Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
The Filling Station independently serves locally roasted espresso and coffee and a scrumptious selection of breakfast and lunch bites in a garage-themed café. Browse the Union Hill menu for the Filling Station's caffeinated concoctions, with espresso roasted from Broadway Café and Roastery and coffee from Oddly Correct Coffee Roasters. For breakfast, the Filling Station offers a plethora of baked goods, from blackberry peach muffins ($1.80) to freshly baked cinnamon rolls ($2.25). Lunchtime brings the killer veggie wrap ($7.50), packed with spinach, tomato, onion, carrots, and more. The Westport menu is more compact, but you can still pick up an apple walnut Danish ($2.50) or almond marzipan croissant ($2.50) in the drive-thru before heading out to hunt the evasive galloping fig tree.
Break from the rapid beating of seasonal gingerbread batters and take refuge in a European-style café that has a variety of Thanksgiving meal-ending stomach-pleasers. For $8, today's Groupon gets you $16 worth of freshly baked bakery bites at Jay WaLe’s Bakery-Bistro, named 2009’s Best Bakery by The Pitch, and, unlike most bakeries, it's not also the headquarters of a cookie-gang.Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
Batter is ladled out onto the surface of a steaming hot plate, and as the Chez Elle chef spreads it out into a circle with a wooden spatula, it slowly transforms into a light, crispy-edged crepe. Each tender wrap is filled with sweet and savory ingredients, from spinach, artichokes, and crème fraîche, to raspberry sauce and chocolate mousse. Vegan and gluten-free batters cater to diners of all dietary persuasions. Freshly prepared plates, sided with wine, coffee, and beer, are carried to the leather couches and sleek chairs of the dining room, or to an airy outside patio. This parisian atmosphere is cultivated by owner Ellen Trakas, who first became enamored of crepes when she lived in France. She pours that passion not only into the food, but also the eco-conscious business practices at Chez Elle. Paper goods are made with biodegradable corn rather than traditional coal dust, and the café's used coffee grounds find second homes as compost for local farms.