Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
From the time he first started frosting cookies and cakes with his mom, Dylan has had a passion for baking. And what began as a bonding experience blossomed into a veritable skill under the tutelage of well-known Kansas City baker Chelsea Williams, helping equipping him for the intricate artistry needed to create custom cakes and desserts. Now making cakes, pies, and cookies in his own shop, Dylan shares his lifelong love with clients with collaboration on custom desserts. He works with everything from fondant designs to towering cakes that reach up to seven tiers tall, creating desserts that are as tasty as they are elegant with flavors such as red velvet, raspberry white chocolate, and Boston cream. Outside of his signature cakes, he creates pastries such as pies, tarts, and the thin, fruity slices of crostatas. The menu includes more than the stereotypical flavors, incorporating options such as ginger crinkle cookies, plum walnut strudels, and chocolate matzo toffee bars, allowing clients to find their new favorite dessert.
Armed with passed-down family recipes, two tenacious sisters serve up fresh dinner rolls baked on-site alongside sandwiches, salads, and soups that eschew preservatives in favor of all-natural ingredients. Big Momma's famous cinnamon rolls come in a triumvirate of flavors and boast diameters of up to 9 inches, making them qualified Frisbee stunt doubles. An aromatic duo of breakfast sandwiches and coffee pries open eyes each morning, and lunchtime hails a parade of hearty sandwiches with turkey, roast beef, and veggie fillings, which patrons can order solo or flanked by a bowl of the daily rotating soup.
GNC's Smoothie Bars blend up a healthy variety of fruit and supplement-infused frozen beverages with 15 flavorful concoctions in its smoothie lineup. Sip from one of GNC's fruit-filled smoothies, such as the sweet Cherry Baby, a synthesis of cherries, pineapple, strawberries, and banana, or indulge in a creamy creation, such as the Peanut Butter Surprise, a medley of peanut butter, banana, and milk. An early Shot of NRG, pumped with ginseng and guarana, provides a healthy alternative to one's usual donuts-and-cotton-candy morning routine, and smoothies such as the strawberry- and banana-assisted Popular Vote can replace calorie-laden afternoon snacks.
It took three years for Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffeehouse to go from a concept to a full-fledged baked-goods business. Much of that time was devoted to making sure the all-vegan menu didn't skimp on taste, texture, and style. Today, three years after opening, thousands of Facebook fans attest to the virtue of their patience.
Each day, the Mud Pie bakers whip a variety of baked goods including one or two kinds of cupcakes, choosing from two dozen flavors. Staples such as vanilla, peanut butter, and german chocolate mix with more experimental flavors including french toast, strawberry lemonade, and s'mores. Diners wash down cupcakes and sweet and savory baked goods with mexican hot cocoa, homemade chai, or speciality coffee drinks. Gluten-free versions of many of their products are also available and made daily.
Crystal Mooers has been decorating cakes for nearly three decades, including 15 years working as a cake decorator for large food chains. About seven years ago, she and her husband Steven decided to tap into the teamwork they'd honed raising five children together and started their own business: Just Cakes. Together, they provision parties of every sort with festively layered cakes.
Crystal festoons birthday sheet cakes with basic decorations or spruces them up with edible images, cutout shapes, or fondant designs. Her grooms' cakes express new husbands' interests, from cheering on a sports team to fixing up vintage cars to eating cake. Wedding-cake flavors, including butter pecan and red velvet, are spackled together with cheesecake mousse, peach-velvet topping, and other sweet fillings, creating multi-tiered masterpieces that realize newlyweds' confectionary dreams. She also shapes adult novelty cakes into risqué works of art for bachelor or bachelorette parties. To help hosts and hostesses put the finishing touches on their events, they rent out plate-topped columns, stands, pedestals, and fountains.
Just Cakes is a labor of love for the couple for reasons beyond their confectionary passions. They donate a percentage of the bakery's proceeds to help Crystal's sister pay her medical bills as she fights breast cancer.