So established is Circle K that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for—fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Café, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including Ball Park hot dogs. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with Premium Coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
Led by executive chef Erik Reynolds, who was voted Best Chef in 2011 by Urban Tulsa Weekly readers, Smoke on Cherry Street's experienced chefs take locally sourced ingredients and transform them into culinary works of art. An ever-evolving menu showcases the creativity chefs unleash on ingredients heckled for at local farmers’ market, which often results in refined takes on American classics such as crispy quail legs and crab-stuffed fried green tomatoes. While munching on the contemporary fare, diners can visually gorge on local artwork and the flat-screen TVs that line the exposed brick walls of the dining room. Within that dining room, incandescent light illuminates traditional table settings, spinach stuck in strangers' teeth, and lounge-style seating.
While its cuisine occupies a rightful place in the spotlight, Smoke's beating heart is its rugged cigar room, where smokers can puff away on cigars purchased onsite or brought from home. Wood-paneled walls and leather furniture surround a humidor filled with cigars from international brands including Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta. The room also comes equipped with a ventilation system that replenishes smoky air with the same fresh oxygen mixture Jennifer Lopez breathes eight times every hour.
On a quest to spread their knowledge of tea’s health benefits, owners Larry and Tamara Rhoads have shared tea with more than 300,000 Teaoli customers. They choose loose-leaf teas from the world over—black Assam tea from Indian plantations, green blends from Japan and China, and exotic herbals from the White House’s lawn. The teas aren’t the only well-traveled items resting on Teaoli’s shelves. Making the trek from Modena and Tuscany, cold-pressed 100% extra-virgin olive oils and white and dark balsamic vinegars smuggle in flavors ranging from smooth and savory to fruity and sweet. All of the balsamics develop their flavors in barrels made of oak, chestnut, cherry, and ash, where they steep with ingredients such as dark chocolate, black cherry, and fig. All of these flavors can be sampled in-store as knowledgeable employees stand ready to answer questions and relay the health benefits and uses of tea, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
Pieces of split hickory tumble into the bottom of the smoker. On the racks above, chefs lay on freshly trimmed cuts of meat—including beef brisket, pork shoulder, and tenderloin—to braise for up to 12 hours in the velvety smoke. A veteran of the pipe-fabrication business who builds his own smokers in his spare time, Steve Ohman knew what he wanted when shopping for his two commercial smokers, which have anchored Stone Mill BBQ and Steakhouse since it opened in 2003.
But other aspects of the restaurant also bear his personal stamp. All of the menu's meats and seafood come spiced in Ohman's own blend of seasonings, and he built the restaurant's wood tables from scratch with the help of his wife and kids. The restaurant's rustic yet elegant decor of exposed wooden trusses, split-log furnishings, and a wagon-wheel-turned-chandelier complement the main dining space's stone double fireplace.
Each Candyopolis is home to over 1,000 different varieties of sweets, with everything from old-fashioned Depression-era favorites such as licorice Herbert Hoovers and "chewing dirt" to the latest wave of sugary and sour confections (Toxic Waste sour candy, $1.99). Retro sweet teeth will delight at the sight of Abba Zabba candy bars ($1.49), Big Hunk ($1.49), and the Holy Trinity for chewing connoisseurs: Beeman's, Blackjack, and Clove Gum ($1.50 each). Imported and domestic chocolates cohabitate peacefully in neighboring bulk bins, while insurgent bands of gummy worms build IEDs out of Pop Rocks ($0.89) and plot a military coup over Candyopolis's ruling class of imported Haribo gummy bears ($3.99/half pound), which also come dipped in chocolate ($4.99/half pound). With 48 flavors of Jelly Bellies ($5.99/half pound), 50 unique PEZ dispensers ($2.49 each), and 21 colors of M&Ms ($5.99/half pound), each year Candyopolis exports a colorful crop of treats directly to the bellies of local children, children-at-heart, and hopelessly misinformed health nuts everywhere.
Sara Brinson loved making cupcakes with her family and friends. When she died unexpectedly in 2007, a cupcake bakery seemed a fitting way to honor her memory. Since then, executive chef Eric Smith has assembled a menu of 21 original, seasonally inspired cupcake recipes. Rather than being slathered with inches of frosting, each treat conveys its unique flavor profile with elegant minimalism. A single blueberry perches on pristine buttercream, a cluster of toasted marshmallows sits like a cloud that drifted too close to the sun atop a cocoa-puff-inspired creation, and a ring of br?l?ed pineapple perfectly fits an upside-down-style cakelet.
Customers stopping in to pick up special orders for weddings or parties might still be tempted to sit and enjoy the sweet smells for a while inside the bakery?s two cafes, one a dollhouse of a cottage in Edmond, and the other a mod-styled, royal-frosting-white downtown space. Both locations reach out to their communities in a variety of ways, from selecting charities to benefit with their sales to date-night and family events.