In 1964, brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel banded together to come up with a new restaurant concept. Arby's took off almost immediately on the coattails of its hallmark roast-beef sandwich and the founders’ idea of providing customers with fast, quality food. Over the company's 48-year franchise history, its foundational pièce de résistance of thinly sliced, juicy beef has been served in a many permutations, and continues to be popular today, served at more than 3,500 stores in North America. Today’s menu still ignites appetites with traditional beef sandwiches, plus hot and seasoned curly fries, fresh-chopped salads, and desserts good for richly capping off meals or bribing any bridge trolls on the way home.
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.
Warm fragrances from a cornucopia of burgers and sandwiches waft from Southport Food's kitchen and twirl across the restaurant's wide-open dance floor. Kick-start idling appetites with hand-breaded, fried jalapeños ($3.49), which extinguish piquant blazes with ranch dressing like a rookie firefighter. The Moon burger raises hunger tides with the gravitational pull of two six-ounce, handmade patties on a seeded bun ($6.49), while the pimento burger pounds empty midriffs with a tag team of bacon and homemade pimento cheese that leap from three slices of toast ($6.29). The kitchen's comestible-wranglers also assemble a posse of deli sandwiches cloaked in turkey, roast beef, and ham ($4.29–$6.79). On select nights, live music prompts patrons to spring to their feet and swing dance or shake free the onion rings lodged in their cuffs.
Carolina Smoke's pitmasters release bold, succulent taste bursts with a slow-smoked menu of down-home eats. All meats are hand-rubbed and eye-watched, never pre-cloaked in flavor-smothering sauces or frowny-face masks. Sink teeth into the tender beef-brisket sandwich ($10) or delve deep into the flavor furnace with a prime rib ($21). Diners can further slake smoky cravings with a half or full rack of baby-back ribs ($14, $22) or feed famished fingers a gratifying grip of hot wings ($10). The restaurant's policy of allowing eaters to add their own sauce permits patrons to customize flavoring and ink unique impressions on napkin and facial canvases. Behind the eatery's shingled sides and white shutters, dining-room guests can bookend bites with sips of Carolina sweet tea.
In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” super-computer Deep Thought is asked to calculate the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything—7.5 million years later, it arrives at the answer: 42. Most scholars have rejected this as a legitimate answer to the meaning of life, except for Yogurt King’s owner, Travis Linder. It’s no coincidence that 42 is the minimum number of sugary, nutty, and fruity toppings Travis keeps stocked in his topping bar. Evidence of the number 42 as a plausible answer to The Ultimate Question is smeared all over the sticky faces of Yogurt King’s customers. They shuffle out of Yogurt King in a satisfied daze usually reserved for monks who’ve just discovered how to levitate without arm floaties. Skeptics need only venture into the ocean-blue shop and pull on one of 12 levers, each dispensing a cascade of frozen yogurt in flavors such as pink lemonade, cookie batter, and mango tango. Should their life still feel empty after strewing their frosty dish with strawberries and peaches sourced from nearby Abbott Farms, they can take satisfaction in knowing that the universe really is meaningless, and fix their gaze on one of Yogurt King’s two flat-screen televisions.
When Cory Wilk's 7-year-old son Cameron was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation helped Cory's family deal with the disease. To thank them, Cory did what he did best: host a meal at his restaurant, CityRange. He invited renowned chef Michel Nischan to cook a multicourse feast that raised funds for the organization. The event was one of many steps Cory's restaurant has taken toward health-consciousness, as was including healthy items on the menu catered to Coop's Health and Fitness's Ultra Fit eating plan.
The award-winning restaurant also woos taste buds with more decadent dishes, including cuts of Black Angus steak topped with fresh crabmeat, a bone-in chargrilled-pork chop, and tender medallions layered with blue crab cakes. Barkeeps craft cocktails, pour drafts of CityRange's award-winning brew into glasses, and grab bottles of wine sent from overseas via homing pigeons. Meals unfold around the dining room’s stone fireplaces and under the stars on the outdoor patio.