Ron Haynes and his daughter, Jessie, have built a business from smiling faces. They don't snap yearbook photos or transform dentist gloves into balloon animals. Instead, they helm teeth-whitening shops that brighten smiles in 20 minutes. Since 2005, they have brightened over 50,000 smiles annually across five states. The locations in North Carolina offer either convenience at their South Park Mall kiosk or privacy at their office locations. Armed with Beaming White, a special light activated gel teeth-whitening system that pairs a peroxide-based gel with a UV-free LED light, their team of technicians helps clients brighten their choppers with an applicator pen. An applicator pen exposes the teeth so the gel and light reach every inch of enamel. Once the light unites with the gel, coffee, tea, and grass stains begin to vanish. Teeth continue to lighten after the treatment, achieving a color that's 3-7 shades whiter over the course of 24 hours. With proper care, results can last up to 12 months, or roughly the time it takes to adapt the phonebook into a comedic opera.
Everyone knows there's no place like home. Which is why the owners of Steel City Pizza Company decided to bring their hometown down South with a menu of Pittsburgh-inspired eats. They fly in hoagie rolls from Cellone's Bakery—an official partner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates—to ensconce their submarine sandwiches. They have staffers roll out house-crafted pizza dough to the particular thickness they recall from their childhood memories. And they make sure their extensive selection of craft beers includes bottles and drafts from Pittsburgh's own Iron City brewery. But the eatery's Pittsburgh theme isn't its only draw; creative recipes and quality ingredients back each item on the menu. Cooks craft both pizza sauce and sweet, bubbly sodas in-house, and carefully sprinkle crusts with quality Grande cheese from Wisconsin. They also concoct original dishes such as Weggies, oven-baked sandwiches in which slices of bread, like the wheels on most pizza delivery trucks, are replaced with disks of crusty baked dough.
Dessert refuses to be an afterthought at Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream & Sandwich Cafe. More than 30 ice-cream flavors—repeatedly lauded by the Charleston City Paper and Moultrie News—pile atop cones or blend into milk shakes, and classic banana splits make mouths water with their pecans and cherries. The café’s scoops of amaretto cherry or java chunk are generous, living up to the vision of Rod Lapin, who opened the first Ye Ole Fashioned in 1972 with the idea of making customers’ jaws drop at the size of his portions.
Today, at more than half a dozen locations, including one helmed by his daughter Becki and her husband, that hasn’t changed. Ten strips of bacon layer the café’s signature BLTs; chili-laden, all-beef hot dogs weigh down their buns; and the plates are required to start lifting weights regularly before they’re allowed to carry double-decker sandwiches or burgers.
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 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop?s reputation grew, and 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&M?s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
North Charleston runs in the blood of Cork Neighborhood Bistro?s proprietor, Tradd Ashley Gibbs, whose South Carolina roots stretch back for generations. As the seasons change, so do the dishes and the ingredients that go into his menu of southern-style comfort fare and seafood. Executive Chef Heather Edwards mixes up hearty pots of shrimp and grits with smoked sausage and tasso gravy and uses seasonal veggies to adorn dishes with all the flair of a peacock wearing a tropical fruit hat.
Feed starving eye sockets with visions of North Towne's talented chefs grilling away in the open kitchen, or let the fire come to you with kasseri cheese flamed at your table and served with pita wedges ($7.95). Greek spices and lemon sauce perfume broiling sea scallops and tire out tongues just in time for naps in accompanying beds of steak fries ($17.95). Purists can opt for skewers of lamb licked by the flames for North Towne's namesake grill ($17.95). Those with a taste for something less common can venture into an order of moussaka—baked layers of eggplant, seasoned beef, and creamy cheese sauce ($14.50). Other nosh options include crab, shrimp, roasted chicken, what your neighbor ordered, and steak entrees.