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.
Great American Bagel Burr Ridge's family-owned bakery doles out dozens of its fresh-made dough discs from its brand-new location. Each bagel is mixed from scratch and steam-baked every day for maximum chewiness. The ring bearers also offer catering services, with platters for business meetings and wedding cakes made entirely from bagels slathered in cream cheese.
Every day at more than 770 locations, Jamba Juice proves that good nutrition can be both convenient and delicious. Since the beginning, the company has based its philosophy on choosing whole fruits and all-natural ingredients over artificial flavorings and preservatives. The menu is completely free of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats, and it makes additional accommodations for vegan and gluten-free diets.
Although Jamba Juice is serious about using wholesome ingredients, the company is a little more playful when it comes to the palate. Whole fruits and veggies can be blended into an extensive menu of great-tasting smoothies and freshly squeezed juices. But Jamba Juice’s commitment to keeping healthy eating simple informs its solid-food options, too. Customers can kick-start their morning with a steaming bowl of slow-cooked, steel-cut oatmeal, or stay energized throughout the day with six varieties of Energy Bowls: nutrient-rich blends of whole fruit, Greek yogurt or soy milk, and an assortment of dry toppings and fresh fruits.
In addition to nourishing and energizing the human body, Jamba Juice fights childhood obesity by sponsoring Team Up for a Healthy America. The initiative encourages fans to join the Team Up community of celebrities, athletes and other leaders committed to getting kids active—which they can do by visiting the main Jamba Juice website.
In the kitchens of Blueberry Hill's five suburban outposts, cooks forgo lazy morning lounging to pull together homey assortments of timeless brunch fare. Pancakes infused with fruit or sweets are made from scratch, much like hand-knitted socks or hand-painted report cards. French-toast slices get stuffed with apple and cream cheese, smothered in fruit, or rolled in Cap'n Crunch. Fresh meats and veggies take cover under eggs in savory skillets, and a selection of sandwiches quells cravings in handheld form.
The gas-filled, sky-faring vessels known as zeppelins captured the imaginations of engineers, artists, and storytellers around the world. They also less famously inspired Lithuanian dumpling masters, who borrowed the vehicle's name for their meat-filled creations. While the aircraft landed permanently because of their impractical nature, their culinary counterparts took off, creating an iconic local cuisine. Old Vilnius Cafe's chefs import the recipes for these golden delicacies, expanding American palates with staple Eastern European flavors. They also treat visitors to a huge array of dishes from across Poland, Lithuania, and Russia, pan-frying potato pancakes and boiling vats of hot beet stew. The intrepid explorer of their vast menu even can find beef tongue hidden among their specials, which they can pair with cool Lithuanian beer poured directly into the mouth from a comrade’s hands.
After a meal, guests can visit the souvenir shop, which features books, music, and crafts from the proprietors' native lands. There, they'll also find glittering bits of Baltic amber, the former tree sap turned jewel prized for its rich color.
Juicy-O Pancake House’s kitchen serves up an inexhaustible menu of breakfast and lunch fare ranging from syrup-slathered flapjacks to savory egg specials. Named for its fruit juices, which run the gamut from classic orange to exotic pomegranate, Juicy-O also prides itself on its donuts, which are crafted from a secret house recipe and "fried before your eyes on a little donut maker,” according to ABC Chicago’s Steve Dolinsky.
Juicy-O’s locations each exude cheerful vibes, with dining rooms that are flooded with natural light and walls that are covered in framed anecdotes, such as, “Every family tree always produces nuts!” and “Time is money! Stop reading these stupid signs!”