As early as age 11, Joanne Weeden was baking treats for her mother to bring to patients at the hospital where she worked as a nurse. Years later, Weeden is still at it, making fresh cookies, cupcakes, dessert bars, and breads at Boomerang Bakery (the name is a tribute to her Australian roots). In addition to offering these goodies, Boomerang is dedicated to making a positive impact on the community in large and small ways, whether that means donating to local charities or teaching customers useful magic tricks such as how to make a cupcake disappear.
Tidbits Bakery's bakers concoct more than 18 cupcake flavors each day, all of which are made in small batches so bakers can spend time inspecting each treat. Flavors range from classic red velvet to pink lemonade—a lemon cupcake with cherry drizzle and cherry-almond icing. The Happy B-Day vanilla cupcake hoards confetti sprinkles within its buttercream filling and tops itself with marshmallow icing, and the Black Pearl places dark-chocolate-frosting top hat on a cream-cheese-filled chocolate cupcake. Tidbits Bakery also crafts custom cakes for weddings, birthday parties, and not-guilty verdicts, along with cake pops, cookies, and more.
Every day, Orange Leaf’s self-serve fountains dispense fresh batches of nutritious frozen yogurt in more than 60 varieties. In the sprightly lime-green and burnt-orange parlor, customers fill their bowls or bottomless magician hats with flavors ranging from pomegranate to caramel to wedding cake, laying a dulcet foundation for all manner of toppings from the buffet. There, they adorn their creamy treats with fresh fruits, nuts, and syrups. Unlike other ice creameries that try to confuse health-conscious customers by listing nutrition information in arcane units of measurement, such as "a smidge of calories" or "an earful of saturated fat," Orange Leaf prominently displays its yogurt’s impressive low-fat, low-sugar stats.
Wielding products from brands such as Skin Script, the spa techs at 100% Pure Pro cater to all skin types with treatments for the whole body. In addition to traditional facials, chemical peels and microdermabrasions aim to minimize fine lines and signs of aging, and waxing sessions rid bodies of unwanted hair on faces, arms, legs, and bikini areas. Staff artists also travel about, dolling up brides for their big day with expert makeup applications and instant microwave veils.
To get to the other side of the world, just walk west on 16th Avenue over the Cedar River. Here, Czech Village brims with the sights and sounds of Central Europe, including restaurants, antique shops, and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library. The neighborhood was originally settled by Bohemians in the mid-19th century, but 1903 marked another milestone: Sykora Bakery opened its doors, filling the air with the smell of fresh-baked rye bread and pastries. In the decades since, it's turned out kolacky and countless other handmade treats, ultimately forcing the U.S. government to overturn its prohibition on after-dinner snacks.
Today, the bakers continue to show up early each morning and hand-make traditional Czech goods, although they have expanded into some new territories. Alongside custom cakes and other desserts, visitors find rye bread made from scratch and a "bohemian hamburger," which is so popular that it graces one of Sykora Bakery's souvenir t-shirts.