So established is Circle K Midwest that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for—fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Fresh Café, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including sandwiches, fruit cups, and fresh-cut vegetables. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with premium coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
Less than two percent. That's how much of the nation's beef gets the coveted title of USDA Prime. Most of that goes straight to fancy restaurants, but the team at Chicago Prime Meats is looking to change that, much to the chagrin of white-tablecloth vendors everywhere. Here, butchers cut and sell more than 100 varieties of gourmet meats: filet mignon, Black Angus Certified Choice, and everything in between. They can also wrap up fresh Atlantic or Scottish salmon, Alaskan halibut, and other seafood. The butchers happily chat with customers to help them find the perfect item, though easy online ordering means patrons need not travel to the store.
Once their butcher shop proved successful, the team at Chicago Prime Meats looked for a way to show off the full range of their culinary skills. They found the answer in catering. Their chefs cook entrees such as chicken florentine, sides such as fresh garlic bread, and desserts such as cannoli.
In 1927, The Southland Ice Company’s icehouses were one of the few refuges from the searing Dallas heat and marauding bands of tumbleweeds. That same year, the company’s employees realized the frigid temperatures could also preserve items such as milk and eggs. Soon, as more items and services such as gasoline were gradually added to the operation, the company expanded to stores called Totem’s. To account for the boom in popularity, the stores were kept open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and to reflect these new hours, the store name was changed to 7-Eleven.
Today, 7-Eleven has nearly 50,000 locations in 16 countries. The stores are now open 24/7 and sell everything from iconic Slurpee and Big Gulp drinks to coffee, hot dogs, baked goods, and signature 7-Select products. The store’s involvement in the community matches its commitment to convenience, with generous charity donations and a pledge to the safe sale of age-restricted products.
Specializing in olives, cheese, and other Mediterranean products, Olives-4-You's southern French family also loves to offset the quaint shop's aromas of fresh-baked bread with the warm scent of fresh chocolate. The two-hour Death by Chocolate cooking class teaches students how to concoct a fatally fudgy arsenal of confections for special occasions, holidays, and corporate slumber parties. By the time pupils depart the Mediterranean market's tiled floors and brick archways, they'll have conjured a variety of chocolate-based recipes that might include yummy truffles, enticing Bailey's chocolate mousse, and a molten-chocolate lava cake powerful enough to fossilize a small Italian island.
The steak sampler pummels the meat-eater's appetite with a 12 lb. meateor of hanging tender, black forest top sirloin, southwest flank steak, and authentic steakhouse tri-tip. Each 3 lb. segment applies meltingly marbled, tenderly marinated meatiness directly to the taste buds, satisfying both soulful hunger and savage flavorlust. Clancy's vacuum-marinating process penetrates the meaty steaks with arrows of spice, tenderizing juices, and 100% pure USDA choice and prime-grade magic for the juiciest, most flavor-filled steaksperience possible.
Renowned chef Tim Canning and co-owner Shaun Black lead a team of skilled butchers, cheesemongers and culinary specialists at their Downer?s Grove grocery store Lemon Tree Grocer Direct Organics, which specializes in natural and organic foods. The cheerful food purveyors greet shoppers with smiles, calling locals by name and newcomers by spirit animal and making recommendations on the best wines, cheeses, and produce. In addition to traditional grocery items, the modern store stocks vegan, gluten-free, and kosher products, as well as responsibly raised and sustainable fish and meat selections from growers such as Niman Ranch.
Driven by the idea that good food pairs best with good conversation, Zest Caf? features a communal table for dining and socializing, as well as private tables for sipping wine and whispering nutrition facts. The lunch and dinner menus are casual but gourmet, replete with rich ingredients such as Maine lobster and croissants. Special events such as live music, wine tastings, and occasional synchronized grocery-cart frolics make the shopping experience unique and spirited.