Owner Kathy Gentry once relied on baking to console her during marathon studying sessions in college. Years later, Gentry has built a booming business devoted to celebrating cake’s charms. Staff guide budding and seasoned pastry chefs alike toward cake tools and instructors curate a packed schedule of courses that cover everything from finessing fondant to freeing trapped clowns from giant cakes. The chefs even film a hugely popular YouTube video series in which they meticulously guide bakers on sugar-laced odysseys.
Like plate spinners at the circus, parents constantly race among multiple potential catastrophes. Brandy Marek, herself a mother of twin boys, established Take A Break to give parents time off from this endless balancing act and allow them to focus on their own neglected interests. Guardians unleash pent-up conversation with their grown-up peers over sandwiches and salads washed down with coffee as occasional gleeful shrieks drift to their ears from the playroom, where charges cavort under the watchful eye of Take A Break's staff. As parents take advantage of the alone time and wireless Internet to work, read, or research, kids build fortresses with blocks, assemble puzzles, and tear through a playhouse. With the jingling strains of kid-friendly music playing softly in the background, adults may reserve the café's conference room for meetings with clients, study-group sessions, or to practice setting up a new air mattress.
There is something so utterly charming about a tea shop that soothes patrons from the hectic outside world with a cup of hot tea and a slice of housemade banana cake glazed with lemon-cream-cheese icing. At Low Arts Tea Haven, guests can seek respite in the shop that feels like a best friend’s cozy apartment with its comfy oversized furniture, local artwork hanging from the walls, and a diary that was totally open the whole time. Soft music fills the air as guests sip Masala chai spiced tea, English breakfast tea, or the popular Chinese Dragonwell green tea and nibble scones and almond bars. Wooden shelves and tables nearby hoist teas, jams, and brewing supplies. The shop often hosts events including gongfu tea ceremonies, book clubs, and art classes.
Chef Geroy Rachel honed his skills at L'École culinaire in Memphis before opening Royal Flavors, a food truck specializing in smoky barbecued meats. Inside the mobile kitchen, he wraps bacon around chicken legs, flavors pork riblets with a dry rub, and smokes beef burgers to serve on butter buns with provolone cheese and pickles. Smoked cabbage salad or turnip greens with smoked pork round out meals, and slices of caramel cake or strawberry shortcake provide a sweet finish. Diners can take their food to go or eat beside the food truck, where picnic chairs surround a flat screen television.