Gene Estes suspects that growing up in the "dry" precinct of Abilene, Texas, may have inspired his alcohol-based ingenuity; he crafted his first batch of wine from Concord grape juice when he was just 23. Years later, after holding various pharmaceutical jobs and putting to use his Masters in Microbiology, Estes's interest in wine re-emerged with a full and passionate force. Today, as the president and vintner of Lost Oak Winery, Gene works alongside resident winemaker Jim Evans to craft a host of award-winning wines. Among them is the 2012 Viognier, which scored a double gold in the renowned San Francisco Chronicle International Wine competition?meaning all five judges awarded the varietal with top scores before gilding the bottle twice in molten gold.
The winery itself offers both guided and self-guided tours, offering visitors a glimpse into the wine-making process complete with samples straight from oak barrels. Additionally, special events draw guests to the lush grounds for live music, wine club events, and the pre-Christmas holiday open house, where they can place preemptive wine orders with Santa.
Between graduating from beauty school and earning certifications in Lanza, Schwarzkopf, and the Coppola Keratin-Smoothing system, stylist Adrianne Lowes somehow managed to get two businesses off the ground. Her superhuman work ethic eventually led her to start a third business, The Ritz Salon and Spa, which has grown from her passion project into Burleson’s go-to spot for professional styling and relaxation.
For evidence of Adrianne’s dedication to the interrelated arts of beauty and health, one need not look further than The Ritz’s lengthy list of services, which range from the salon’s hair and waxing treatments to the spa’s facials and massages. The spa even boasts a therapy center, where resident chiropractor Dr. Don Haygood heals aching muscles with chiropractic, med-spa, and acupuncture treatments. Along with its beauty and health services, The Ritz houses a chic fashion boutique, where visitors can search for a cute outfit to complement their newly cropped hair or freshly scrubbed face tattoos.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers 4 months old?12 years old with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents magazine.
Like many Texan women, Lacy Studdard and Jessica Woerner love big hair. Regular clients at The Bungalow, however, will attest that their styling interests extend beyond voluminous ‘dos. By complementing their cuts with dashes of ruby-red lipstick and quirky hair ornaments, the salon's co-owners create styles that they describe as “fun, funky, and relaxed.” Though the salon's vintage turquoise walls and hood dryers evoke a bygone era, Keratin Complex smoothing treatments and Cinderella hair extensions prove that the menu of services resides on the cutting edge of fashion.
In The Bungalow's spa, aesthetician Leigh Moody draws on Bioelements products to perform facials that can be customized with microdermabrasion treatments and collagen lip masks. She can also expertly apply Xtreme lash extensions, which replicate real lashes in their thickness and ability to protect eyes from the government's brainwashing radio waves.
Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
For the majority of the '70s, according to local folklore, bassist Ferocious Ambush toured America with his southern rock band, Country Thunder. In 1978, he hung up his bass in pursuit of a more "honest living." He shied away from the public eye until 1980, when he kicked off a North Texan tour with the Ferocious Ambush Chili Cookers. Instead of music, however, the Chili Cookers served up hearty bowls of red during regional and international cook-offs, winning over the crowds as much for their simmering spices as their singing and dancing.
Twenty-four years later, the Chili Cookers found a permanent home for their two loves—music and good food—when they opened Ambush Grill and Bar. Their chefs marry old-fashioned southern eats with southwestern and Mexican flavors, serving up a hearty menu that keeps the Chili Cooker's legendary recipes alive. The famous chili flows into bowls, over burgers, and beneath corn chips in chili pie. A Li'l Pardner's menu is also available to fill kid-sized stomachs and lonesome thimbles with smaller portions of pub fare.