In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers' market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,150 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options, such as the pepperoni pretzel and eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs, slicing it into bite-size nuggets, or using it to build historically accurate Austrian villages. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including flavored lemonade mixers.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. They also reach out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
The team at WakeUp wants to make it as simple as possible for their customers to come in and get coffee. Patrons can call ahead to put in a drink order and save time during morning commutes by skipping the line once they stop in to pick it up. Prepaid drink cards free customers up from counting cash or running a credit card at each visit, and they can even leave the cards at the café for safe keeping. Frequent visitors reap rewards—after every nine drinks purchased they receive one complimentary beverage.
The menu is small but diverse. Baristas brew lattes and americanos from Alaska's own Kaladi Brothers Coffee and flavor mochas with white or dark chocolate. Steam continues to annoy gravity by rising from cups of hot tea or apple cider. For breakfast, patrons nibble on muffins or bagels with cream cheese, or munch on breakfast sandwiches such as maple pancake with sausage or croissant with egg, sausage and cheese. A weekly rotating lunch menu has boasted sandwiches such as philly cheesesteaks, salmon chowder, and herb-roasted turkey on a torta roll.
While living in Hawaii, CJ and Julia von Imhof got hooked on açai bowls, colorful portions of fruits munched by surfers for a natural, vitamin-packed energy boost. The base of the bowls, açai, is a restorative fruit found in Brazilian palm trees, rumored to be a superfood for its high antioxidant content and ability to deflect bullets. The von Imhofs craved the superhealthy food when they moved to Alaska, inspiring them to open their own açai café and “healthy-lifestyle shop.”
The little restaurant brought a slice of island life to Alaska; as a food critic at the Anchorage Daily News wrote, “A distinctly Hawaiian influence was evident on my first visit; I was instantly transported to a beachfront surf shack.” The shop’s signature dish, the açai bowl, starts with a base of açai blended with dark berries and topped with a tasty variety of tropical fruits, chia seeds, chopped almonds, goji berries, spirulina, and bee pollen. The vegan-friendly bowls contain no added sugars or preservatives, yet still taste as sweet as dessert, breakfast cereal, or revenge, leading to delighted reviews by food critics from Examiner.
Sleepy Dog Coffee Company's baristas brew their own batches of freshly house-roasted blends while satiating snackers with a selection of baked goods between the walls of a rustic, WiFi-saturated shop. Customers can warm their paunches with a draught of brewed coffee ($1.25–$2), a beverage more capable of keeping weary truck drivers awake than an audiotape of the world's 100 worst poems. Sip a specialty mocha ($3.50–$5), or eschew caffeine with a hot chocolate or steamer ($1.25–$2.75). Or, tote home a 3/4-pound or one-pound bag of roasted grounds, such as the Sleepy Dog or Sumatran blend ($5.75–$11.50), to stock up on caffeinated sustenance for long nights of grass-growth observation. Sleepy Dog also features a history-laden back room dedicated to famous Iditarod dogs, and incentivizes ecological sustainability by granting $0.25 discounts for patrons who bring in their own coffee vessels.
After years of managing other people’s restaurants, Tinker Berson realized a long-cherished dream by opening her own deli, where a menu of lunches and all-day breakfasts stuffs diners amid verdant potted plants and climbing vines. Clients opt for the simplicity of staff-conceived deli creations or engineer their own, choosing a bread base, favorite condiments, meat such as pastrami or roast beef, cheese, and veggies to match the size of their appetite or one-up a lifelong rival sandwich eater. Breakfasts beckon morning diners with similar creative possibilities as well as quick bites, such as a veggie burrito or belgian waffle drizzled with syrup and topped with strawberries. Fresh salads and real-fruit smoothies with optional Red Bull boosters infuse meals with sweet vitamins, and the onsite espresso bar jump-starts brainwaves with handcrafted caffeine hits that ready minds for Jeopardy tournaments or memorizing the dictionary. Tinker's Rainforest Deli stocks catering trays with vegetables, sandwiches, or assorted meats and cheeses that can feed up to 35 partygoers.