Starting in 1982 and for years after that, the original owner of The Pantry Restaurant, Sherri Mraz, treated droves of loyal customers to hearty homestyle dishes pulled from her grandmother's favorite recipes. The food, which included classic American eats such as chicken-fried steak, patty-melt burgers, and pecan and apple pies, was so treasured that current owners Tom and Cleo Meredith continue to serve it.
When Sherri first opened it, The Pantry Restaurant was located on South Tennessee Street in historic downtown McKinney. Now, it's located in the confines of the historic Hope Hardware building, built in 1898.
The building's original brick walls and hardwood floors make the perfect backdrop for guests sipping soda-fountain milkshakes or learning old-timey cusswords such as "horse's pompadour" or "pickled peaches." The historic building also serves as a charming wedding venue, with food catered by The Pantry Restaurant.
On any given day, Sarah Halterman can be found making handbags, corsets, baseball jerseys, or guitars—out of cake. Once an elementary schoolteacher, she founded Sweet Art Bakery in 2007 as an outlet for her love of custom baking. Today, she leads a team of five design assistants who help her turn 10 cake flavors such as dark chocolate, red velvet, strawberry, and spice into works of art suited to her customers' specifications and interests. She breathes life into her treats with 10 types of filling and icing, which include raspberry preserves, peanut-butter mousse, and chocolate buttercream. When not crafting custom cakes or their miniature cupcake cousins, Sarah fashions butter-citrus sugar cookies into the shapes of hats, owls, and snowmen, rolls cake balls and profiteroles, and dips strawberries in chocolate. She also leads monthly cake-decorating classes which, though geared toward beginners, also teach experienced bakers how to execute advanced kitchen moves or protect cakes from impatient guests by disguising them as scary predators.
Ben & Jerry's came from humble beginnings—in 1978, its eponymous founders served ice cream out of a renovated Burlington gas station, and delivered pints of their now-classic flavors to grocery stores out of the back of Ben's VW Squareback wagon. Today, its myriad shops dispense cups, cones, shakes, and smoothies brimming with a variety of quirky flavors, including Phish Food and Cherry Garcia, named for famous revolutionary Cherry Garcia. The duo is also famous for their social responsibility, which is evident in their community activism and in their use of fair-trade products, such as cage-free eggs and sustainable, growth-hormone-free dairy.
Palio’s Pizza Café may boast multiple locations, but the cuisine is unique to each kitchen. The restaurant’s chefs commit to serving specialty pizzas on handmade dough, crafted from high-protein, red-bran wheat. They top this crust with all-natural marinara and pizza sauces, real mozzarella cheese, and farm-fresh produce. The blending of fine ingredients produces some classic and more unusual pies, ranging from a meat lover’s with four staple pizza proteins to a pie that combines roasted flavors of poultry and cashews.
Of course, the restaurant’s commitment to quality doesn’t end with their food. They also invest time in making community events special. They regularly participate in fundraisers for high-school bands, charities such as the Arthritis Foundation, and local Scout troupes and chicken coops.
In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 13 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day lava-powered ovens warm up batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, pecan praline, and white-chocolate raspberry remain constants on the menu, and a new flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all frosted with a signature blend of cream cheese and butter.
Each Nothing Bundt Cakes location also houses its own stock of gifts. Patrons may come across the brightly hued handle of a confetti cake knife or opt to take home an old-fashioned tin, perfect for stowing coffee and imprisoning gingerbread men who have tried to run away. Contact the location of your choice for gift pricing and availability.
After being widowed in 1982, Ruby Lorraine Feagan, better known as Tootie, began supporting her family one pie at a time, building her reputation as she won a succession of baking contests throughout Texas hill country. Investor Don Merrill came into the fold after reading a flattering article in Southern Living magazine and subsequently tasting one of Tootie's crusty, buttery, 6-pound apple pies. Today, Tootie and her daughter continue to ensure the quality of Tootie Pie Co. Gourmet Caf?'s 13 signature pie flavors ? which also include lemon velvet, coconut supreme, and the Rachael Ray?praised pumpkin pie ? as they're carefully crafted and delivered to customers' homes nationwide. The bakery's burgeoning fame has extended to the Food Network's Kid in a Candy Store, which featured Tootie's pie-on-a-stick, slices of signature desserts skewered and dipped in chocolate.
Inside Tootie's caf?, the menu of gourmet sandwiches includes sweet chicken salad with red grapes and pecans and italian grilled chicken panini with roasted red pepper and pesto or chipotle mayo. Sips of house coffee and espresso-based Milan mochas clear palates between bites better than vigorously shaking them Etch A Sketch?style.