When Forest Mars Sr. was a boy, in 1911, he watched with rapt attention as his mother, Ethel, crafted gourmet chocolates in their kitchen. 70 years later, he honored her memory by making chocolates of his own in Henderson, Nevada, where today a small factory still whips up his mother's recipes alongside modern confections. Traditional candies mingle nuts, cr?me liqueurs, and caramels with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and truffles. Handpicked pecans float amid chocolate and butter in Ethel M's signature brittles, and milk, dark, and sugar-free chocolate envelops bite-sized treats such as espresso beans, pretzels, and fruit. Ethel M Chocolates invites visitors to tour the factory, where chocolatiers prove sweets can be made without preservatives or the witchcraft of Keebler elves, before sending candies to seven Las Vegas?area shops.
Gleaning her baking skills from her mother and grandmother, Gigi's Cupcakes' eponymous owner and founder opened her first cupcake hub in 2008, drawing upon her entrepreneurial spirit and gift for crafting beautifully topped cupcakes. The franchised cupcakery now has 80 locations, each of which churns out flavors that rotate daily and are made fresh every morning. The shop's selection of more than 30 flavors includes wedding cake, Scarlett’s red velvet, and Miss Princess. Patrons can pick out sweet treats from the daily selection or preorder them at least one day in advance online, by phone, or via singing telegram.
Chef Sergio Perez left his native Havana with his mother's recipes in tow more than 20 years ago, and he still uses them to whip together Cuban fare at The Florida Café. For the past 15 years, he's been crafting cuban sandwiches, paella, slow-roasted pork, fried cow, and shrimp enchiladas from this eatery, which calls the Howard Johnson Hotel home. He and his kitchen staff also prepare breakfast dishes such as eggs with plantains and cuban toast. Sergio augments his list of eats with live Cuban music and an array of wines and specialty cocktails, including the original mojito made with Cruzan light rum, lime juice, mint leaves, and rock-candy syrup from Mount Rushmore's four giant lollipops—gifts from Cuba.
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 1,150 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options, such as the pepperoni pretzel and eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs, slicing it into bite-size nuggets, or using it to build historically accurate Austrian villages. 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.
Pura Vida Bakery & Bystro chef and owner Mayra Trabulse has one goal: to create compassionate cuisine with a level of flavor that reflects her diverse cultural background. As she shared with Katherine Fernelius of Vegas Seven, Mayra is half Lebanese and half Cuban, and was born and raised in Mexico City. After moving to Las Vegas and attending community college, Mayra found herself unfulfilled. She decided to relocate to Florida, where she began to explore the politics of eating and her own relationship with food. She founded a catering business and became a private vegan chef before returning once more to Las Vegas to share her signature Caribbean- and Southwest-inspired dishes with Nevadans.
Mayra incorporated the Spanish phrase "pura vida" into the moniker of her eatery because it's a greeting or a farewell that can signify a sense of community and enjoying life slowly. That's exactly what she wants diners to feel at the restaurant, where she uses local, organic, fair-trade ingredients and incorporates macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, and raw-food principles in her low-temperature cooking. Mayra enhances her creations with unrefined oils and sweeteners and grinds whole spices for maximum flavor. Boasting a designated gluten-free area of her kitchen, she can cater to most any dietary restriction—Vanessa Meier of The Green Girl Next Door blog described how Mayra composed custom, on-the-fly dishes that were "beautiful and clearly prepared with so much love" for her and her husband.
And Meier isn't the only critic to take note of the blossoming restaurant: it earned Las Vegas Weekly’s 2012 Best Vegan Eating award and was named the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Dining Pick of the Week in October 2012. Mayra and her team also cater special events and bake custom vegan wedding cakes for couples being married by an Elvis wearing faux-blue-suede shoes.
With 12,000 square feet of antique furniture, vintage garments, fine china, artwork, and much more, Not Just Antiques Mart has what Frommer's described as "a vibe that bargain hunters will die for." Licensed antiques dealer Renee Poole and her daughter, Jessica, acquire entire estates to liquidate and also collect individual items from consignors. Visitors can also head to the outdoor flea market to shop in the sunlight.