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.
This sunlit, primarily New York–inspired eatery is infused with southern hospitality, serving up fresh, savory cuisine ideal for casual lunchers and geographically torn taste buds. Soups rotate daily, starting the week with broccoli and cheese and concluding with Friday's creamy potato ($2.98 for a small, $3.95 for a large). Gold-rushing appetites can hop aboard the California panini, a bread wagon packed full of turkey, spinach, cheddar cheese, and avocado ($4.25 for a half, $6.50 for a whole), and New York–deli purists can pledge allegiance to a Reuben, a trusted committee of corn-beef, sauerkraut, swiss-cheese, and thousand-island-dressing dreams standing firmly on a foundation of pumpernickel ($6.75). Add a side salad, such as the verdant garden salad ($2.95) or the sweet spring salad ($3.95), to grant green Jell-O a natural friend on your personal food pyramid.
When James Hughes, Steven Ramsey, and Matthew Connors moved to Florida together, they fished and lounged on the beach all day and worked at restaurants and bars all night. After returning to the Carolinas, the trio opened Sharkey's Raw Bar & Grill to capture the spirit of their favorite beachside pastime and the infectious energy of the area?s bustling nightlife. The private chef for the Masters golf tournament for five years, executive chef Steven steams, grills, and fries some of the ocean?s tastiest catches, including shrimp, oysters, crab, and fish. His menu also unfolds with crab-cake sandwiches, 10-ounce rib-eye steaks, and gator bites most popular with vengeful pirates with hooks for hands.
A second-place-award winner in the 2011 National Bartending Competition, Matthew manages a full stock of liquor that washes down each bite. Diners can dig in at the outdoor seating area or in the spacious 125-seat dining room, which evokes an oceanic feel with a large mural of octopi, sharks, fish, and a sunbathing Poseidon. Along with their fresh seafood, Sharkey's Raw Bar & Grill entices guests with live music every Friday and Saturday night.
More than 40 years ago, Harry J. Hoenselaar chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff still makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop. In addition to the eponymous victuals, the ham denizens turn their braising prowess on similarly delightful platter toppers, including turkey, barbecued pork, and 2-pound beef roasts smothered in gravy.
The hammery's kitchens also whip up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato soufflé. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.
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.
If N.Y. HIBACHI BUFFET?s spread of more than 100 items seems a bit overwhelming, the hibachi grill makes the process of filling your plate quite easy. Chefs at the hibachi station grill pieces of steak, salmon, and shrimp until they're tender enough to eat or squeeze into an envelope to mail to a loved one. The nearby sushi station produces rolls wrapped in seaweed or sliced cucumbers and topped with roe and spicy sauces. Other designated areas include a salad bar, fruit bar, and hot bar featuring sesame chicken and noodle dishes. At the dessert bar, a full lineup of sweet treats includes chocolate-layered cakes, lemon cakes, and cookies.