Chef Geroy Rachel honed his skills at L'École culinaire in Memphis before opening Royal Flavors, a food truck specializing in smoky barbecued meats. Inside the mobile kitchen, he wraps bacon around chicken legs, flavors pork riblets with a dry rub, and smokes beef burgers to serve on butter buns with provolone cheese and pickles. Smoked cabbage salad or turnip greens with smoked pork round out meals, and slices of caramel cake or strawberry shortcake provide a sweet finish. Diners can take their food to go or eat beside the food truck, where picnic chairs surround a flat screen television.
Like plate spinners at the circus, parents constantly race among multiple potential catastrophes. Brandy Marek, herself a mother of twin boys, established Take A Break to give parents time off from this endless balancing act and allow them to focus on their own neglected interests. Guardians unleash pent-up conversation with their grown-up peers over sandwiches and salads washed down with coffee as occasional gleeful shrieks drift to their ears from the playroom, where charges cavort under the watchful eye of Take A Break's staff. As parents take advantage of the alone time and wireless Internet to work, read, or research, kids build fortresses with blocks, assemble puzzles, and tear through a playhouse. With the jingling strains of kid-friendly music playing softly in the background, adults may reserve the café's conference room for meetings with clients, study-group sessions, or to practice setting up a new air mattress.
L’Oven Cupcakes showcases daily cupcake offerings behind large panes of glass atop a counter decorated with even more cupcakes. Each day, confectioners prepare fresh batches of the gourmet cakes, ranging from the Celebration cupcake—a white and chocolate cake swirled with white buttercream frosting and topped with sprinkles or M&M’s—to the Elvis, a banana nut cake with peanut butter frosting and a banana chip garnish. Though L'Oven Cupcakes offers a regular schedule of specialty cupcakes each day, they sometimes temporarily alter the menu when particular cakes sell out, like the Wedding Bells flavor after the cable company fills every channel with a week-long marathon of rom coms.
Owner Kathy Gentry once relied on baking to console her during marathon studying sessions in college. Years later, Gentry has built a booming business devoted to celebrating cake’s charms. Staff guide budding and seasoned pastry chefs alike toward cake tools and instructors curate a packed schedule of courses that cover everything from finessing fondant to freeing trapped clowns from giant cakes. The chefs even film a hugely popular YouTube video series in which they meticulously guide bakers on sugar-laced odysseys.
Tinkerbell dolls, sugar-spun Prada shoes, baby booties, and toy cars: these are just a few of the adornments that perch atop the custom-made confections at Mad Lily Cakery. A staff of baking gurus creates a kaleidoscope of desserts from flavors such as chocolate amaretto and red velvet, yielding both traditional circular cakes as well as ones shaped like sharks, sports jerseys, or bubblegum machines. For smaller bites, fluffy dollops of frosting crown cupcakes, cookies, and a variety of premade treats.
The Pie Folks' talented bakers adorn crusts with 20 made-from-scratch fillings, scoring awards at the National Pie Championships and catching the eye of Good Morning America. Gallop to the shop for a slice of pie ($3.99) from the menu and stuff cheeks with slivers of the prizewinning Slap Yo Mama chocolate pie or try to wedge the Moonshiner’s bourbon filling into a flask. Unlike munching a photo of a brownie, mouthfuls of sugar-free chocolate cupcakes ($1.99 each) keep spirits high and glucose levels low. Lunchtime guests can fuel up with a chicken salad sandwich or tuna salad sandwich ($5.99 each) and end meals with red-velvet cupcakes ($1.69 each).