The Brown Barn Café is homey inside and out, from its wooden walls and house-life façade to its open kitchen filled with family recipes. Owners Bryant Belknap and John Costello, friends for more than 35 years, make foods they know and love, including Jack's lemonade—a recipe John Costello's son Jack devised when he was 10 years old. The internationally influenced menu also includes samosa pies and Vietnamese-style coffee, as well as café favorites such as tuna salad and quiche. And for dessert, the café sources fresh-made treats from Ah! Some Chocolates, which tack a sweet ending onto meals.
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.
When the original Philly Soft Pretzel Factory location had a line out the door, its founders knew they had a hit on their hands. That was in 1998; today, over 100 franchise locations serve their special-recipe soft pretzels. Each chewy treat is hand twisted, baked fresh, and served hot from the oven into the customer's waiting hands, or mouth if they're really hungry. Pretzels can be topped with traditional salt, or spiced up with garlic or sesame seeds, while a selection of dipping sauces ranging from cheddar cheese to sweet chocolate provide layers of dunking flavor. And for those who prefer their baked goods meaty, dough-wrapped dogs and cheesesteak-filled pretzels are available.
Importing seafood from across the world, the fanciful fishmongers at Adelphia outfit a nautical menagerie of fresh fish species($6–$20/pound), plus lobster, shrimp, and crab, as well as in-house salads and dips. Although prices and selection fluctuate with worldwide availability and narwhal whims, recent featured fish include encrusted corvina, wild haddock, and fresh swordfish steaks. Search for invisible pearls of wisdom in a batch of 100 topneck clams, or partake in protein-enriched appetizers with bacon-wrapped scallops. Adelphia's saltwater wundercooks also dish out fresh soups, such as Maryland crab ($3.09/14 oz.), as well as a peloton of gold-label dips in flavors such as shrimp, lobster, Cajun Krab ($2.99/7 oz., subject to market fluctuation), and the Ahab-appeasing White Whale Worchester.
The Nutty Pear whips up an eclectic menu of traditional cuisine in a casual setting that boasts an expansive outdoor patio. Famished patrons can plunk down a seat and slay their invisible hunger-dragons with a hearty portion of chow such as the New York strip steak topped with blue cheese ($22.95) and the chicken carbonara covered with onions, mushrooms, bacon, and served with linguini alfredo ($15.95). Seafood devotees or disguised orcas wearing trench coats can nosh on the Cajun shrimp coupled with linguini alfredo ($19.95) and the baked salmon soaked in dijon caper sauce and sided with potatoes ($18.95). Vegetarian customers can get their fill of chlorophyll with the baked eggplant meshed with fresh tomatoes and basil and sprinkled with parmesan cheese ($12.95). To add a layer of melody to the meal, The Nutty Pear occasionally showcases live acts including steel guitar blues artists, jazz musicians, and robots belting out karaoke favorites.
There's no hurry at Uncle Buck's BBQ. The chefs slow-cook and smoke meats such as ribs, brisket, and chicken, imbuing each plate with a tenderness that can't be rushed. Even the Old World-style pizzas have to bake inside a traditional brick oven long enough for the cheese to melt over and around the assorted toppings, such as pulled pork, sweet peppers, and garlic. Sub sandwiches and hamburgers, wings tossed in one of four sauces, and hefty steaks round out the menu of neighborhood-style American cuisine.
With its wood-paneled wainscoting and robin's-egg blue walls, the restaurant's dining area embraces the same casual, down-home charm as the menu. Outside, a wooden patio seats diners beneath an aluminum roof that provides better sun protection than a parasol slathered with sunscreen.
The night after John Chacko, a hardworking man about to realize his dream, purchased the Jimmy's Central Lanes bowling alley, a roiling flood ripped over the banks of the Susquehanna River and destroyed the site. As a solitary man standing amid the wreckage, it would have been easy to walk away, but that wasn't his style. Instead, he rolled up his sleeves, ripped down the walls, and pulled up the floors. Not even a nail could be salvaged, but his love for the alley was still fully intact.
Today, it's hard to believe Chacko's was once under water. New lanes run as far as the eye can see, marked by fluorescent purples and blues, and a Memory Lane Lounge offers respite with draft beer and flat-screen TVs. But Dan Chacko still remembers the deluge. Bowling-alley patrons can stop into his pro shop and pick his brain about that breathtaking flood, or they can seek his advice on bowling-related matters such as how to pick up a split or how to match your wardrobe to your bowling shoes.