Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.
Cooks at Pita Plus Sandwich Grill wake up early every morning to grill steak, roast turkey, slice fresh hand-selected vegetables, and boil stockpots to prep for the day. Drawing on family recipes and classic sauces from the former Jimmy’s Lemon Tree restaurants, the cooks slice roasted, unprocessed gyros and stack cranberry-turkey sandwiches with swiss cheese, house-made berry spread, and bacon just like they would in their secret kitchens.
Sixty-four tables populate Shooters' 22,000-square-foot billiardland. Some are Valley and Diamond coin-operated tables, and others are Brunswick Gold Crown tables designed for professional play, with flawless felt and wood that welcomes elbows like the moon welcomes a handsome astronaut. Observe the physics of a well-played bank shot from the ample seating surrounding each table. Shooters' rates are hourly and depend on the number of people at a table. Before 7 p.m., one to four players play for $3.75 an hour per person; after 7 p.m., hourly rates are $5.25 for one player, $4.75 for two players, $4.25 for three players, and $3.75 for four players. On weekends after 8 p.m., rates rise an additional $0.25 per hour.
bd's Mongolian Grill combines do-it-yourself dining with the communal experience of collaboratively yanking out a giant radish that’s blocking the town's water supply. Guests can create their own stir-fry meal in one bowl for lunch ($7.99 for vegetarian, $8.99 for meat and seafood, $9.99 for stir-fry with soup and salad, and $12.99 for unlimited stir-fry with soup and salad) or dinner ($10.99 for vegetarian, $12.99 for meat and seafood, and $14.99 for unlimited stir-fry; all stir-fry dinners include complimentary access to the soup and salad bar). Choose from myriad meats, a variety of vegetables, a smorgasbord of sauces, and a slew of spices. Pair chicken with bean sprouts and pineapple in a stir-fry you'll deem the "Chicken with Bean Sprouts and Pineapple," or combine calamari with egg, peppers, peanut sauce, and chili powder for a meal you'll name after yourself—the "Peter Fonda." With ingredients assembled, guests will pass their stir-fry bowls on to bd's Mongolian Grill's expert grillers, who will give the appetizing assortment a trial by fire on the restaurant's large, flat grill. After the sustenance ceases to sizzle, diners are free to take their customized cuisine back to the table, where they can determine their prowess in patchworking together palate-pleasers and inflating their own egos with compliments to themselves.
In 1993, a few entrepreneurs transformed the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building into an Italian restaurant. It became the first Buca di Beppo. The owners of that inaugural location soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 99 locations nationwide, from downtown San Francisco to Times Square, New York.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, adding only a few American twists. They also supply family-style servings, which help make Buca di Beppo a favorite place for families and friends to gather in large, hungry groups. The chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. For entrées, they prepare dishes with an eye toward quantity, both of portion and choice; they whip up Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. Their Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and their Colossal Brownie Sundae towers with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.
More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half-century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.