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 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop’s reputation grew, 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&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
Big Daddy Bagels' friendly staff mixes, boils, and bakes more than 15 New York–style bagels ($0.85 each) and concocts 17 cream cheese varietals ($2.35–$3.25) daily. The New Yorker piles on plain cream cheese, lox, capers, red onion, and tomato ($6.99), and the Boulderite Wrap houses black bean hummus, avocado, red onion, cucumber, tomato, and sprouts ($6.50) in a culinary inn. Freshly baked muffins ($1.75), cinnamon rolls ($2.25), and jumbo cookies ($1.75) support a cast of custom smoothies ($2.99), packed with a choice of two fruits, a juice, and optional protein powder ($.99). The chronically fatigued can boost brain waves or steam open envelopes at Big Daddy's full espresso bar, which serves an Americano ($1 for 12 oz.), cappuccino, ($2.25 for 12 oz.), and iced mocha ($3.25).
As you might have guessed from the name, icy cold treats dominate the menu at Snow Dessert. Shaved ice—available in flavors like mango, strawberry, and margarita—is served Hawaiian style, soaked in syrup and topped with fresh fruits, rainbow jelly, and sweet beans. Meanwhile, creamy scoops of gelato crown sugar cones or banana splits, while little pearls of tapioca give boba tea drinks an added pop. Those who want to warm up after all that chilly sweetness can lead a conga line around the clean, minimalist dining room, or stay seated to enjoy one of the kitchen's savory teriyaki rice or udon noodle bowls.
Bakers fill La Patisserie Francaise with the sugary scents of fresh pastries crafted according to traditional recipes and cooking methods passed on from its French founder. Breakfast selections span the divide between sweet and savory with chocolate and almond croissants ($3 and under) and butter croissants before plates take lunchtime naps beneath warm crepe blankets snuggling a variety of fillings. Flocks of pastries such as raspberry- and chocolate-layered basilic, cupcakes ($3+), and amaretto éclairs gather behind clear panes of glass cases to collect fingerprints in hopes of finding the one that unlocks their crystalline prison. Punch cards earn their carrier large ice-cream bowls stacked with scoops of mint chocolate-chip, spumoni, strawberry cheesecake, and other flavors.