In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
If customers arrive at Mrs. A Cupcakes @ The Pickwick at the right time, they may meet the owner?s 5-year-old grandson, who greets them with a hello and an eager recitation of his favorite cupcakes. Mrs. A runs her namesake bakery along with her two youngest daughters, making it a true family-operated business. Each morning, they arrive bright and early to bake the day?s goods from scratch using fresh ingredients.
Although the bakers also make cookies and donuts, cupcakes are their specialty. Varieties change daily based on seasonal and available ingredients, such as the apple- pies and pumpkin- cream- cheese cupcakes they whip up in the fall. One mainstay, the red- velvet cupcake, is crafted using traditional Depression-era techniques, adding a smidge of cocoa to the batter and shredded stock certificates to the frosting. Other offerings echo the family?s Filipino heritage, such as the ube cupcake, made from purple yam, and the made-to-order buko- pandan cupcake, created from coconut meat, condensed milk, and the fragrant extract of pandan leaves.
Using recipes transported from her grandmother's rural kitchen, Baked by Betsy owner Betsy D'Attomo whips up fresh, homemade sweet breads and muffins, cakes and cupcakes, pies, cookies, and more. Like Ray Romano–shaped ice sculptures, Betsy's famous butter melts, bite-size cookies drizzled with powdered-sugar icing ($4 for a dozen), thaw when under the heat of a human tongue.
Made-from-scratch recipes and fresh organic ingredients have been setting The Original Pancake House apart from its breakfast-spot competition since 1953. That's when its owners established an all-day empire committed to ingredients such as pure hard-wheat unbleached flour and Kerrygold butter made from 100% grass-fed cow's milk.
Today, The Original Pancake House cooks across the country still construct scrambles and omelets from fresh Grade AA organic eggs. Powdered sugar lines the rims of oven-baked Dutch baby pancakes, and granny-smith apples simmer in oven-baked pancakes (two of more than a dozen styles of pancake on the menu). Even the toppings are made in-house, including whipped cream, specialty syrups, and sauces. To complement these flavors, staff fill cups with fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juices and coffee blended specially to match the Original Pancake House's menu and upholstery. Although each location takes on the local charm of its surrounding city, all of them share in common a homey atmosphere that welcomes families with perks such as color-in place mats and kids' menus.
The Original Pancake House is open for breakfast, lunch, as well as brunch. The savory side of the menu holds an array of gluten-free and healthy lunch options such as 100% grass-fed meat products from nationally known Chicago news journalist Bill Kurtis' Tallgrass Beef company.
With more than 50 years under its belt, Minelli Meat and Deli constructs hearty sandwiches and complements savory bites with traditional Italian pastries for dessert. The deli counter flaunts large helpings of italian sausage ($3.79/lb.) and italian roast beef ($8.99/lb.) for patrons to take home and share with their families and displaced sasquatches. A fresh meatball sandwich ($5.50) harmonizes well with homemade soup ($2.99). Sub sandwiches can be stuffed with specialty prosciutto, genoa salami, corned beef, and various sliced cheeses (5" for $4). Homespun sweets such as cannoli, cream puffs, and cookies adequately prep sugar testers for midnight chess battles with the Sugar Plum Fairy ($1.50+).
The display cases at Le Sucre Cakes & Cupcakes are laden with sugary confections fit for any occasion. Going above and beyond the standard birthday cake, the bakers create frosted works of art made of mocha chiffon, chocolate mousse, and airy cheesecake. Their cupcakes can be ordered individually or by the half or full dozen, and come in flavors such as red velvet, salted caramel, and carrot cake. These diminutive pastries can be elevated to the stature of wedding dessert or be simply enjoyed as a consolation prize after a bad first date.