On the shores of Lake Norman, diners relax with craft cocktails and martinis, dining on feasts of steak sandwiches, pan-seared trout, and small plates of wings and fish tacos. The bill of fare combines homey Southern cuisine with upscale gastropub presentation and cookery, quelling hunger pangs with dishes such as Low Country shrimp and grits with parmesan reduction and tricolored bell peppers, bourbon bread pudding, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf with tomato jam.
Live music permeates Summit Coffee’s 110-year-old building at least three nights per week, enhancing the space’s already artistic and eclectic vibe. Day and night, patrons ranging from neighbors and artists to professors and students settle inside the warm-and-welcoming café bar to throw back pints of IPA brews or piping-hot mugs of organic coffee and lattes. Friendly baristas and bar mates pair beverages with decadent sweets, including flaky croissants and giant slices of rich chocolate cake. As a neighborhood spot, Summit cherishes its community and is dedicated to giving back. It has raised more than $100,000 and a handful of Monopoly money over the years thanks to events such as its 8K race.
Rocky River Coffee Company's signature drink blends ice cream and coffee for a sweet pick-me-up. In addition to this, customers stop in for a range of coffee, all made with gourmet beans roasted and packaged locally. These drinks complement a range of sandwiches and pastries, including bagels brought in straight from New York.
When HoneyBaked Ham was just a single shop in Michigan more than 40 years ago, it was run under the careful eye of its founder, Harry J. Hoenselaar. He handpicked every bone-in ham that he was going to sell in stores and carefully cured each in a secret marinade recipe. He then slow-smoked the ham over a custom blend of wood chips. Hoenselaar even built and patented a machine that spiral-cut the meat into almost perfectly even slices and re-creations of M.A.S.H. characters. But what really stuck with people was his glaze—a proprietary recipe that encased each ham with a sweet, crunchy finish.
Though Harry's shop has since grown into a nationally recognized brand with more than 400 stores, that attention to detail hasn’t been lost. His grandchildren now oversee the company, and they have maintained that same process of hand-selecting hams and smoking them for up to 24 hours before they’re spiral-cut and glazed. Many of the stores also have a cafe-style counter, where patrons can pick up fresh sandwiches layered with roast beef, smoked turkey breast, chicken salad, and of course, honey-glazed ham.
The chalkboard above the counter at Carm's Cafe teems with descriptions of savory paninis, tasty soups, and wraps stuffed with roasted red peppers and fresh veggies. The cafe serves locally-roasted S&D coffee to sip between bites of desserts such as homemade cheesecake.
When their daughter, Kai, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Tracy and Patrick Watkins knew they needed to provide her with as much love and care as possible. They quit their jobs as engineers and launched a bakery named after their little girl and her favorite treats. In the kitchen at Kai’s Kookies and More, the couple ices custom sugar cookies by hand, transforming circles into edible basketballs and rectangles into festive American flags, all of which can be dipped into house-brewed coffee or bundled into baskets, boxes, or bouquets. Sweeter than a kiss from Cap’n Crunch, mangoes and strawberries fill several varieties of cupcakes and 3-inch cheesecakes.
In addition to packing their display case with handcrafted confections, Tracy and Patrick supply desserts to eight local restaurants and four Monkey Joe's bounce playgrounds. Visitors can also book Kai's for special events such as tea parties and international summits disguised as children's birthday bashes.