Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country, and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop’s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Stocking a vast selection that features nearly a hundred sauces, over 150 spices and rubs, and natural hardwoods ranging from cherry to mesquite, Ruffs Barbecue Shoppe outfits pit-masters for year-round barbecuing and smoking. Wood chips from alder, hickory, and maple trees and low-ash, even-heat mesquite and hickory pellets smolder inside smokers from Traeger, American Barbecue Systems, and Big Green Egg. Ruffs' year-round classes display the art of summery eating no matter the season, teaching students how to pack buns with pulled pork or train brisket to come when called.
Since 1979, Horizon Foods has been delivering flash-frozen and pre-portioned dinner entrees directly to front doors, window stoops, and pneumatic hover decks. Each item arrives fully prepped to heat and eat, individually wrapped, and fully trimmed and de-boned as needed. Select from proteins such as antibiotic-free chicken fingers ($79.99 for 48 2-oz. portions), divers scallops ($116.99 for 36 2-oz. portions), and buffalo burgers ($99.99 for 20 5-oz. portions) for grilling, searing, or using as an aesthetic metaphor in a diorama about 19th-century westward expansion. Pre-rolled, pre-cut, and pre-stuffed eggplant rolatini ($99.99 for 24 3.5-oz. portions) makes a palatable, pre-sized main dish for herbivores and herbivoyeurs alike. Complete portion-by-portion nutritional info is provided with each item, which lets hunger-havers avoid the time-consuming process of converting pounds into kilograms and then back into pounds.
Tatum's dishes up solace to weary stomachs with a menu of comfort fare and deli-style treats for appetite appeasement. Sink teeth into a smorgasbord of Americana, from the storied past of the fried pickle ($2) and the classic cheesesteak ($5.89 regular, $6.99 large) to the words of recessionary caution offered by the fried catfish po' boy ($7.49).
Brewing organic, fair-trade, and shade-grown beans, Kona Coffee proves its commitment to a well-balanced environment, economy, and suntan. Java jewels are sourced from poverty-stricken areas around the world, but each batch of the house's bean juice is prepared with at least 30% Hawaiian-collected Kona beans to maintain their signature taste. Sip a classic cappuccino ($2.35–$3.15) to start your day on a foamy foot, or enjoy a kona mocha ($3.15–$3.90), mint mocha ($3.15–$3.90), or caramel-apple latte ($3.15–$3.90) for a midday sweet treat. Kona's spicy and refreshing chai frappe ($3.90–$4.45) provides a tasty cool-down alternative to climbing into a freezer on a hot summer day, and fresh-fruit smoothies ($4.75, for protein powder add $0.85) make it easy to reach fruit-that-doesn't-require-teeth quotas. Barista-made beverages range between $2 and $5, and brew-it-yourself beans generally sell for $7 to $8 for half a pound and $12 to $14 for a full pound. Coffee connoisseurs or wannabeans can use this Groupon toward a bag of 100% Kona Fancy beans ($40/lb.).
On average, it takes one year to invent a sandwich that meets the standards of Jason's Deli—countless combinations of breads and filling won't ever leave the test kitchen. Those that do follow a strict set of rules: no artificial trans fat, no high-fructose corn syrup, and flavors that come from freshness rather than additives. The results can be bitten into at hundreds of locations across America. At each, difficult choices abound between reubens and spicy-ranchero chicken wraps, or between a turkey club and a New Orleans-inspired muffaletta, spread with a family-recipe olive mix. Even those who don't want a sandwich still have to make tough decisions when they approach the salad bar brimming with organic fixings.
Despite the difficulties of selection, Jason's Deli prioritizes convenience. Its stores have organized a list of gluten-sensitive selections as well as healthy kids' meals, which come with sides of organic carrots or apples as opposed to other restaurants' deep-fried lard balls. The company also advocates for emotional health as fervently as it does nutrition—its Leadership Institute hosts workshops for employees on topics ranging from conflict resolution to finances to ethics.