On street corners from Texas to North Carolina, Johnny Brusco's Pizza serves up piping-hot slices of New York, and that's not whistling Dixie. It's not even kazooing Yankee. The franchise boasts a lineage that stretches back to 1965, when pie-smith Johnny Pace opened up his pizzeria just outside of Syracuse. Though the menu stays true to Johnny's classic style, today's crust-tossers aren't afraid to switch things up in modern style. Gluten-watchers can dig into a flour-free variant of the crust, and their specialties include such daring choices as a cream cheese pizza, a Philly-esque steak and cheese, and a zesty gourmet pie with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and artichokes. Outside of the round stuff, diners might select a summery strawberry-pecan salad, a classic plate of bruschetta with pesto, mozzarella, and marinara sauce, and a finger-licking dessert of cinna-knots.
Each night, KC Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze undergoes a bone-chilling transformation. Its family-friendly rides and activities vanish in the gathering dusk, replaced by the five frightening attractions that make up KC Fear Farm. Ghastly clowns terrorize guests amid the Circus Asylum's dark, billowing curtains, and a Buried Alive attraction horrifies all five senses with a realistic simulation of being six feet under. The corn maze—aptly renamed the Field of Screams—elicits cries of horror from visitors who dare to wander its pitch-black corners. Available on a separate or combined ticket, the Zombie Apocalypse paintball adventure pits turret-mounted paintball guns against armies of bloodthirsty undead.
At Simple Simon?s Pizza, pies are anything but simple. The kitchen can whip up traditional pizzas, such as the Hawaiian and the green-pepper-and-sausage-bedecked Supreme, but the chefs really use their culinary imaginations when it comes to the house-specialty pizzas, which come topped with anything from hamburger and pickles to lettuce and potato chips. Simple Simon?s ovens also bake up calzones and stromboli. Chicken wings in flavors such as barbecue, Cajun, or hot wings round out the menu, along with desserts such as sweet bites of breadsticks wearing a cinnamon and icing disguise.
The meaty aromas of slow-smoked ribs and tender beef waft from Smokey’s kitchens, where piles of barbecued proteins simmer over seasoned hickory and sweet cherry. With no gas lines needed to fuel the wood-fire grills, the restaurant’s pipes are reserved for pumping spicy sauces onto full slabs of spare ribs ($17.50) and signature barbecue sandwiches topped with slaw and carolina mustard ($3.49–$6.19) along with other menu dishes. Reel in a savory slice of The Big Muddy with the catfish dinner ($7.99), a generous portion served with Texas toast, a salad, and a choice of two sides such as baked beans and honey-apple cornbread. A host of hearty breakfast options awaits early morning patrons, headlined by the Legendary Stack ($6.49), a savory skyscraper of hash browns, meat, and eggs on an architecturally dubious foundation of biscuit or toast.
Planet Sub sidesteps the flavorless land mines of days-old bread, opting for filling-packed subs and sandwiched meaty delights. The menu may differ slightly between the two locations, but omnipresent signature subs cross state lines to sate hungering masses, such as the bacon-bolstered mega roast beef ($4.69/$7.29 ) and the Planet BBQ, a saucy concoction stacked with ham, turkey, and roast beef ($3.99/$6.99 ). Vegetarian options abound, so meat abstainers can try the spicy cheese sub ($4.49/$6.99 ) or the pesto bello ($4.99/$7.19), which is loaded with portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and a tomato-garlic pesto as smooth and suave as an Italian R&B crooner.
Sally and Robert Bennett, their children beside them, stood at the edge of the busy intersection in Overland Park the day after Thanksgiving. They clutched bundles of business cards tied to samples of their homemade chocolate and passed them out to idling drivers. The success of their street-side pitch led to Sweet Perfection Bakery and its display cases of housemade candies and cakes. Aided by a few other bakers, the duo crafts most baked goods from family recipes—such as grandma's sugar cookies and a pie Robert created during his time serving in the Marines. As evidence of the bakery's strong familial ties, family members—such as children and nieces—frequently help with daily kitchen operations.
Much like da Vinci painted a new Mona Lisa each day to keep her from changing her hairstyle, the bakers build cinnamon rolls, fruit pies, and seasonal cakes in-house every morning. Their confectionary delights snub preservatives in favor of real fruit and hearty buttercream frosting. An on-staff cake decorator embellishes lemon-raspberry and german-chocolate cakes with Happy Birthdays and Well Wishes, and blueberry pies garner praise as a customer favorite. Bakers also design custom orders, sometimes completing cakes last-minute when needed, once finishing a decorated cake on the spot for a distraught mother, whose first cake tumbled to the floor less than two hours before her son's birthday party.