Bernie’s Burger Bus
It’s a very rare thing to see people looking excited while waiting in line outside a school bus. But rather than whisk disgruntled kids to school, this bus is staying parked long enough to serve up old school burgers and fries made entirely from scratch. Each of the burgers––which bear school-appropriate names like the study hall, the subsitute, and the homeroom––is made using a blend of three cuts of black angus beef, before being topped with ingredients like homemade ketchup, pickles, and thick-cut bacon, and placed between freshly baked buns. The study hall sizzles with slow-braised pork belly, Spanish onions, and homemade BBQ sauce, while the substitute swaps everyday lettuce and tomato for bleu cheese, bacon, burgundy-laced mushrooms, and caramelized onions. Of course, even diners with perfect attendance like to shake up their lunchtime routine now and again, and so Chef Bernie creates a globally-inspired daily special, the field trip, which might feature anything from German pretzels and mustard to spicy Mexican guacamole.
Thanks to its from-scratch philosophy, Bernie’s Burger Bus has won numerous awards, including the title of best food truck from the My Table Culinary Awards, and "best burger" from the Houston Press. But there's another list earning even more buzz at Bernie's: the detention list. Customers who order Bernie's detention burger––two angus beef patties sandwiched between two applewood bacon grilled cheese sandwiches, and topped with crispy onions, cheddar, and all the fixings––are rewarded with a spot on Bernie's prestigious detention list, only if they finish the mammoth mess or smash it in into a locker.
Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs?while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer;
the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.
Instead of picking out a premade, cookie-cutter holiday card for her family, Kristen decided to make her own. This small decision eventually led to huge opportunities: her husband, Sammy, was so impressed by her homespun creations that the two of them decided to channel Kristen’s craftiness into their own business. Today, the married duo captain Keeping Me Posted, a creative operation that combines Kristen's talent for colorful designs with Sammy’s business know-how to yield custom, one-of-a-kind cards printed on first-rate materials.
Once customers choose from more than 200 designs, including modern shower invitations, moving announcements, and Christmas cards, they can upload images from their computer or straight from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, or SmugMug. The program easily filters pictures into black-and-white or sepia tones for those sending cards to family members who live in the 1920s. Customers can also personalize the cards with their names and personal messages. Once an order is submitted, the staff optimizes each photo for printing by removing red-eye, brightening hues, or sharpening the resolution if needed. HP Indigo printing presses then emblazon designs on thick, high-quality matte paper. Customers interested in crafting a wholly unique creation can call to have Keeping Me Posted custom design any card for no extra cost.
Jennifer Buergermeister is very flexible. She not only moves from job to job?she's an entrepreneur, independent filmmaker, and spiritual healer?but also from pose to pose while teaching yoga. She teaches three undergraduate courses and yoga classes at Rice University and is the founder and director of the Texas Yoga Conference and the Texas Yoga Association. Jenny has created two yoga DVDs and has a third coming out in November. She's also the owner of Jennyoga, where she works with a deep bench of fellow yoga teachers, offering a variety of classes for all levels. These include Sunrise and Awakening, Hatha Flow, and Deep Relaxation and Restorative yoga classes.
The team at Jennyoga strives to make coming to the studio easy. They built a Jennyoga app for mobile devices that allows students to schedule classes on the fly. And they run an in-house store, where visitors can pick up any yoga gear they might need before heading into one of the studios. They even made a short film to inspire attendance, a sort of narrative commercial about the beneficial effects of yoga in our noisy, modern world where neighbors rev motorcycle engines and fire alarms scream in delight whenever you get home.
As a working mother, Stephanie Allen was constantly racing against the clock. One timesaving endeavor she quickly mastered was preparing meals ahead of time from raw, fresh ingredients and popping them in the freezer for a later date. Stephanie eventually amassed a book of recipes and began sharing her culinary secrets with friends. With the help of Tina Kuna's business savvy, Stephanie's personal practice burgeoned into a nationwide phenomenon known as Dream Dinners.
Today at shops across the country, busy matriarchs and patriarchs shuffle around meal stations, each stocked with recipe cards, ingredients, and scratch-and-sniff tinfoil to construct meals that serve three or six. They tick off recipe components as they add the proper amount to meal containers, ferrying the uncooked dishes home and tucking them into freezers. Then, throughout the week, they simply thaw, heat, and serve these dinners to eagerly waiting eaters.
Though Dream Dinners does not cater to specific diets, the company does offer nutritious meals with antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken. Customers can survey all nutritional information before selecting dishes.