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.
When founders J. Kim Tucci, Joseph A. Fresta, and John P. Ferrara first opened The Pasta House Co. in 1974, they wanted to elevate pasta to an art form. ?Some artists sculpt, some paint, and some sketch,? they write on the restaurant?s website. ?But, at The Pasta House Co., we create authentic Italian culinary delights.? A few of the locations even have giant, exhibition kitchens so you can watch as pizzas, pastas, and entrees come to life.
Naturally, The Pasta House Co.?s menu revolves around the Italian staple from which it gets its name. There are more than 25 varieties of pasta to choose from, including linguine with chicken livers and the signature lasagna, plus weekday specials such as stuffed manicotti. Meanwhile, the mangia bene menu?which translates to ?eat well? in Italian?showcases the more wholesome side of Italian eating, with dishes low in fat and calories that won?t peer pressure you to break curfew.
Maggie Malone's menu merges aggressive appetites with burgers, steaks, and sandwiches in an entertaining environment that hosts live music, 15 TVs, pool, and shuffleboard. Pub grubbers can crunch toasted ravioli ($7.99) or scoop spinach-artichoke dip ($6.99) while raising a beer to their favorite team or shampoo commercial airing on one of two 100" TV screens. Burger aficionados can bestow their bellies with the sautéed onion-and-pepper-topped blackened cheeseburger ($6.99) or brave the fiery 5 Alarm burger ($6.99) for a face-reddening feast. Toss a coin into the jukebox for a tune to accompany the Irish Reuben ($7.99) or the 8-ounce rib-eye steak sandwich served with a choice of chips, fries, or onion rings ($8.99). Kids always eat free at Maggie's, meaning children will not have to sing for their supper or recite Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics for a snack.
Ten flat-screen televisions play sports, sports, and more sports inside Texas Smokehouse and Saloon, and on select nights, the bar treats patrons to live musical acts and haiku readings. Drinks pair with chicken and beef sandwiches and soft pretzels brushed with a Budweiser and garlic-herb seasoning.
When Terry Yake found his way off his family's farm to pursue a career as a professional hockey player, he didn't dream that it would lead him back. During his time with the St. Louis Blues, Terry would return from every trip back home to Manitoba, Canada, with a care package under his arm, packed with the farm's fresh, free-range beef. His teammates got a taste at a backyard barbecue and began clamoring for more beef like a carnivorous pack of parrots. When Terry returned to the St. Louis area, so did the demand for his family's meat. He began running a bare-bones operation out of his garage, which eventually grew into a retail outlet that allows Terry to share the fruit of his family's labor with the community he now, happily, calls home.
All of T-Bones Natural Meats's beef comes from animals that graze freely, without the effects of hormones, steroids, or antibiotics. The same can be said for the free-range poultry, pork, and bison that the team procures from area farms. The animals eat what they would in nature, which Terry believes results in a better taste, a better conscience, and better nutrition?as studies have shown. Their sausages are made from pigs that have been raised equally kindly; the meat is wrapped in natural casings with all-natural add-ons, such as fresh mushrooms, just-chopped apples, and pure maple syrup. All the meat is flash-frozen, a more eco-friendly way of salting it and storing it in an ice palace.
The doughsmiths at Cecil Whittaker’s Pizzeria craft thin-crust pizzas bubbling with an untouched surface of cheese or loaded with toppings such as jalapeño peppers, bacon, and shrimp. It’s their specialty and what they’re known for—“This is the place to go if you like St. Louis-style, thin-crust pizza (though they do offer a thick crust pizza, too) or just want to kick back and have a beer,” raves Metromix.
But the menu isn’t limited to pizzas. Each day, the kitchen roasts and slices tender beef for roast beef sandwiches dipped in savory au jus. The au jus is prepared in house, as is the meat sauce that graces Cecil Whittaker's pasta, chicken parmesan, and meatball sandwiches. There’s also a hearty selection of smokehouse dishes such as ribs, pulled pork, and brisket served with homestyle sides of green beans and coleslaw. A weekday lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. gives diners a chance to sample different entrees and sides–along with a salad and pizza bar–and creative additions the chefs cook up like sloppy joe's one day or bacon cheeseburgers the next.