Tiphanie Cannon, owner of Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie in downtown Davenport, was the perfect pick to be a main speaker Wednesday morning for the Quad Cities Chamber AMp Up meeting (held virtually).

She’s not only found creative ways to cope and thrive during the Covid-19 pandemic, Cannon has shown enormous heart by making

Tiphanie Cannon has owned the downtown Davenport business since 2014.

hundreds of lunches this week for overworked medical staff at UnityPoint Health – Trinity and Genesis hospitals.

Originally planned as an “Adopt a Nurse” program, she asks customers to spend $10 per employee, for Oh So Sweet to make and deliver individually boxed lunches consisting on one of their popular sandwiches, a giant cookie, chips and a pickle.

On Nov. 17, Cannon had over 300 sandwiches delivered to Trinity campuses in the Quad-Cities, and on Nov. 20, they will deliver 540 boxes for the ICU, Emergency Room, Medical Pulmonary Unit and Medical Telemetry staff at Genesis West, East and Silvis.

“ER and ICU nurses are working overtime to support those who are sick. And non-critical nurses are having to step in to help out too to provide the best care possible,” Cannon posted recently on Facebook. “And because of the high volume of Covid patients right now, nurses are not getting a lunch break. They need something they can grab and go in between patients so they can continue to care for those who are critically ill.”

The six-year-old Oh So Sweet (at 314 Main St., Davenport) has a regular customer who’s a nurse at Trinity Bettendorf, and last Saturday, when Cannon delivered to her, she told her about her “Adopt a Nurse” idea. She replied the nurses would love it and put Cannon in touch with the nurse manager.

A chicken salad sandwich from Oh So Sweet.

They started making sandwiches Saturday afternoon, and six employees made over 300 to deliver on Tuesday to Trinity staff, among a variety of 10 different sandwiches.

The public can order for $10 each, and for any lunches that aren’t purchased, Oh So Sweet covers the rest, Cannon said. “If the public doesn’t

Tiphanie Cannon, right, and Emma Fritz make sandwiches at Oh So Sweet, Davenport.

respond, Oh So Sweet would make up the difference for sure,” she said Wednesday.

Cannon has been overwhelmed with gratitude from others. “Some people have told me it brought them to tears. It’s been positive for sure,” she said.

“Everybody’s counting on the nurses and the hospital staff, and they’re taxed right now,” she said. “They’re stretched very thin. One of the things I can do is feed people, and so I just felt like my staff and I came in on Sunday and Monday – which are our two days off – and we’re able to donate our time and whatever else we could to help them.

“It’s just important to me as a human being to give back, and help where I can, to be honest,” Cannon said. “It’s just the kind thing to do.”

“Let’s all do something good together for the people that need help so they can continue to help those who are most vulnerable right now,” she posted on Facebook.

“You guys are all amazing,” Shannon Goss of UnityPoint – Trinity posted Tuesday. “I was one of the nurses working today and I can’t tell you how this made everyone in the hospital smile today!!!”

“One more big giant thank you to the #quadcities for circling the wagons and supporting the nurses and medical staff at all the Trinity locations,” Oh So Sweet posted Tuesday. “We’ve gotten so many messages from people that work there expressing how much they

A turkey BLT sandwich, with homemade garlic dressing on homemade bread.

appreciated lunch.”

“Throughout this crisis, Genesis has been humbled by the support of the communities and patients we serve,” Genesis spokesman Craig Cooper said Wednesday. “Front-line health care providers have been asked to adapt to a very new and different level of care and have responded heroically. We are appreciative whenever they are recognized.

“Thank you Tiphanie and Oh So Sweet for generously thinking of our staff,” he said.

The only person Cannon knows who’s had Covid-19 was herself, after testing positive in August. She quarantined herself at home, but did not receive special treatment.

“It was lonely, but not scary,” she said. “I’m fine; I’m pretty healthy.” Last month, she donated plasma to help other Covid patients in need.

Sharing tips on surviving a pandemic

For the Chamber meeting, where she was among three speakers, Cannon said:  “I thought the Covid crisis would be over by now, but here we are, still in the middle of it.”

When she had to close her business March 17, the first thing Cannon did was to cut the menu, get everything online, switch sales to curbside pickup and delivery, and hire a delivery driver. Previously, customers could order cakes online, but that was it. By the morning of March 18, the entire Oh So Sweet menu was online.

A Thanksgiving apple pie from Oh So Sweet.

“We’ve always had sandwiches at Oh So Sweet, and always made bread,” Cannon said later. “But not very many people knew about it. When

Genesis hospitals in the area will get Oh So Sweet lunches delivered Friday.

