A Publication of WTVP

‘My stomach leads the way’

by Phil Luciano | Photos by Ron Johnson |
Webster family

The ch-ching of cheesecake sales in Chillicothe has the Websters chuckling all the way to their Germantown java shop.

Looking for a hobby, Harreld Webster found a new career, along with two family businesses.

Triple Dipple's shop Chillicothe
Triple Dipple’s shop Chillicothe

Bored with a drab job, Webster pursued a long-time love: baking. After noodling around the kitchen with cheesecakes, he and his wife, Tagwana, launched Triple Dipple’s Treats & Delicacies in Chillicothe, which has been running for almost six years. Success there begat Mad Mac’s Coffee, which last year opened in Germantown Hills.

Their secret? He knows what people like.

Mad Mac’s Coffee in Germantown Hills
Mad Mac’s Coffee in Germantown Hills

“My stomach leads the way,” the 44-year-old said with his easy laugh as he looked fondly at his wife, one year his junior. Their partnership – at home as well as in business – involves good fortune and hard work.

In her youth, Tagwana’s family moved between several Midwestern towns before settling in Peoria, where she graduated from Woodruff High School. After earning a communications degree from Xavier College in New Orleans, she headed for a job in Los Angeles.

There, while on a social outing with friends, she ended up at the home of Harreld, an L.A. native. Their initial conversation wasn’t exactly magical.

“The first thing she asked me was, ‘Can I use your bathroom?’” he recalled with a chuckle.

Still, they started dating, and a wedding followed in 2003. The household soon grew to include three kids. With Tagwana working as a stay-at-home mom, the cost of raising a family stretched Harreld’s salary as a 911 dispatcher, especially as California housing costs skyrocketed.

Looking back to her pleasant — and more affordable — roots in the Midwest, Tagwana asked if Harreld might be willing to relocate to Peoria, where she still had family.

“Why would I want to give up the (L.A.) weather?” he replied at first.

Triple Dipple's
Triple Dipple’s in Chillicothe

But he rethought the notion, as the couple ultimately decided that a new start in Peoria would be better on the household budget. Harreld took a job as a maintenance supervisor at a Peoria daycare but found the work tedious at times. In his free time, he found a creative outlet in the family’s kitchen, where he began to experiment with desserts
– especially his favorite, cheesecake.

By 2015, his cheesecakes got so good that the couple decided to sell them at area farmers markets. Sales exploded, to the point the couple discussed the possibility of opening a bakery. Harreld balked. Tagwana convinced him that they should go for it.

“She encouraged me to spend money when I didn’t know where the money would come from,” he said. “She convinced me that I could quit my job and do this (bakery) full time.”

They looked around the Peoria area for a site, ultimately landing on a shuttered bakery in downtown Chillicothe. The interior was in great shape, though the décor seemed a bit too froufrou for their tastes.

“We wanted a place where kids could come in,” Herrald said.

They slathered the inside in bright paint, then dotted the walls with kitchen utensils and family photos, creating a fresh and inviting environment. As for a name for the new business, Harreld leaned on the nickname of the couple’s lone son, Herreld III: Trip, also known as Triple and (for reasons not exactly clear, as nicknames sometimes go) Triple Dipple. From there, the bakery became Triple Dipple’s Treats & Delicacies.

On the first day, before the front door opened, a line stretched down the block. By that afternoon, all products had sold out. Since, customers have well supported Chillicothe’s lone bakery, with 85 percent of sales coming from walk-up purchases.

Said Herrald: “The community is amazing, just super-supportive.”

With both shops a success, do the Websters have any further business dreams? With a feigned look of panic, Tagwana smiles at her husband, then says, “You’re not allowed to get into another business venture right now!”

Herrald smiles, adding that their schedule is packed.

 “We’re doing life with the community,” he said.

Phil Luciano

Phil Luciano

is a senior writer/columnist for Peoria Magazine and content contributor to public television station WTVP. He can be reached at [email protected]