Perkins began as a single humble Ohio pancake house in 1958. More than 50 years––and 440 national locations––later, each Perkins restaurant stays true to its roots by keeping those signature buttermilk pancakes the focal point of a 90-plus-item menu. Cooks layer the popular flapjacks in stacks of two, three, or even five and make the fluffy towers all the more tempting with toppings such as glazed strawberries, whipped cream, or flavored syrups. Breakfast favorites—including hearty omelets and country benedicts—are served all day, meaning kids and adults can order short stacks to accompany their jumbo-shrimp or steak dinner, instead of smuggling them in under a stovepipe hat. Unlike most other chain restaurants, Perkins also features in-store bakeries that churn out the shop's real fruit and cream pies, muffins, and chocolate-chip cookies.
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.
Sharing its space with a convenience store, Riverridge Mart and Grill serves freshly prepared classic diner dishes like homemade biscuits and gravy ($1.89/one; $3.69/two) in an unassuming environment, which includes laminate booths and mismatched chairs. A traditional breakfast menu features dishes such as three-egg omelets ($5.49–$5.99) and two-egg breakfast burritos ($3.89), which enhance mornings marred by a restless night spent trapped in a fold-up bed. Angus beef burgers and meaty sandwiches comprise the diner's succinct lunch menu. A gravy-laden chicken-fried-steak sandwich ($5.99) or bacon cheeseburger ($6.49) stops hunger pangs and diverts high-energy hands from their preferred pastime of finishing other people's crossword puzzles.
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.
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Mirth Café sends dour digestive systems out into the world with newly sunny demeanors. Adhering to Einstein’s theory that time is relative, the café serves breakfast all day long. Say hola to the french toast, made with cinnamon-pecan bread and topped with fresh fruit ($6.95), or feel the power of the big breakfast, two eggs flanked by potatoes, toast, and sausage or bacon ($7.95). The sandwich and wrap menu enlivens languishing lunchers with options including the brisket on marble rye ($8.95) and the garlic-herb tortilla stuffed with smoked turkey breast, cheddar cheese, dijon mustard, greens, and granny-smith apples ($7.90). Create a combo ($8.25) by pairing half of a sandwich with a soup or salad selection, bringing two worlds together like a highway paved with moon rocks.