Plenty of college students study business. They study business, though, they don't start one of their own. UW students Jason and Rob, however, didn't sit around waiting for graduation. In the middle of an early 1990s night, they surveyed the phone book and agreed that they were tired of the sub-par pizza available to them. Boldly, they started making pies of their own. No business plan. No product testing. Jason and Rob took their pizza to the people, and a business was born.
Today, they're out of college and their Falbo Bros Pizzeria serves its inventive twists on New York-style thin crust, Chicago-style deep dish, and stuffed pizzas in 13 locations across three states. Fresh batches of hand-rolled dough don gourmet toppings such as giardiniera, artichoke hearts, and meatballs. The Falbo kitchens toss specialty pizzas such as the Zeus, whose black olives, spinach, feta cheese, and pepperoncini are baked with the heat of a lightning bolt. Chefs also bake meatball subs and top salads of artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, and grilled chicken with piquant blue cheese dressing. At Falbo's Fort Collins outpost, taps pour local beers from New Belgium and Odell in a seasonal beer garden, and cans of soda offer an alternative fizzy refreshment.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs grill every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. The chefs then sandwich each slab in an artisan bun and turn it into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the chefs do, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Cold Stone's ice cream inhabits a quantum flux between soft-serve and traditional ice cream, with a rich, creamy texture that whispers tales of its super-premium quality as it glides over taste buds. The ice cream generously welcomes dozens of toppings, as traditional as crumbled cookies and chopped nuts or as quirky as granola and black licorice. Choose your favorite ice cream from among dozens of silky flavors, such as Irish cream and butter pecan. Then make certain no one will try and steal a taste by topping it protectively with brownies, gumballs, and cherry pie filling. Whatever Frankencream you create, it'll be scooped cold off the grill into a freshly made waffle cone or bowl. Cold Stone's ice cream and toppings vary between seasons and location, and they also offer sorbet and an array of lighter toppings such as fruit and honey. Ice-cream creations run between $4 and $6, depending on size.
Eileen's Colossal Cookies sates the hungry taste buds of dessert-deprived patrons with an extensive cookie collection. Avoid the embarrassment of an empty cookie jar by stuffing it with 3-inch baked disks ($4.35 per dozen) available in 16 flavors, including chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, and chocolate-chocolate-chip walnut, which is designed to satisfy double-strength cocoa cravings.
The sandwich artists at Silver Mine Subs take a no grilling or frying approach to designing bread-bound eats, putting the spotlight on fresh, crisp ingredients. Browse the menu in search of the Steam Engine, a warm hoagie stuffed with meatballs, marinara sauce, and provolone (5", $4.19), or the turkey-and-avocado-packed Caribou (8", $5.79). For a more flavorful punch than a chocolate-dipped boxing glove, patrons can aggravate the Mother Lode's layers of roast beef, turkey, ham, and salami (11", $9.79). Complement subs with a piping-hot cup of broccoli-cheese soup ($2.99) or a garden salad sprinkled with fat-free ranch dressing ($3.99).