Covid hit, I cut most of the desserts out and then I turned my focus toward lunch. I thought lunch was something I could handle easily, because most of my employees chose to self-quarantine, so I could handle that with one or two other employees.

“I thought it was more conducive to curbside or delivery,” she said. “Not many people are gonna drive downtown for a chocolate-chip cookie, but people would be more likely to drive downtown for lunch. Then I was also banking on places that were still open and working, getting lunch delivery. And it worked.”

Sales were more than steady after the shutdown, Cannon said. “We’ve been very lucky.”

In her Chamber talk, she noted the closure cut three main revenue streams — walk-in traffic, cakes for large parties and other gatherings, and sales to other restaurants.

She also eliminated all breakfast items, keeping minimal desserts. Cannon had a feeling that offices, hospitals and other workplaces still open would place lunch orders for delivery.

“I had a vision and I had a ton of hope,” she said. “Luckily, the Quad-Cities rallied around Oh So Sweet. Customers ordered online; we had giant lunch orders. We took hundreds of Cluck Norrises out to people’s cars; dozens upon dozens of cupcakes through people’s car windows.”

“We were busier than ever and for every week we were able to stay open, I was unbelievably grateful,” Cannon said. The next hurdle was keeping the energy up, and she boosted its social media marketing.

Oh So Sweet By Tiphanie is at 314 Main Street.

“I knew people were going to be at home and looking at social media more,” Cannon said. She added fun, creative TikTok videos to her mix. “The key to a good TikTok is, the sillier, the better.”

“We literally have no shame at all and are not afraid to embarrass ourselves,” Cannon said. “I also think people needed something light-hearted. People needed something to laugh at that was funny. And our TikToks checked that box. We were silly and goofy and dancing and not ashamed to do what we had to do, to get people to order.”

It worked, she said, showing some of her videos Wednesday morning. (You can watch one HERE.)

Cannon also collaborated with other local businesses for unique, tasty treats, including Lopiez Pizza, Mississippi River Distilling, Front Street Brewery, Fatsacks, Armored Gardens, Lagomarcino’s and more.

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“This was another way we could bring another business on board and spread the love,” she said. One example was a lemon cupcake with strawberry macaron and a shooter of MRDC strawberry vodka on it, and it’s been their most successful cupcake of all time.

With Lago’s (which she said was like partnering on a record with Beyonce), Cannon made a special chocolate cupcake; with Lopiez, it was

A recent birthday cake from Oh So Sweet.

their margarita on a cupcake and hibiscus margarita on a French macaron; and they did Front Street beer on a cupcake.

After the rollercoaster stress of this pandemic, she shared what she’s learned along the way.

Cannon was a featured speaker at a Wednesday morning Quad Cities Chamber meeting.

“Number one, there is no right or wrong answer,” Cannon said. “What works for me might not have been feasible for another business. Nobody knows what to do during a pandemic or how to handle things. There’s no guidebook or link online giving us the best answers.”

“I literally have no idea what I’m doing,” she admitted. “I was scared to death when the first shutdown hit and I’m nervous with the statistics spiking. Illinois has closed the restaurants again and I was anticipating another shutdown for Iowa.”

“You cannot keep your business alive during a pandemic without change,” Cannon said. “Don’t be afraid to try new things. You don’t know what might actually work. Have a lot of good ideas and don’t be afraid to implement them.”

“If you don’t change and try something different, that’s when your business is more likely to suffer,” she said. “Different can be scary. But

Cannon shows off Hibiscus Macarons using the Lopiez secret margarita recipe.

you’re never gonna know unless you give it a shot. That just might mean the difference between closing and keeping your business open.”

“Support local whenever possible,” she added. “However you spend your money, think about how you can spend it locally first, before you head to Walmart or Target.”

With the surge in virus cases the past month, she has told employees she’s not scared, because if they have to shut down again, they can.

“We have a plan that worked before and we would just implement that plan again,” Cannon said. “I’m anticipating another shutdown; it hasn’t happened yet, but if and when it happens, we’ll be ready. It’s the holiday season – so it’s our biggest season, from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Right now, I think we’re good.”

Last November, Cannon appeared on the Food Network’s “Christmas Cookie Challenge” for the chance to win $10,000, which she filmed earlier in 2019.

You can see her Wednesday Q-C Chamber presentation on YouTube (starting about 47:15).

To cover the cost of Genesis lunches Friday, you have several options –

  • Visit com, and click on “order online.”
  • Visit com/OhSoSweetByTiphanie, and click “Order Food.”
  • Call 563-345-9866 and order by phone.
  • Or download the Oh So Sweet mobile app.

Cannon said she isn’t sure how long she’ll continue to make the hospital lunches.

“I want to make sure I am on the same page as Trinity and Genesis,” she said. “I did not expect this to be as big as it is.”

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.