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.
The talented team of taste-makers at Barb's Kolache Bakery whip up a menu starring the versatile Czech pastry. Kolaches are created daily by stuffing yeast dough with a filling that may include fruit, meat, poppy seeds, or more. Colorful fruit-topped kolaches, such as apple, blueberry, strawberry, and apricot ($1.40 each), can flavorfy bland palates while inspiring fruit-painted murals of the cast of Sesame Street. Turn meat roars into meat purrs with savory kolache varieties such as sausage and cheese or bacon and cheese ($1.70 each). Or, pacify cranky taste buds with Danish melt-a-ways, an amalgam of buttercream frosting, pecans, and streusel inside a buttery, flaky pastry shell ($2.30), or icing-slathered cinnamon rolls ($1.90). Barb's Kolache Bakery is open 6 a.m.–1 p.m. Tuesday–Friday and 7 a.m.–1 p.m. on weekends.
There is plenty to see, hear, and smell inside Ceramics & Coffee House @ Paint, Glaze & Fire. Here you’ll see rows of clay-colored mugs, vases, plates, pictures frames, and figurines next to bits of colored glass for fusion projects. Overhead a mosaic of tiles painted by customers creates a colorful ceiling, and up front an espresso bar grinds PT's coffee beans and steams milk for lattes.
Debbie, a Paint, Glaze & Fire co-owner, especially likes seeing dads painting pottery with their kids. Debbie says that while a father and his children might not talk too much while painting, they're still communicating and sharing a lot more than if they were silently sitting in a movie theatre. Plus, after painting, glass fusing, or canvas painting this family will have a something to show for it.
While fun for the whole family, Ceramics & Coffee House @ Paint, Glaze & Fire focuses on cultivating the creativity and curiosity of children. Kids' parties and summer camps actively engage youngsters, as do the bimonthly Paint Me a Story sessions, where a favorite children's book is paired with a pottery painting activity. With space to house 30 to 40 adult-size imaginations, the studio can also host corporate team-building events, girls' nights out, and other celebrations.
Though André and Elsbeth Bollier left Basel, Switzerland for Kansas City in 1955, they didn't really leave the Old World behind. Finding his adopted home bereft of fine pastries, André set out to "bring something new and exciting" to the city, as his son Marcel told the Wednesday Sun in 2011. A master pastry chef, he began selling his handcrafted swiss confections at his eponymous store, André's Confiserie Suisse. Intent on re-creating the feel of an authentic Swiss confiserie, he relied on natural ingredients and pure butter to produce his treats' signature rich flavor. Soon, André expanded his business to two tearooms festooned with the flags of several Swiss cantons.
Now joined by third-generation members of the Bollier family, André's Confiserie Suisse remains faithful to that original vision while creating new lines of seasonal and signature bites. In addition to hand-decorated caramels, fruit tortes, and freshly shelled circus peanuts, the display cases feature grand cru truffles made from single-sourced cocoa beans whose flavors reflect the soil and climate of their exotic original locales, including Madagascar and Bolivia.
Evoking the enjoyable meltiness of a cool scoop of gelato on a hot day, Paciugo Gelato takes its name from the Italian word for messy concoction, rousing palates with unique gelato flavors crafted with Old-World tastes. Founder Cristiana Ginatta’s family recipes come to life as staffers fuse fresh fruits and all-natural ingredients into decadent milk-, water-, or soy-based gelato and sorbet. The sweet scoops boast 70% less fat than regular ice cream or soft-serve obtained from chilly Alaskan cows. Patrons can test-drive the shop’s diversely flavored bounty before committing to a flavor such as carrot cake, butter pecan, or tiramisu in its less solid form. Guests can score flavors without added sugar—including strawberry milk—to trick their sweet teeth into happiness. Paciugo also carries a host of coffee drinks ranging from Paciugo Miscela, a bold Vienna roast, to Gran Crú, a light roast from Kenya.