Where It All Began...
Over the years, the Ivy Bake Shoppes have not only enjoyed success by preparing and serving great food passionately, but also by paying close attention to our customers~old and new~every day! The Ivy concept started in 1992 in the lower level of a private home and our initial hypothesis was that women with disposable incomes wanted quality baked goods but didn't have the time to bake at home. We soon found that people liked the advantage of buying a variety of small, homemade desserts when entertaining their families and friends. Sue (Welch Saunders) and I discovered that many people were hungry for sweets but didn't want to make a dessert at home because they would end up eating the whole thing! Gradually word of mouth spread about the spectacular goodies (made with real butter, cream, sugar and flour) we were baking and selling out of Sue's home and soon the Ivy's clientele expanded beyond our circle of friends.
In November 1995, the original "Ivy Bake Shoppe & Cafe" was opened in historic downtown Ft. Madison. The building had been home to a six-generation clothing store and we decided to repurpose all of the old oak cupboards and shelves, hardwood floors and century old lighting fixtures. This history became part of our "Ivy Brand" - A beautiful warm surrounding where quality reigned supreme, fresh homemade food would be served and relationships encouraged.
Ivy Bake Shoppe & Cafe, West Burlington, IA
In August of 2013, Sue and I sold the Ft. Madison Ivy to another restaurant. Sue was ready to slow down but I wasn't old enough or ready to do that, so I concentrated on our new cafe.
Our second location in Shottenkirk Superstore opened in 2002 in West Burlington, Iowa. Yep ~ a car dealership! Even though it was a new building with lots of stainless steel and glass, we managed to incorporate iron beams, oak sideboard, old lighting, lots of hanging quilts and a stunning walnut back cupboard (from St. Mary's in Nauvoo) to instill the "Ivy" feel and character. We've thrived in our new setting and have even managed to sell a few cars for Greg Shottenkirk!
Uptown Ivy - Burlington, IA
The bustling cafe in West Burlington didn't keep me busy enough, because in the Spring of 2015, our new second location named "Uptown Ivy" opened in downtown Burlington.
Not only will you find the best food in town here, but we also offer fine chocolates and confections (Wolf & Bark) and quaint antiques (Marmie's). Over the last 23 years we have been so blessed. We are thrilled that people come from all over the country to eat at our Ivy cafes. In January, 2000, Time Magazine included us in an article about river towns; in 2005, the Chicago Tribune wrote about us in their Tempo section; in 2007, our friends from Salt Lake City helped secure a publisher for our Ivy Bake Shoppe Cookbook and the karma goes on and on.
One of my favorite things about owning a restaurant is meeting people and sharing food stories. We hope you will visit us soon so we can hear your "food story".
Martha Wolf, April 2015