Despite its rustic name, Liquor Barn purveys a wide array of sophisticated libations. Its shelves span continents with their stock—wines hail from Europe, South America, and Australia, and more than 2,000 domestic and imported beers appease hops aficionados. As for spirits, the store carries a mix of popular brands—Bacardi and Smirnoff among them—and exclusive collectibles, such as the cask-matured Auchentoshan 1975 limited-release bourbon, 1 of only 500 bottles ever produced. These coveted pieces display craftsmanship both inside and outside their containers. Tequila bottles, for example, might resemble painted skulls or ceramic cacti, instead of traditional flasks.
The staff facilitates purchases with onsite expertise. Each of the two Liquor Barn locations boasts specialists on certain types of drinks, from cognacs to craft beers. During social events, they showcase their know-how by leading pairing dinners, weekly free tastings, and cooking demonstrations along with special guests. Employees needn't be in the store to furnish parties, either: they can ferry drinks to nearby locales in a fleet of delivery trucks powered by popping champagne corks.
Red neon signage smolders above the entrance to Beef Villa, a no-frills eatery where diners can settle into crimson booths and dig into freshly carved gyros, seasoned Italian beef sandwiches, and other succulent offerings. Ever since the original Dundee Avenue location opened in 1970, the eatery has been serving up a menu of "hot and fast" casual fare, from chili infused with Red Hot Chicago pure beef dogs to pure-pork Italian sausage that deliver just the right amount of snap with each bite.
At Brooklyn Deli, owners Mark Anderson and Don Bothem slice premium meats and julienne subway passes for authentic New York-style sandwiches. Along with their menu of Brooklyn classics, the duo and their staff whip up custom creations, layering breads with meats, toppings, dressings, and cheeses. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in the fryer, and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies rise in the ovens. Out in the dining area, cheerful red booths and stools line up beneath photographs of New York.
Melanie Aitken handcrafts small batches of truffles, brittle, and other dainties with expertise honed over 30 years as an acclaimed confectioner for parties and weddings. Clusters of cashews and caramel emulate turtles as they are dipped by hand into white- and milk-chocolate shells, and fragrant almonds flavor traditional dutch bonquet pastries, re-created based on a recipe from Melanie's grandmother. Lava-salted caramel strains to encase magmatic caramel drops within a sill of milk or white chocolate, and a sprinkling of black-lava salt hints at the eruption of flavor contained within. Melanie’s Country Confections delivers locally, and an online storefront facilitates orders throughout the country.
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.