Barry the Baker, the Bakery Nook’s proprietor, cultivated his professional skills at a university. He ran the bakery department at Lehigh University for 13 years—a mere fraction of his experience, which stretches as far back as the line at a particularly efficient DMV: more than 33 years. These days, he offers a traditional, local bakery experience complete with a variety of baked goods made fresh-to-order. He and his team prepare gourmet cupcakes in flavors such as lemon meringue, orange dreamsicle, and German chocolate. Barry and co. add a cavalcade of fresh pastries including turnovers, croissants, and scones. In addition to custom cake designs, they also gladly prepare cannoli, cheesecakes, and a large variety of pie flavors.
The confectionists at Louie's Bakery craft every cookie, cannoli, and cake from scratch, letting patrons consume them at home or inside their airy eatery. In the shop, cheesecakes and other baked delights are shielded by glass display cases to protect them from impulsive taste buds that hope to kidnap them. The shop also produces customized wedding and specialty cakes, which add a personal touch to one-of-a-kind life milestones.
Since opening in March 2013, Beyond Cakes has baked, iced, and added decorative touches to a rotating selection of cupcakes. Open daily at 7 a.m., the bakery pairs fresh-brewed coffee with pastries, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches. The shop recently incorporated sweet and savory miniature pies into its daily selection of baked goods including a tomato pie on weekends. Beyond Cakes also awards a free cupcake to over-achieving students who bring in an honor roll sticker.
Rice N Beans serves up traditional flavors of Latin America in a casual dining environment. Those flavors are seared into dishes such as quesadillas, empanadas, and arroz chaufas. Taste combinations are completed by sides such as plantains, guacamole, and fried yuca. They also offer vegetarian dishes such as tacos with rice and beans, chimichangas, and burritos.
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 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. They also reach out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
From a total of 12 shops on both sides of the Atlantic, Potomac Bead Company supplies the artistically inclined with everything they need to craft DIY accessories, ranging from the elegantly simple to the intricate and ornate. Beads, wiring, ribbons, and other materials are peddled wholesale, while regular jewelry-making classes educate first-timers, preventing them from accidentally crafting a magical Lasso of Truth instead of a necklace. Though the teachers recommend starting at the most basic level and working up, customers may attend any class, taking advantage of literally endless possibilities for personalized bangles, chokers, and earrings.