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 Caesar's location, a then-unheard-of carryout-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 pie designed for instant pick-up, 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 its own charitable programs.
The culinary construction crew at Papa Murphy’s, the highest-ranking pizza chain in the 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey, builds a tasty menu of customizable Take 'N' Bake pizzas that patrons can heat up in the comforts of their own homes. Visitors watch as the chefs assemble thin- and stuffed-crust pizzas in-store using fresh dough, one of four sauces, shredded cheese, and up to 24 toppings. The pizza artisans then package the handmade creations for customers to bring home and cook in kitchen ovens, on backyard grills, or over an overheated car engine. Papa Murphy's collection of comestibles complements circular meals with sides of bread, salad, and chocolate-chip-cookie-dough dessert.:m]]
Zen Beri's nonfat, low-fat, and no-sugar-added frozen yogurt—in flavors such as cheesecake, dark chocolate, and blueberry tart—brims with certified live active cultures. Its self-serve machines bestow gobs of these sweet treats, as well as dairy-free sorbets, on bowls. Guests can then heap on more than 50 toppings, such as candies, fruits, and nuts, to customize their dessert creations. Staff members also skillfully craft tempting sundaes, smoothies, and coffee drinks from Zen Beri's signature frozen-treats menu, or a gourmet cupcake prepared daily in more than 10 flavors. They can also tightly pack quarts of take-home treats so that guests can indulge their sweet tooths during Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory marathons.
Fulin's Asian Cuisine is home to a diverse spread of Asian dishes, from Japanese sashimi to Thai curry. Still, the world's most populous country also populates much of the menu here. Traditional Chinese dishes include spicy kung pao shrimp and Szechuan eggplant?both fine choices, though you'll want to save some room for chef's specialties such as the savory boneless duck and zesty orange beef.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop?s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M?s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Vittone’s slings dough by the disk and noodles by the nest to Decatur and Huntsville-area residents, serenading Alabamian taste buds with traditional Italian fare. Hone dairy origami skills with a gooey cheese calzone ($4.58) or exact ocular revenge on the moon with a lunar eye-hitting pizza pie, such as the Benzina, mounded with meaty pepperoni, italian sausage, bacon, ham, hamburger, and shredded cheeses ($8.03 for a small or $17.22 for a large). The eternally changing dessert menu silences the shrieks of banshee sweet teeth, and garlic breadsticks ($2.30) provide the perfect weaponry for pretend sword fights.