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.
The Pie Folks' talented bakers adorn crusts with 20 made-from-scratch fillings, scoring awards at the National Pie Championships and catching the eye of Good Morning America. Gallop to the shop for a slice of pie ($3.99) from the menu and stuff cheeks with slivers of the prizewinning Slap Yo Mama chocolate pie or try to wedge the Moonshiner’s bourbon filling into a flask. Unlike munching a photo of a brownie, mouthfuls of sugar-free chocolate cupcakes ($1.99 each) keep spirits high and glucose levels low. Lunchtime guests can fuel up with a chicken salad sandwich or tuna salad sandwich ($5.99 each) and end meals with red-velvet cupcakes ($1.69 each).
YoLo—a truncated combination of the words yogurt and local —lives up to its abbreviated namesake by using toppings from local farmers and bakers on its self-serve frozen yogurt. Customers DIY their yogurt treat, choosing the type of yogurt, the toppings, and ultimately the cost of the treat, as YoLo charges $0.45 per ounce, which includes the weight of the cup, frozen yogurt, toppings, and ghosts of frozen yogurts past. The thick and creamy frozen yogurt is made from real dairy yogurt from Honey Hill Farms in Russellville, Arkansas, with all flavors kosher, gluten-free, and either low-fat or non-fat. Non-dairy mango sorbet is also available for vegans. With the bed of yogurt assembled, customers can hit the toppings bar to sprinkle culinary confetti atop their creation. YoLo offers tasty toppings from area vendors such as Makeda's and Dinstuhl's. Toppings—like fashion trends, TV schedules, and the color of the leaves on foliage monsters—change with the season.
Outside of swimming laps in chocolate syrup, smoothies at Smoothie King are the tastiest way to improve your health. Smoothie King smoothies combine fresh fruit, natural juices, and special nutritional enhancers into more than 90 flavors (you can customize, add, and subtract the extras), all of which focus on achieving one of seven nutritional goals. Try an antioxidant-rich Pomegranate Punch with pomegranate, bananas, blueberries, apple juice, soy protein, and Turbinado sweetener to stay healthy. Weight-conscious en-smuthiasts can trim down and float away with the Celestial Cherry High, packed with bananas, black cherry, papaya, Turbinado, and honey, and unpacked with fat. You can also customize any smoothie by adding enhancers or “make it skinny” by cutting out the honey and Turbinado.
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.