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.
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.).
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.
Cold Stone's ice cream inhabits a quantum flux between soft-serve and traditional ice cream, with a rich, creamy texture that whispers tales of its super-premium quality as it glides over taste buds. The ice cream generously welcomes dozens of toppings, as traditional as crumbled cookies and chopped nuts or as quirky as granola and black licorice. Choose your favorite ice cream from among dozens of silky flavors, such as Irish cream and butter pecan. Then make certain no one will try and steal a taste by topping it protectively with brownies, gumballs, and cherry pie filling. Whatever Frankencream you create, it'll be scooped cold off the grill into a freshly made waffle cone or bowl. Cold Stone's ice cream and toppings vary between seasons and location, and they also offer sorbet and an array of lighter toppings such as fruit and honey. Ice-cream creations run between $4 and $6, depending on size.
Stocking a vast selection that features nearly a hundred sauces, over 150 spices and rubs, and natural hardwoods ranging from cherry to mesquite, Ruff's 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. Ruff's 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.