning from a business-to-business to a business-to-consumer model. Back in early 2020, the company was predominantly wholesale, and in its worst moment, lost 19 restaurant customers in a single day.

After closing for a month to reflect and spend time with their 3 boys, the Mbebas re-opened with reduced hours and began to shift their focus online. They launched a new website and started taking custom orders; by Mother’s Day, they were busier than ever. Successfully shifting their business through such a difficult time has enabled the couple to see how much room for growth their business has.

Dennis explained how important his company’s relationship with its banking partner is. As he was starting up, he knew he wanted to do everything locally, which made CUA the perfect choice. He had a finished business plan, restaurants committed to purchases, and just needed funding. He was able to secure a loan through the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, which enabled him to start producing and promoting his products right away. He recommends CUA to any new business, noting how much they foster a community environment, support local business and always have someone willing to listen.

Dennis explains, “I’m a big believer in local economies…. I 100% see the benefit. You can’t go wrong if you support somebody in your community, because they’re going to turn around and spend that same money back in your community.”

When asked if having a family business ever causes issues in their personal life, Dennis described that he and Melissa both love it. “We’re all together, working towards the same goal. Our vision is always clear and it’s always the same. There’s comfort in that.” He says the trick is finding someone with a similar mindset and growing together outside of your comfort zone.
We’re proud of the work we do to support businesses starting, growing, or adapting in any environment. Learn more about our flexible commercial banking services, including account and financing options. Are you a CUA small business with a story to share? Email to connect with a member of our team.

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