More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesar's location, a then-unheard-of carryout-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant—today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pie designed for instant pick-up, and warm, garlicky Crazy Bread. With a storied half-century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating its own charitable programs.
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.
Young Barn Pub & Oyster Bar respectfully contests the notion that the coasts have a monopoly on oysters. They put a southwestern spin on theirs, prepping them Texas-style?baked and covered in cajun seasonings, cheese, bacon, and jalapenos. There are also Wild Bill's oysters, named for the famous gunslinger's ability to hit an oyster from 20 yards away on the shoreline. These up the seafood ante with toppings of shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat, plus bacon and mozzarella.
Purists can still get their hands on oysters Rockefeller or oysters on the half-shell, of course. And aside from shellfish, Young Barn's menu features po'boys, ribeye steaks, shrimp platters, and even pizza and pasta.
California Yogurt Kraze, under new ownership, invites guests to step up to its line of self-serve yogurt stations and pour out a tasty, low-fat dessert loaded with calcium, healthy active cultures, and rich, creamy flavor. Most of their yogurt is fat-free, with no cholesterol or preservatives, and includes four healthy yogurt cultures, as well as being safe for most diabetics and people who are lactose intolerant. With 24 yogurt flavors, and over 80 toppings, patrons scoop up spoonfuls of flavors such as cheesecake, espresso, birthday cake, cookies and cream, california tart, and Valencia orange sorbet, crowned with toppings such as pineapple, Twizzlers, brownies, or chocolate syrup.
While on vacation nearly a decade ago, college best friends Ron Savell and Chris McDonald looked across the waves in Waikiki and saw a different kind of paradise: a restaurant of their very own. Back in Montgomery, the duo opened their first Mugshots Grill & Bar in 2004, where they built their signature hamburger: ground beef round grilled medium well and served atop a toasted sourdough bun. Beer-battered fries complement burgers and other menu items such as club sandwiches at Mugshots' nine locations scattered across three states.
It's clear from The Seafood Bistro's name that the chefs specialize in foods from the ocean. It's the casual eatery's sheer range of seafood, though, that is its biggest draw. Served in simple paper baskets, the custom-prepared meals include fried oysters and claws, battered and baked fish, and shrimp po'boys drizzled with their signature Fisher's Alley sauce. Eclectic Southern sides such as bacon and cheddar-smothered fries, made from scratch red beans and rice, and seafood gumbo make for a colorful addition to each meal and hot weapons to throw at any pirates trying to steal the last bite.