In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
A family-owned-and-operated establishment, the idea for Jenny's Steak House sprouted more than 60 years ago in a small pub on Chicago's South Side. These days, chefs still whip up menu items that the family concocted all those years ago, such as potato pancakes, braised lamb shanks, and oxtail soup. The culinary maestros at Jenny's Steak House also grill hand-cut steaks smeared with a special seasoning blend, pair wraps and sandwiches with homemade Idaho potato chips, and blacken, broil, or fry fresh seafood. Meanwhile, the pizza kitchen dispenses pies until 1 a.m., at which time all the uncooked dough and pepperoni turn into a magical pizza carriage. The lounge accommodates guests even later as they relax with martinis, local brews, or wine while enjoying evening entertainment such as live music and karaoke.
Renowned chef Michael Papandrea leads a team of culinary craftspeople as they create wide-ranging Italian fare including shrimp, veal, and pasta dishes, as well as a slew of sandwiches. Pizza artisans bake hand-pulled crusts directly on stone, bestowing each round foundation with a scrumptiously crispy texture and excellent posture. The eatery?s pesto sauce kicks butter to the curb, while cheesy bread stashes gooey mozzarella inside an italian loaf prior to baking. Parmesans? skilled staffers deliver catered fare and set up the Italian nibbles, freeing up hosts to light candles, arrange flowers, and retrieve the special-occasion china from the basement?s 7,926-mile hole leading to the other end of the world.
Open for 25 years and celebrated by AM670 The Score, the Southland Star, and Patch.com, the items on the Durbin’s menu vary by location, but all of its kitchens prepare hearty sandwiches, pizzas, and barbecue. Wood embers infuse ribs and chicken with smoky flavors as USDA Black Angus steaks are plated alongside sautéed mushrooms and homemade coleslaw. Fresh donut holes are also made in-house and stacked on ice cream sundaes topped with a single red cherry that resembles the setting sun resting on a pillow of vanilla-flavored clouds.
Choo Choo's train-themed eatery revs diners' digestive engines with a medley of wraps and sandwiches, as well as a miniature locomotive that gallivants through the family-friendly dining room. The dynamic servers, clad in engineer attire, deliver hearty menu items, such as the bacon-and-cheese char-burger ($8.49) and the tortilla-swaddled chicken-and-bacon wrap ($8.49). The Conductor's special bookends charbroiled chicken, marinara, and parmesan between a gourmet bun, and the Penn Central sandwich trots down the track, tempting tongues with rib-eye steak, mozzarella, grilled onions, and peppers embraced by french bread ($7.99). Watch kids marvel as a model train delivers food at the counter or chugs through a miniature city populated by tiny commuters and average-size thimbles.
For years, Julie Scianna’s celiac disease left her uncomfortable and bloated—until she eliminated gluten. The advice made her feel better almost immediately. However, finding gluten-free food to sustain her new diet proved easier said than done. To solve this problem for fellow celiac sufferers, Julie, in collaboration with Chef Andrew Hebda now makes gluten-free treats widely available through OMG…It’s Gluten Free. The restaurant’s entirely gluten- and peanut-free menu includes café items such as lasagna, pizza, and corn dogs along with bakery classics such as cinnamon rolls and brownies. In addition to the main café in Frankfort, Julie also distributes her gluten-free treats at various locations in eight states.