From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
Brick columns topped with ivory triangles ascend over the Greensboro Scoop Shop's sprawling outdoor patio, a spread the eponymous Ben and Jerry could never have imagined when they slung their first scoop from a ramshackle gas station in 1978. Although renowned for flagship flavors such as Chunky Monkey and chocolate fudge brownie, Ben & Jerry's vaulted itself into the upper echelon of ice cream with playful, candy-studded concoctions named after celebrities, such as Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, and Jerry Garcia. Velvety scoops can be reimagined as ice-cream cakes or drizzled in fudge and nuts to forge towering sundaes that patrons can chase with strawberry-cheesecake milkshakes, an ideal treat for those born with a straw proboscis.
Taste Yogurt Bar's 10 self-serve frozen-yogurt dispensers dish out low- and nonfat treats from a rotating lineup of flavors. With its active cultures, which can aid the immune system, frozen yogurt is a calcium-rich, healthy alternative to ice cream. Taste's 10 stations include tarts and sorbets, and guests can blend flavors such as cookies and cream, sea salt caramel pretzel, and moon pie in any combination they like. After the yogurt decisions have been made, it's all about the toppings: there are more than 60 options for fresh fruits, candy, and cereals, the same number of senators needed to break a filibuster—which might just be a senator eating fro-yo at the podium.
At The Secret Tea Room, 30-year restaurant veteran John L. Magee and his family of chefs, bakers, and waiters serve gourmet lunch fare and elegant Queen’s teas. On tabletops, pots of Jasmine Fanning green teas, peppermint herbal teas, or any selection of their 24 varieties of fresh look leaf teas imported from around the world rest beside bone china and three-tiered trays of sandwiches and English-style scones. The café’s specialty Crab Cake YaYa, served with fried green tomatoes, napa-cabbage-green-apple-bacon slaw, and housemade rémoulade sauce, headlines a menu of salads and sandwiches. In addition to its parties and luncheons for adults, The Secret Tea Room hosts tea parties for 4- to 8-year-olds, featuring kid-size servings and teacups that transform into robots.
Within the bright, modern shop marked by a kaleidoscopic neon stripe, patrons decorate each dish of fresh frozen yogurt with a collage of eclectic toppings. The frozen treat is available in eight daily rotating flavors, and desserters can load up on layered combination of yogurts or stick to monochrome fro-yo in its original flavor. To garnish the uncharted summits of yogurt precipices, patrons explore the toppings bar, which boasts a spread of edible ornaments such as Andes mints, brownies, and fresh fruits. The staff ensures all fruit is as fresh as possible by slicing it daily and prepping it with a neon hoodie and dope sunglasses.
For more than 75 years, Carvel Ice Cream has been perfecting the art of generating smiles by handing out hand-dipped soft-serve and frosted ice-cream cakes. Ice cream resides in a number of homes, from a standard cup or cone ($1.79–$4.84 each) to a drink-size receptacle with a thick shake ($3.39–$4.70).