Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
MeMa's Bakery whips up traditional tastes, with sweet treats and lunch items made on-site daily. Named after owner Loraine Waldeck's sister's mother, MeMa's prides itself on being family owned, operated, and oriented. Sink your sweet teeth into a playfully decorated, hand-cookie-cuttered sugar cookie ($1.69), or one of MeMa's signature pastries, such as the traditional English-walnut povitica ($2.99 per slice), authentic German apple or cherry strudel ($2.49 per slice), or the Chateau Avalon ($3.99)—a giant cinnamon roll that's FDA approved for small and medium people too. MeMa's pastries may be purchased individually or in assorted trays ($16.99–$54.99, depending on tray size and pastry choice).
Aunt Mary's Cookies whips up cakes, cookies, and lunches from scratch in its locally owned kitchen. Aunt Mary’s baking virtuosos dot a variety of Aunt Mary's signature cookies with chocolate chunks, buttered pecans, and smooth icing ($13–$18/dozen), and crown cupcakes with three-dimensional rosebuds and other feats of frosting artistry. Custom cakes of every shape and theme celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and successfully contested parking tickets. Quell midday hunger with one of Aunt Mary’s daily hot-lunch specials ($6.95), including meatloaf, taco salad, and other temperate treats. Six varieties of freshly baked bread, including sourdough and marble rye, highlight personalized sandwiches, which also give diners the option of five cheeses and five spreads.
It took three years for Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffeehouse to go from a concept to a full-fledged baked-goods business. Much of that time was devoted to making sure the all-vegan menu didn't skimp on taste, texture, and style. Today, three years after opening, thousands of Facebook fans attest to the virtue of their patience.
Each day, the Mud Pie bakers whip a variety of baked goods including one or two kinds of cupcakes, choosing from two dozen flavors. Staples such as vanilla, peanut butter, and german chocolate mix with more experimental flavors including french toast, strawberry lemonade, and s'mores. Diners wash down cupcakes and sweet and savory baked goods with mexican hot cocoa, homemade chai, or speciality coffee drinks. Gluten-free versions of many of their products are also available and made daily.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's confectionary wizards whip up a tempting array of chocolates, toffees, truffles, and classic caramel apples. The old-fashioned tart treats, made from crisp granny smith apples plunged into hand-made caramel, give fruit soldiers a key tactical advantage in the upcoming produce wars. With four crunchy apples per Groupon and no limit on how many you can buy, there's no reason not to give stool pigeon apples a caramel disguise that's more delicious than any offered by the Witness Protection Program.