Inside the historic, 145-year-old building, dozens of teapots and accessories collected by current owner Mary Ann Waldorf line curtain-swathed shelves. Whether joining friends for a luncheon, purchasing some specialty foods and gift baskets, or savoring high tea in the Angel Room, visitors of the tin-ceilinged teahouse find themselves transported to what seems like another time and place. Teapots, purchasable jewelry, and seasonal tea blends may not be the only Gourmet Junction dwellers; local mediums say the ghosts of Plainfield's first inhabitants tread the hardwood floors.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
The cakes that emerge from City Life Bakery are more like tasty sculptures that are carefully constructed in shapes and colors of all kinds. Fondant-covered elephants and cartoon princesses headline kids' birthday parties, while elegant tiers topped in flowers serve as the perfect accompaniment to a wedding. More everyday options include colorful cupcakes, cups of coffee, and even gourmet deli sandwiches that help sweet teeth transition back into the realm of savory.
When putting together the decor at C U Latte Cafe, it would seem that its designers started with a white box and went from there. But, this blank basis makes the colors within it stand out in sharp contrast. The red of a woman's dress in a local artist's painting. The brown of the leather sofa. The pink of a cup of frozen lemonade. The menu is similarly simple, focusing on the necessities of a café visit: a cup of steaming coffee, a light sandwich, and a laptop to spill it all on. Patrons may choose to take their drinks indoors, surrounded by artwork and decorative reeds, or nestle around the patio's intimate table.