The purveyors of literary pleasure at Signs of Life enable learning and leisure through an expansive collection of printed-word wares, delectable café snacks, and local art pieces. Dabble in fiction with Fyodor Dostoevsky's classic novel, Crime and Punishment ($5.99), or acclimate yourself with American history by reading David McCullough's 1776, a riveting account of how George Washington led almost 2,000 men into battle to defeat the Duke Blue Devils on a last-second three-pointer by Paul Revere ($14.99, paperback). Ecclesiastically curious guests can peruse one of many theologic selections, such as Augustine for Armchair Theologians by Stephen Cooper ($13.99), while sipping a tasty bean-based beverage at Signs of Life’s convivial café. For even more aesthetic enjoyment, art-magnets can scurry over to Signs of Life’s adjoining art gallery, featuring the work of more than a dozen local and national artists in a charming space.
Z's satisfies caffeine cravings and general rumblings with an abundance of organic drinks and treats at its two locations. Take an aromatic journey through the 12 bulk bins of whole beans roasted on-site each week ($9.99+/lb.), or sidle up to a specialty drink, such as the Rocky Raccoon, a frappé fused with chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel ($4.10 for a big). Non-joe options include a tasty assortment of smoothies (sans high-fructose corn syrup) and tea, in addition to hearty breakfast chomps. Guilt-free sips and sudden urges to commune with nature are all courtesy of Z's Divine Espresso's commitment to sustainable practices, such as recycling used coffee grounds as free fertilizer for local farmers and gardeners.
Juice Stop uses fresh, nutritious ingredients to whip up their low-temperature, high-energy smoothies ($3.26–$4.35). Make over your morning routine with a Coaches' Choice smoothie (non-fat milk, chocolate, yogurt, and cappuccino mix), or jog through a Single Track (watermelon, raspberry, mango, strawberry, yogurt, sherbet). Protein-packed options such as the Bench Press (banana, strawberry or chocolate, with muscle powder and protein) are hearty enough to replace a meal or glue the legs of a G.I. Joe onto a Barbie. All smoothies are blended from scratch (no mixes are used) and fresh veggie and tropical fruit options are available as well.
A haven for calorie-conscious scoopable sweets, 3 Spoons Yogurt unlocks inner dessert artistry by inviting guests to sculpt and accessorize their own statues of frosty refinement. Self-service yogurt stations allow custard custodians to customize orders of peach-mango-tart, New-York–cheesecake, and other fun flavors that, like black-market wig shipments, are priced by weight ($0.39 per ounce). Candy cartographers can chart their own courses at 3 Spoons' toppings bar, sprinkling their creamy creations with landmasses such as cookie continents, Gummy Bear buoys, and Butterfinger meteorites chipped from giant candy-bar comets.
Each morning, Eileen’s team of bakers constructs fully formed confectionary feasts from scratch out of primordial balls of fresh cookie dough. Guests can engineer the dessert DNA for their perfectly crisped disks from 12 classic flavors, including oatmeal scotchie, peanut butter chocolate chip, and M&M. A colorfully decorated 3-inch cookie makes the perfect plug for the 3-inch hole in your appetite’s precarious dam ($0.75). Feed a larger crowd with a dozen 3-inch cookies ($4), or charm your bus stop regulars with a more appropriately colossal 16-inch selection ($16). Eileen’s ovens stay at the ready for short notice orders, and custom decorating is also available for any size. While Eileen’s boasts locations in several states, each store is locally owned and operated, ensuring that all cookies speak colloquial Kansan.
Cafe Beautiful owner and sole chef Melinda Roeder fashions artfully arranged Asian fusion cuisine for diners who like to eat with their eyes just as much as they like to eat with their mouths. “The presentation,” she says in a profile piece by LJWorld.com, “is just as important as how it tastes.” At Cafe Beautiful, each multi-course meal feels more like an extravagant event than an ordinary restaurant visit, stretching over hours as guests take in a parade of plates that may include savory Korean custards or spicy sushi with a Thai pepper sauce.
Cafe Beautiful’s expansive windows unveil picturesque views of the outside hustle and bustle on Massachusetts Street while its intimate dining room warmly embraces guests with its candlelit setting, bursting decorative foliage, and local artwork. In the aforementioned LJWorld.com article, Chef Roeder decries the culture of rushing customers before they can savor their food or fold their napkins into swans, stating, “We eat at such a rapid rate…and sometimes you feel pushed out by restaurants waiting to get another table. That’s not the experience you have here.”