The Cookie Store helps its customers to satisfy their sweet teeth with an extensive assortment of fresh-baked cookies and seven types of smoothies. From classics such as chocolate chip to more inventive flavors including snickerdoodle, honey oatmeal raisin walnut, and heath-bar toffee, The Cookie Store’s bakers concoct a spread of delicious bite-size treats daily. In addition to cookie trays and tins, bakers create custom cookie cakes in a variety of different shapes, including hearts and circles that can be decorated with birthday messages, cartoon characters, or interpretations of Jackson Pollock masterworks.
Crafting notably delectable frozen treats in small batches, Marble Slab Creamery's scoopers whip up treats and waffle cones onsite to percolate palates with superpremium ice cream studded with more than 35 mix-ins. Like tax forms, chef-inspired concoctions are prepared on frozen marble slabs to ensure optimal freshness and easy customization.
Gigi of Gigi's Cupcakes has been a self-starter since she was 15. That's when she began her first business—a cleaning company—because she "didn't want to work for anyone else." What began as a youthful whim blossomed into a business that, along with waiting tables and singing professionally, carried Gigi into her 30s.
Then, one day, her brother suggested making a career out of her baking hobby. That pastime had been born in her childhood, when Gigi often spent time with her mother and grandmother as they baked and bonded. So, amid seemingly insurmountable financial constraints, Gigi unveiled Gigi's Cupcakes in 2008 and, within weeks, had more than covered her bills. Today, the franchise boasts more than 50 locations in the 18 states that haven't outlawed dessert.
Each bakery crafts its cupcakes daily with fresh ingredients, and updates the menu according to day of the week and season. Traditional summer flavors such as Scarlett's Red Velvet, chocolate-chip-cookie dough, and Birthday Surprise have recently met their culinary match in new mini cheesecakes that masquerade as cupcakes to rebel against their conservative wedding-cake parents.
As a child, CeCe looked forward to her family’s summertime trips to North Carolina, where she could reconnect with faraway relatives over cookouts. One of her fondest memories from this time is making homemade blackberry ice cream with her Grandma Ruby. Years later, CeCe would look back on these days with nostalgia; she dreamt of opening a business that would bring families together over a tasty summertime treat.
In 2008, her dream became a reality with the opening of Sweet CeCe’s. Like wig salesmen to the Constitutional Convention, families flocked to the self-serve frozen-yogurt shoppe, where they could create their own desserts from dozens of yogurt flavors and toppings. The small shoppe got so popular that CeCe franchised the business. Today, families in 11 states can create sweet memories within the sherbet-colored walls of a Sweet CeCe’s.
Adults sip gourmet coffee as they unleash their children onto elaborate play equipment within Sodium's spacious facility, which also hosts labs for kids to experiment with art, music, and technology. Seated atop posh leather couches gripping steaming cups of freshly brewed lattes, cappuccinos, or mochas, parents watch their offspring scramble up wooden rungs and into a towering tree fort within Sodium’s cheerful yellow walls. Equipped with rock walls for older kids and complex mock villages complete with imagination-fostering grocery stores, diners, and credit unions for preschool entrepreneurs, Sodium’s play space caters to young explorers of all ages and interests. In addition to freeform playtime, kids supplement academics with organized workshops such as math and science tutoring, as well as raucous drumming, messy arts and crafts, and stimulating discussions about relativity.
In addition an extensive variety of bean-juice beverages with Zoka Coffee (which won the coveted Macro Roaster of the Year award from Roast Magazine in 2007), Maxximo Jo's offers a full menu of tea, specialty cold drinks, smoothies, freshly made gelato, sorbetto, and baked goods. Actors playing grooms get in character over the intermingling of white and dark chocolate in the tuxedo ($3.45/sm), while real-life brides gulp white-chocolate mocha frappes ($3.65/sm) to make dress trains perky enough to hover above the ground. For a classic fix, slurp the silky combination of steamed milk and espresso in a café latte ($2.85 for a small), or treat tasters to a walk on the wild side with a mocha valencia (dark chocolate with a twist of orange, $3.45/sm). Wake from dreams of cows balancing papayas on their noses with 100% fruit peach-pear-apricot smoothies ($3.80/sm) or Maxximo Jo's large selection of fresh gelato and sorbetto flavors ($4 for 6 oz. cup), often featuring favorites such as pistachio, guava, and caramel.