Mary Kathleen Kelley-Hammond never thought she’d run her own restaurant. Not that it wasn’t in her blood. In 1945, her grandparents assumed ownership of an old pub and renamed it Kelley’s Tavern, both to stake their claim and, presumably, to remember their own name in case another plague of amnesia swept through the United States of Something. Though the tavern stayed in the family for some time, it eventually closed its doors, becoming—ironically enough—an office for Alcoholics Anonymous.
Meanwhile, Mary Kathleen’s years passed by untouched by beer taps or commercial kitchens, at least until she married Dick Hammond, a chef and restaurateur trained at the famous Le Cordon Bleu in France. After successfully running an eatery under Hammond’s name, the couple founded Mary Kelley’s Restaurant & Pub—named for Mary Kathleen’s entrepreneurial grandma—in 1998, finally acquiescing to fate. The rest of the family soon gave in too. Today, Mary Kelley’s son greets restaurant guests, and her own granddaughters work on the wait staff, prepping hand-pattied turkey burgers and freshly broiled seafood from recipes that are, after all, encoded in their DNA.
A science lab calls to mind test tubes, bubbling flasks of chemicals, maniacally laughing men in white coats—but rarely ice cream. But that's exactly where Curt Jones, chairman and founder of Dippin' Dots, came upon the inspiration for the tiny flash-frozen beads of ice cream. A microbiologist, Jones spearheaded the flash-freezing process of cryogenic encapsulation, a method capable of trapping flavor and freshness.
Beginning as a retail shop in Lexington, Kentucky, the ice cream quickly began to quell the tantrums of Fortune 500 CEOs all over the country. Having won numerous awards since he created a new way to enjoy an old treat, Jones stays true to Dippin' Dots’ roots, making the ice cream at the company headquarters in Paducah, Kentucky. New additions to the Dippin' Dots family include Dots ‘n Cream, a treat similar to traditional ice cream.
Blue Ginger’s chefs have no shortage of sources when they need inspiration for their next dish. Rather than limit their scope to a single region or country, they scan recipe books from across Asia and pick out their favorites as starting points. Some of the recipes they dig up date back centuries, but they’re more interested in looking toward the future than dwelling on the past.
It’s certainly a bright future they envision—one in which the best elements of various Asian cuisines have joined forces in the same dishes. There are even some influences from outside Asia that make it into the mix, as the duck fajitas and pan-roasted chilean sea bass will attest. This inclusive spirit isn’t just limited to the food. An extensive drink menu features imported beers, martinis blended with sake, and cocktails stirred with miniature world flags.
Switching from pharmacist to gourmet cupcake baker isn't an obvious career path, but for Sonya Kissi it was a logical one. Inspired by cooking shows on TV, she began baking pastries and sweets at home and discovered she had a knack for it. Soon she founded KissiCakes-n-Sweets, where she and her team bake fresh cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and cheesecakes from scratch each day. Her cupcakes remain the main focus, in flavors such as key lime and raspberry lemonade.
Whit's Frozen Custard whips up rich, velvety frozen concoctions using some of the finest cream, eggs, and toppings on the market. Prepared each and every morning with a virtually heir-less blend of fresh ingredients, Whit's custard-crafters top cake cones ($2.25/1 scoop, $3.25/2 scoops) and hand-dipped waffle cones ($3.25/1 scoop, $4.25/2 scoops) with vanilla and chocolate custards, as well as a special weekly flavor that keeps the bowties of salivating snowmen spinning. Whit's custom Whitsers ($3.50–$4.50) swirl house vanilla custard with a staggering array of syrups, candies, fruit, and nuts (one included, $.50 for each additional topping). Daring visitors can indulge in a crafted creation such as the Buckeye Madness ($3.50/small, $4.25/regular), which blends Reese's cups, chocolate syrup, and peanut butter for a taste-bud bull’s-eye.