Basked in natural light and the glow of hanging pendant lights, Courtyard Cafe’s interior is filled with the aroma of carved corned beef, fried green tomatoes, and smoked turkey. These aromas waft from the deli counter, where sandwich makers craft lunch fare such as reubens, burgers, and club sandwiches. Trays of cupcakes crafted with whipped green, red, and yellow frosting line up alongside full-size cakes customized by an in-house cake designer for special events such as weddings and wedding proposals to cakes. The staff also leads cooking classes that teach kids the culinary skills to bake pies, pizza, or Asian dishes. Housed in a downtown building erected in 1887, the Courtyard Cafe’s red-brick exterior evokes a bygone era seen in historical black and white photos lining the straw-colored walls inside. Customers can sit at counters or tables inside, or relax on a landscaped patio next to trees, shrubbery, and a trickling fountain.
When diners aren't sharing pizzas, they can instead feast on their own plate of classic veal parmigiana, shrimp pesto, baked zit, or sandwiches like the Chicken Philly, which are created with freshly baked bread that's made daily. The same goes for pasta sauces on dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo, Meat Ravioli, and eggplant parmigiana. Alfredo's Italian wedding soup—unlike Vegas wedding soup, which is traditionally served in an Elvis impersonator's boot—fills bellies with greens, savory meats, and warm, fuzzy feelings.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop?s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M?s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
After six and a half years working as a restaurant pastry chef, Bianca Priest had an itch for change. That itch led her to open her own bakery, where she specializes in everything from old-fashioned towering cakes to new and innovative sweets. Her butter cake batter, which boasts a satisfyingly dense texture similar to pound cake, provides the base for most desserts and helps stabilize any wobbly tables in the bakery. Bianca also crafts cupcakes, pies, cookies, and bars from scratch, as well as custom cakes and elegant nuptial desserts. Those with dietary restrictions can rejoice in the bakery staff?s ability to accommodate special diets, with lower-sugar-content and vegan options available.
While customers waiting for Dyar's Daylight Donuts to open at 6 a.m. may consider themselves early birds, the Dyars have already been up for hours. On the job seven days a week they bake a full menu of yeast-raised, cake, and specialty donuts, rising incredibly early to ensure that every doughy treat is ready by opening time. With even more advanced preparation—at least 24 hours’ notice—the Dyars can also prepare a custom menu of donuts, muffins, and sausage rolls for catered breakfasts of 10 or more people, or one voracious clone of William Howard Taft.