At Two Chefs Cafe & Catering, wait staff carries upscale twists on American traditions past the bar area to an expansive patio that’s surrounded by a picturesque wrought-iron fence. Inside, hosts lead diners to seats amid rustic brick walls and decorative wall pieces that organize bottles of French wine by their region. The kitchen staff makes classic cuisine from scratch for weekly events—such as the Friday fish fry and Sunday brunch—or intimate meals. They coat their six signature pasta dishes with one of five sauces and plate hearty helpings of canadian baby-back ribs. The cozy atmosphere grows more festive on weekends, when live music permeates the space and drowns out the play-by-play announcer in your head.
For 28 years, the staff at Christy's Pancake House have worked to replicate the laidback vibe of a meal at home amidst bubbling fish tanks and a wall sign that reads "Keep Your Kitchen Clean––Eat Out." In its turquoise booths, tables populate with warm breakfast pancakes, three-egg omelets, and full-pound burgers from the menu of hearty diner fare. Forks spool Italian-style alfredo pastas beside plates of steaming pork chops and amply stuffed greek gyros. While polishing off a piece of pie plucked from one of the glass display cases, guests can remind the server that it's their birthday for a sundae of choice on the house, or remind a significant other for an awkward meal of excuses and apologies.
La Blondina Bakery's confection-crafting owner, Agnieszka Klepacki, pleases palates of all persuasions with café-style lunches and delectable desserts. Tarts tickle tongue buds with a choice of blueberry, pear, or almond filling ($14 for 8”; $16 for 9”; $18 for 10”), and chocolate-chip cookies ($1.50) and cupcakes ($1.50) furnish guests with bite-sized snacks for bribing hyperactive children or bosses. In addition to sweets, the expert bakers handcraft artisan breads from scratch, filling the store with the alluring scent of french bread ($2.49) and beer bread ($2.49). Sandwiches quell more substantial appetites with toothsome toppings such as roasted veggies, turkey, and italian meats ($4.95).
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 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
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. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
Yogen Früz has an interesting answer for yogurt shops that simply top their swirls with fruit—they mix whole mangos, bananas, watermelon, and kiwis right in with the yogurt. These colorful, fresh creations boast low or no fat as well as a heaping helping of digestion-friendly probiotics and gluten-free goodness. Each flavor is crafted sans artificial flavorings, colors, gelatins, high-fructose corn syrups, or preservatives–all while maintaining gluten-free, kosher-certified status. Of course, customers of the shop—which has more than 1,300 locations in more than 35 countries—can still opt for a traditionally topped cup of yogurt or a früzion smoothie. The body bettering doesn’t stop there, as certain topping combinations from its signature früzion bar can even support cell membranes and veins, provide antacid and anti-inflammatory relief, or help prevent body aging, especially if bathed in.
Bakers at Cookies Fresco draw on Old-World recipes to craft creative, Italian-inspired confections from fresh eggs, nuts, sugar, and butter. Carefully selected packaging preserves the crisp crunch of cookies by the pound, including buttery biscotti and authentic peach, apricot, and nutella kolachky. Confectioners can also customize cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, and black-tie refrigerator warmings and concoct sugar-free items upon request.