On the Gather McKinney website, mother-daughter pair Jennifer Klassen and Crystal Bryant claim to "know no strangers." That's because everyone who steps into Gather McKinney—the pair's event venue—becomes part of the celebration. The space has hosted weddings, receptions, and showers, all with the help of a trained staff that plans as many or as few details as the client needs. They can handle everything from the ceremony to the seating arrangements, or simply find the right flowers to suit a color scheme. Outside of matrimony, Gather McKinney uses almost any excuse to throw a party, including corporate networking meetings, bar mitzvahs, and festivities for traditional and obscure holidays alike.
Though the space's decor can be customized, Gather most often features a mix of rustic and Victorian aesthetics. Inside, an exposed brick wall meets an embossed tin ceiling, which glitters with Swarovski crystal chandeliers. Plants sprout from Roman-style urns or sport Christmas lights. Even the smallest touches demand hands-on attention, such as the twine wrapped around the silverware sets.
The silverware is far more than a decoration, however. Guests make good use of their forks for each meal, when Mexican, Italian, or down-home dinner entrees grace the tables. Gather also serves homemade lunch every Thursday through Saturday, where the sandwich selection includes a pastrami reuben and the Monte Crispo—turkey breast and gouda cheese between jalapeño cornbread, dipped in egg batter and flash-fried. On Sundays, there's a BYOB brunch buffet with a scrambled-egg bar and pecan french-toast casserole.
Like a surname, a collection of family recipes often gets passed from one generation to the next. That's certainly the case at Brother's Pizza, which not only has a familial reference in its name, but its chefs also rely on third-generation recipes to make their authentic Italian dishes. One main draw is the restaurant's New York-style pizza, famous for its thin crust and ability to hail any cab when flung at the windshield. In 2013, it was ranked #1 in a local pizza crawl. Brother's diners can fill up on many pizza combinations inspired by the Big Apple, or on more than 10 other gourmet pizzas. Pastas with chicken and seafood are also hits here, and a BYOB policy makes it easy to sip a favorite drink with dinner.
With its casual dining atmosphere and rustic Old World cooking, Amato's Trattoria embraces the charm of Italian family-style eating. The chefs adhere to tradition by making pasta as well as meatballs in-house, lending a bit of homespun flavor to the menu?s assortment of classic Italian and Italian-American entrees. These iconic dishes appear alongside Sicilian-style pizzas, which diners can customize by adding as many as 19 different toppings?including everything from garlic and artichoke hearts to sausage and jalape?os. The dessert options manage to span both sides of the Atlantic by featuring traditional cannoli and tiramisu as well as New York-style cheesecake.
Coffee Squared's Cuvee-trained baristas steam and beautify specialty drinks with skill as they multitask to craft pastries and sandwiches. Rich coffee ($1.75–$2.25) widens the drooping eyelids of patrons as steam billows up from piping-hot cups of organic Mighty Leaf tea ($2.05–$2.45) plucked from sustainable farms. Iced white mochas ($3.95–$4.25) send energizing chills down spines as masterfully brewed espresso and sweet cocoa tango down throat chutes. Guests can feel free to sink into sumptuous leather club chairs to work remotely or look up their elvish pseudonym on Coffee Squared's free WiFi network while gobbling up sandwiches and pastries ($1.75–$5) from a rotating menu. The list of hunger quenchers showcases such treats as cranberry blondies and kolacky—fruit poised in buttery dough rounds. Red brick peeks out from behind strategically destroyed drywall in the cozy cafe, creating an artistic canvas on which contemporary paintings hang and at which guests can look while daydreaming or free associating about masonry, freemasonry, the Founding Fathers, and mothers that have a tendency to get lost.