As if the big-screen TVs, video games, and WiFi weren’t enough, now Stephen Harrell is on the lookout for a bounce house. It’s all part of his vision to make Nice Dreams Cafe a vibrant, welcoming place for young people to socialize. A lifelong resident of Raleigh, Stephen says he was alarmed by the absence of positive hangouts for kids in town. He hopes to fix that. “We don’t want it to just be grab-and-go here," he says. "We want people to be able to stay here and enjoy themselves.”
In keeping with the kid-friendly ambiance, servers scoop up achingly sweet confections such as Krispy Kreme donut sundaes, cake-batter ice cream, and toppings such as Snickers and gummy worms. Additionally, Stephen wants to further cement his café’s status as a community bastion by hosting frequent kid-friendly events and incorporating local ingredients into the menu. In the meantime, he has his eye on a few bounce houses.
After attending New York University's College of Dentistry, Dr. Michael Riccobene relocated to Selma, North Carolina where, in 2000, he founded the first Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry office. Since then, Dr. Riccobene has expanded his practice to seven other locations, with the newest office opened recently in Raleigh. To keep up with the demands of each office, Dr. Riccobene works alongside 18 other dentists whom he vets for their chairside manner as well as their dental experience: they must be patient, have a good sense of humor, and be as good at explaining procedures as they are at performing them.
Once on staff, each dentist aims to make every visit?from preventative exams to root canals and Invisalign fittings?comfortable and fear-free for the client. Riccobene's team also eases nerves by keeping wait times short, dispensing coffee from Starbucks machines in the lobby, and hanging a satellite TV in view of each treatment chair. Along with being an advocate for patients, Dr. Riccobene gives back to his community through various charitable organizations and sponsorships while participating in business expos.
Audiences often arrive an hour early to Laugh Out Loud’s comedy shows, lured in by the comedy club’s amiable staff, frequent visits by nationally renowned comics, and full dinner menu. Before the live acts step into the spotlight at 8 p.m., patrons can converse and watch scattered flat-screen TVs while dining on panini sandwiches, fresh-made Punchline Pizzas, and other casual fare. After dinner, audience members stay at their tables as the lights dim and the Laugh Out Loud stage is swarmed by daring and original joke tellers. Recent headliners have included Shaun Jones, known for his outrageous personal anecdotes, and Ron Feingold, whose musical comedy routine has recently slayed the club's audiences. Laugh Out Loud regularly schedules shows four nights a week, including the popular Wednesday night open mic, which showcases the fresh talent of amateur comedians and the soundman's admittedly unoriginal microphone check.