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.
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.
Ranked the No. 1 Submarine Sandwich Franchise in the 2011 Franchise 500 issue of Entrepreneur magazine, Subway has graced the globe with nutritious stacks of meat, crisp veggies, flavorful cheeses, and freshly baked breads since 1965. Three friends, relatives, or members of an understaffed barbershop quartet can wrap their paws around thick sandwiches such as the barbecue pulled pork, 12 inches of fresh-baked bread plumped to meaty perfection with 8 ounces of smoked tender pulled pork swathed in Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce. Italian-style meatballs bob in a bath of tangy marinara sauce, bringing a soft, meaty balance to the crunch of crisp veggies in a hot meatball-marinara sandwich, and comforting melted cheese wraps its gooey arms around juicy steak and tucks it into a hot philly cheesesteak. Lettuce, tomatoes, green bell peppers, and onions reminisce about the old days back in the garden, playing kick-the-cantaloupe in the foot-long, yeasty reunion hall of a veggie-delite sub, and white-meat turkey surrounded by its roughneck trio of ham, salami, and bologna picks flavorful fistfights with ornery vegetables, tackling them to the soft, bready floor of a cold-cut combo.