As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
Papa's Fresh Foods serenades sweet cravings with a plethora of freshly ovened cupcakes. Like a Chia Pet on its first birthday, single servings of cakey bliss wear slatherings of homemade frosting, from the chocolate overload⎯a chocolate butter cake topped with rich chocolate butter cream and shavings⎯to the tangy key lime, decked out in a tasteful chapeau of cream-cheese frosting. In addition to classic flavors, a variety of less-common fluff fills Papa's cupcakes, breaking tradition in a more edible way than letting the baby carve the Thanksgiving turkey. The peanut-butter butter cream, jelly, and fresh-ground nuts of the peanut-butter-and-jelly cupcake provides a sweet upgrade to the lunch-pail standby, and chocolate ganache outfits the frosting-filled Hostess with the mostess.
The dedicated butchers at Prime Choice Market have plied their meaty trade for over 20 years, coaxing delectable primal cuts and slices from top-quality meats. Mouthwatering new york strip steaks ($21.99/lb.) lounge in an edible aura of East Coast swank, and tasty baby back ribs ($6.99/lb.) regale diners with non-nonsense deliciousness. A palatable selection of Boar’s Head deli meats resides behind the old-school display counter, proffering tasty cuts of Ovengold turkey breast ($9.99/lb.) and savory slivers of deluxe ham ($9.49/lb.) for scarf-worthy sandwiches or bookmarks.
To Jaime Flores, tamales represent two of the world's finest simple pleasures: eating and unwrapping presents. At Tamale Hut Café, he and his staff hand-wrap each tamale with a double layer of corn husks, then steam-cook them to seal in flavor. Jaime derives his methods and his choice of fillings—pork, chicken, pinto beans, and even crab meat with jalapeños—from his aunt and uncle, who taught him how to prep the portable delights in addition to other Mexican foods. He attests that his tamales are appropriate for any mealtime, and even sells steamer pots so that visitors can reheat their leftovers without using a microwave or rubbing them until friction kicks in. The quaint café is a venue for both sitting down for a snack and appreciating local culture. Beneath bulbs that glow inside of hanging tequila bottles, paintings and photographs by local artists draw the eye, and regular readings by visiting authors entertain audiences. To offset the savory bites of tamales, meatball soup, and gourmet salsas, guests can order drinks or seasonal paletas—Mexican fruit popsicles. Sweet tamales tinged with the taste of pineapple, blueberry, and coconut are another creative dessert option.
The Chef Du Jour provides catering/event planning, cooking classes, and personal chef services. A Le Cordon Bleu graduate, Chef Rita will provide you with mouth-watering food, or teach you the skills to do it yourself through interactive classes.
In Jimmy's Place's kitchen, chefs cook chicken vesuvio in a finely-tuned blend of olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasonings. According to a December 2011 article in the Forest Park Review, this signature dish is a favorite of Food Network star Jeff Mauro, who featured it on his show Sandwich King. The crispy Italian-American meal uses a recipe passed down through owner Jim Jodoin's family?as does the rest of the menu. Years of culinary tradition are written into the homemade marinara sauce that blankets the restaurant's chicken parmesan, the meat that stuffs its homemade ravioli, and the weighty toppings that keep its pizzas from floating up to the ceiling.
Out in the dining room, these meals pair with a distinctly local atmosphere?newspaper clippings and photos of customers line the walls, and bartenders pour drinks at a full bar as flat screen TVs beam in sports.