Orbs of freshly made dough chug along the lustrous metallic conveyor belts of Marquez Bakery and Tortilla Factory's enormous tortilla-making mechanism, polka-dotting the chainlink pathways as they're flattened, baked, and morphed into the eatery's trademark fare. The chefs at the family bakery load the disks with traditional Mexican meats, such as chorizo and chicharrón, by hand, whisper "goodbye" to each morsel, and send them off to catered events or the onsite restaurant. They also sate sweet teeth with meticulously constructed custom cakes, harking back to founder Jose Marquez's legacy of selling donuts, pies, and sweet bread from his own home.
A complex chorus rises from a crowd, drifting onto the patio of J Millan’s. The sound comes either from the nearby Cowboys Stadium or Rangers Ballpark, or from televisions inside the bar. At tables on the patio, conversation centers around burgers, enchiladas, and grilled shrimp, and glasses clink together with the gentle jangle of Robocop trying to get out of a sedan.
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To reach their table at Spaghetti Warehouse, guests commonly have to step through two doors: the front door of the restaurant and the door of the antique trolley parked inside. Since its inception in 1972, the Italian eatery has merged the functions of kitchen and museum. Artifacts such as grandfather clocks, factory flywheels, and circus billboards surround diners as they delve into signature plates of 15-Layer Lasagna or hand-rolled meatballs. Apart from the items they've amassed, each of the buildings also has a particular history, from the one-time ice-manufacturing plant in Columbus to Memphis's Civil War munitions depot. Given their storied pasts, it's no surprise that several of these venues house their own ghosts—at Houston's warehouse, for example, elevator lights have been known to flicker, objects are mysteriously found in new locations, and a lady in a white gown is said to roam the restaurant.
Yet the main attraction of the place is the delicious food. Like any great Italian meal, made-from-scratch dishes are created from family recipes passed down for generations via email. Guests devour the perfectly al dente pasta, crispy calamari, bottomless soups, and 12-layer chocolate cakes while dining with family and friends. It’s that feeling of togetherness that people love about Spaghetti Warehouse, a feeling that is only enhanced when the drinks start flowing and the air is punctuated by the sounds of laughter as kids play retro games, such as The Claw prize-grabbing machine.
Jumping J's Bounce World lets kids defy gravity—if only for a few seconds. Its crew delivers bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses directly to homes, where children can spend a handful of exciting hours bounding over the air-filled structures. The bounce houses come in themes such as SpongeBob and Spiderman, who like all spiders, is filled with nothing but air. To add the finishing touches to parties, Jumping J's can also bring along popcorn, snow-cone, and cotton-candy machines.
"Photo booths are definitely in and very popular," according to Aaron, the owner of Majestic Photo-Booth Rentals. At his wife's annual Christmas party, the line for the photo booth often runs 10 people deep. But thanks to his unusually spacious booths—which accommodate exactly 10 people—the line moves quickly, and the brief layover supplies a chance to peruse the prop kit.
After putting on feather boas or oversized sunglasses, guests assemble around a 23-inch touch screen, choose color or black-and-white, and pose for three frames. No more than 10 seconds later, two photo strips emerge from the printer. Guests also may record a 30-second video, which makes the booths "very popular for weddings." Much like a voting booth, the mini photo studio is supervised by one or two attendants who hum “This Land is Your Land” to keep the mood light.