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.
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.
The FoodSmiths Catering specializes in culinary services that span from drop-off lunches and carefully arranged platters to parties tended to by wait staffs and barmeisters. Hors d’oeuvres platters mollify mumbling digestive tracks with comestible classics like the smothered brie ($27), rich phyllo tartlets ($65), and chicken cordon bleu skewers ($97.50). Pack away lunch cravings into tasty boxed-salad samplings, such as the bistecca salad ($9.50/guest), a gorgonzola-crested wedge of iceberg lettuce caught in an avalanche of tomatoes, bacon, and parmesan dressing, or bread-bound hand weights like the traditional club sandwich with a deli side, chips, or pretzels and a cookie or brownie ($8.50 for half sandwich/guest, $10.50 for full sandwich), also known as the world’s most delicious blunt weapon. Guests can also quench parched tongues with a variety of made-from-scratch iced teas and lemonades, including basil and raspberry or strawberry citrus herb.
Genji’s menu of traditional hibachi-style grill cuisine fires up the senses with a memorable dining experience that focuses on a sizzling grill and skilled chef dazzling diners with knife wielding dexterity. Stop in for lunch or dinner, grab a drink, listen to the fragrant aromas, and savor a helping of Genji sesame chicken ($15.99, dinner menu only), calamari ($5.99), or a N.Y. steak and scallops dinner ($19.99, dinner menu only). All dinners include a Japanese Shoyu soup, Genji salad, shrimp appetizer, vegetables, steamed rice, and tableside entertainment. Gaze at the grill in wonder, or simply watch the culinary flames flicker your pocket-sized scrying pool.
Indian Palace ignites exotically flavored belly fires with its piquant menu of homemade northern Indian cuisine. Crumple to the floor in awe at the godlike power of the mighty tandoor, a clay oven that fires up savory dishes like tandoori chicken tikka (boneless chicken marinated and char-grilled, $11.50) and fills metaphorical breadbaskets with the literal bread of fresh baked palak naan (stuffed with spinach, ginger, and herbs, $2.99).