“I really enjoy the people and their warmth,” Gary Scott told a reporter for the North Liberty Leader. “They are so friendly here.” Scott was speaking about the locals in Ely, where his eponymous restaurant--Scott’s Sandwich Cafe--just moved. From this new location, Scott and his staff continue to combine fresh ingredients atop grilled ciabatta, marble rye, and wheat-berry bread, but now hand their creations to neighbors instead of mall-goers. Their mouthwatering sandwiches create a lunchtime rush as workers unplug computer cords from their foreheads and head to the intimate café for medleys of roasted pork, smoked ham, and honey mustard or grilled chicken and bleu cheese. Also popular are Scott’s new twists on old favorites, such as a grilled PB&J or a classic Reuben enlivened with turkey. In addition to sandwiches, the café dishes up quesadillas and salads, and its ice cream and smoothies keep customers cool on summer days filled with walking over coals.
It's not easy to find blue marlin, bright-red ahi tuna, and Japanese yellowtail in North Liberty, Iowa. But that doesn't stop the chefs at Kyodai Japanese Grill, who fly in fresh fish from Hawaii every week to star in their creative sushi rolls. The chefs work at an open sushi bar, where they prepare their rolls in front of a captive audience. That said, they often find themselves competing for attention with their counterparts who dice, flip, and cook shrimp and steak over at the hibachi grills.
From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
When looking for a quiet spot, customers turn to The High Ground Cafe. Whether seated on the patio or in the airy cafe, they can set up shop with their computer, a cup of fair trade Kickapoo Coffee Roaster brew, and a light snack. The menu includes plenty of tasty offerings, such as the flavorful turkey mango sandwich or a cup of Italian wedding soup.
Every day, Orange Leaf’s self-serve fountains dispense fresh batches of nutritious frozen yogurt in more than 60 varieties. In the sprightly lime-green and burnt-orange parlor, customers fill their bowls or bottomless magician hats with flavors ranging from pomegranate to caramel to wedding cake, laying a dulcet foundation for all manner of toppings from the buffet. There, they adorn their creamy treats with fresh fruits, nuts, and syrups. Unlike other ice creameries that try to confuse health-conscious customers by listing nutrition information in arcane units of measurement, such as "a smidge of calories" or "an earful of saturated fat," Orange Leaf prominently displays its yogurt’s impressive low-fat, low-sugar stats.
From its humble beginnings in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938, Dairy Queen has grown from a delicious experiment in soft-serve ice cream to a household name with more than 5,900 restaurants around the world. Marshalltown saw its first Dairy Queen open in 1947, one of the first 100 shops to open in the U.S. Owned and operated by the Wollam family, this founding ice-cream shop still resides in the same building employees started selling sweet treats from 65 years ago.
The shop's signature frozen delights are built upon frosty foundations of creamy chocolate or vanilla soft serve, which swirl idyllically into cones, cups, sundaes, Peanut Buster parfaits, and the chain's iconic Blizzard treats, blended with crumbled candy and other mix-ins. Ice-cream cakes cleverly conceal surprise fillings of fudge and chocolate crunch between layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, providing sweet, sliceable sustenance for birthday parties and other special occasions.
Fruit rules the roost on the other side of the shop where Orange Julius blends its signature frothy drinks crafted from fruit juice, ice, and a "magic” powdered sweetener that makes it disappear from most customers’ cups minutes after their first sip. Real fruit purée forms the basis for their smoothies, which also come in diet-friendly light versions that boast one-third fewer calories than regular ones.