"A computer can't understand a handshake," says Jack Schwindler, explaining why he retired after 32 years as a food broker. He missed the face-to-face aspect of the business, which diminished as technology swiftly advanced. So when he and his wife found a defunct marina on Lake Lotawana, where Jack spent his childhood, he found his calling. In 1993, Jack and his wife opened Marina Grog & Galley, and now, Jack says, "I'm shaking hands again."
Marina Grog and Galley is run by a tight-knit crew of longtime employees, including servers who have worked there since 1996. Their menu boasts dry-aged steaks from a local purveyor and fresh fish flown in from Hawaii three times a week. The smell of steaks searing over mesquite charcoal drifts out to the front driveway, creating an aroma that attracts passersby and envious traveling steak peddlers. Other specialties include baby-back ribs crafted from a recipe Jack penned when he was 21 years old, and a range of fried, boiled, and stuffed shrimp.
Every night, Jack visits with guests at the tables arranged around the dining room, which look out at the lake or a 1,500-gallon saltwater tank that houses a 48-foot living reef. Leather seats in cobalt blue comfort backs, and stone fireplaces warm the stone walls and light wood around the restaurant. Outdoor tables along the water seat up to 150 people, and on-deck fireplaces keep diners comfortable. "Something happens every night in the restaurant business," says Jack, and he doesn't want to miss a minute of it.
Planet Sub sidesteps the flavorless land mines of days-old bread, opting for filling-packed subs and sandwiched meaty delights. The menu may differ slightly between the two locations, but omnipresent signature subs cross state lines to sate hungering masses, such as the bacon-bolstered mega roast beef ($4.69/$7.29 ) and the Planet BBQ, a saucy concoction stacked with ham, turkey, and roast beef ($3.99/$6.99 ). Vegetarian options abound, so meat abstainers can try the spicy cheese sub ($4.49/$6.99 ) or the pesto bello ($4.99/$7.19), which is loaded with portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and a tomato-garlic pesto as smooth and suave as an Italian R&B crooner.
Greg Beitling refused to stay idle while Americans' lifespans shortened due to obesity-related diseases. Instead, he founded Lit Fitness to help the community retool its approach to eating and exercise. The studio specializes in what they call Large Group Training, or LGT, which challenges students to intense regimens of calisthenics, weightlifting, and short bursts of cardio. Beitling draws upon certifications in personal training and strength-and-conditioning instruction to build workouts that maximize calorie burning and increase lean-muscle mass to help jump-start metabolisms. In addition to increasing their strength, endurance, energy, and flexibility, participants can win prizes such as cash and skinny jeans by tackling the goals they set along the way. Like a trip to the beach with a very modest mermaid, each camp lasts about 50 minutes and requires an ample supply of water and towels. Many of the studio's programs also include nutritional components, which range from healthy-eating workshops to meetings with a dietitian.
Scuba enthusiast Jennifer Feller's unconditional love for underwater sightseeing and pruney fingers constantly prompts her to explore the depths of aqueous avenues far and wide. As an IDC-trained PADI instructor and volunteer search-and-rescue diver, she teaches first responders the indispensable skills needed for effective public-safety diving. At The Playground Dive Shop, Feller's very own scuba emporium, her knowledgeable staff, which includes a retired Navy submariner, unveils a collection of the latest diving gear and repairs broken or faulty equipment. They also empower visitors to take their own watery plunges during a variety of scuba-diving courses, which teach participants the basics of underwater breathing, the techniques needed to earn an open-water certification, and underwater photography tips––such as making sure you snap multiple pictures, just in case a fish blinks.
Clothes and furniture find new life at Red Racks Thrift Stores. Through donations, the staffers at the store's 13 locations fill their racks and shelves with thousands of second-hand items for kids and adults, including name-brand garments from the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s, The Loft, and Donna Karan New York. They also stock furniture and other miscellaneous goods, such as books and home décor.
And something odd happens when these items arrive at checkout—the register doesn't ring up any sales tax. That's because Red Racks is a nonprofit organization, and all proceeds go to benefit the Disabled American Veterans, an organization that has advocated on behalf of veterans for more than nine decades. Red Racks' altruistic mission has proved successful so far—the inventory of each store typically turns over every 3–4 weeks.
Ibex Climbing Gym's 8,000-square-foot indoor facility is home to dozens of routes for all climbing skill levels. From clinging to overhangs or slowly trudging up slabs, climbers can hone their gripping skills with lead or top-rope climbing sessions. On a second-floor loft, bouldering challenges await rope-free climbers, with crash pads on the ground to soften falls and hundreds of multicolored holds offering varying routes. Ibex team members lead classes for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, and also offer youth summer camps and recreational and competitive climbing teams. A wide variety of gear is available to equip students for climbing inside or outside of the gym. Prior to any rope climbing in the gym, beginners must undergo a belay class that teaches the fundamentals of belay safety, proper terminology, and the preclimb lasso dancing required for good luck.