As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s Pizza has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
Every day since “Daddy Dave” Leatherby Sr. and his wife, Sally, opened the first Leatherby’s Family Creamery 30 years ago, the shop has been churning out fresh ice cream layered in sweet sauces straight from the candy kettle. Milk, cream, and sugar form the base of Leatherby’s more than 45 flavors, which range from staples such as chocolate and strawberry to more exotic varieties including mocha almond fudge and spumoni. Inspired by family recipes that date back a half-century, these frosty treats come in cones, shakes, malts, and sodas, as well as in heaping sundaes and banana splits, the largest of which tips the scales at 54 ounces. Leatherby’s menu has expanded over time, and includes savory options such as sandwiches, burgers, soups, and salads.
The first Cool River Pizza opened more than 10 years ago with a mission to serve handcrafted pies made from fresh ingredients and California cheese in a family-friendly environment. All of the dough is made fresh daily and each pizza sports Cool River's homemade sauce accented with more than seven herbs, spices, and umlauts. Over the years, Cool River Pizza has grown from a solo outfit to a family of restaurants in California and Indiana. Inside each location, televisions illuminate dining rooms packed with long wooden tables and board games for families to play while waiting for their orders.
Tiled floors, a stool-lined counter, and a jukebox pumping out tunes from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s all combine to drive home the vintage, midcentury vibe of The Original Mike's Diner. The menu echoes this theme with its selection of down-home comfort foods that range from slow-cooked yankee pot roast and housemade meatloaf with gravy to the charbroiled Big Bopper burger with bacon, onion rings, and barbecue sauce. Regardless of the time of day, the chefs cobble together platters with iconic breakfast staples, including housemade corned-beef hash with eggs and stacks of hotcakes with decaffeinated orange juice.
The spice specialists at Royal Thai Restaurant flip, season, and sear a variety of vibrant ingredients to craft a vast menu of classic Thai eats. Groups can practice learning to share by distributing an order of crispy spring rolls and, once everyone has gotten a fair lot, celebrate by dousing each other in wonton soup. Each helping of Thai-style barbecue chicken arrives at tables festooned in a pickled-garlic sauce. The conga line of zesty flavors continues with the red-curry chicken, before foursomes are allowed to cool down by noshing the ginger beef with mushrooms and onions or by rubbing their cheeks against a block of ice. Various teas are available for sipping and, following the dinner, Royal Thai Restaurant's selection of chocolate, strawberry, or coconut ice cream act as a sweet reward for tongues.
Big Spoon Yogurt’s special topping bar complements hot cocoa and frozen yogurt ensembles with more than 75 novel accompaniments. Beverage construction commences at Big Spoon’s topping bar, where steaming chassis of hot cocoa ($1.25–$2.59) don marshmallow tires—in mint, german chocolate, cinnamon, and toasted coconut flavors—and warm-cookie steering wheels in a rousing race to anticipating taste buds. Patrons sweeten metric-system conversions with frozen yogurt by the ounce (price varies by location), available in chocolate, vanilla, and a rotating stock of non-dairy and sugar-free flavors. Seasonal winter flavors provide the taste of frozen eggnog without the hassle of holding company Christmas parties in a polar bear’s living room, and fall flavors scour a farmer’s windowsill for apple pie and pumpkin yogurt—all customizable with the bar’s more than 75 toppings.