Cafes in Clear Creek

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Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.

The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.

Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.

Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.

12520 Quivira Rd
Overland Park,
KS
US

Lounging feels perfectly natural at Arabian Clouds. The hookah bar remains open until as late as 3 a.m. throughout the week, encouraging passersby to stop in, gather around the glowing coals of one of the Khalil Mamoon hookahs, and enjoy a round of Arabian coffee or tea with the shisha. The lounge also plays eclectic mixes of pop, hip-hop, rock, and contemporary Arabian music, and guest DJs stop in to perform and energize crowds on the weekends.

14010 W 135th St
Olathe,
KS
US

Daniel and Selam Fikru, now husband and wife, met when they were high-school students in their native Ethiopia. They've lived in Kansas City since 1995, and together, they've helped a large following of locals try their first tastes of Ethiopian food and subsequently fall in love with its rich, distinctive spices.

The couple's traditional recipes have earned their restaurant, Blue Nile Cafe, a recommendation from KCUR FM’s Food Critics, a place on LocalEats’ Top 100 Restaurants in Kansas City list, and attention from Pitch. But their success over the past two decades hasn’t come without hard work. According to a profile by the Kansas City Star, Selam is in the kitchen by early morning six days a week, simmering meats and lentils in a medley of ginger, garlic, and rosemary. Selam’s labors yield a bounty of entrees—served atop communal platters—featuring marinated chicken and cubes of beef or lamb, as well as vegetarian feasts of lentils, potatoes, and greens. Diners scoop up dishes with pieces of injera, which is a spongy sourdough pancake.

In the dining room, cream-colored walls bear colorful paintings that remind diners of their meals' distant origins. For an additional taste of Ethiopian culture, guests can partake in a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony wherein staffers roast, grind, and brew fresh coffee to order. Guests can otherwise opt for refreshing glasses of wine out on the patio.

In addition to welcoming guests into the dining room, Blue Nile Cafe invites them into the kitchen during classes that guide students in preparing injera and other traditional dishes. The restaurant also equips pupils with spices and grains for simmering over their own trashcan fires.

13316 Metcalf Ave
Overland Park,
KS
US

Regardless of which of the hundreds of Target Portrait Studio locations you meander into, you can always count on a similar experience. Tucked into Target retail locations throughout the nation, each studio boasts a staff of professional photographers, premium lighting equipment, and advanced digital cameras. The seasoned crew takes pains to customize photo sessions to suit each customer's vision, setting up desired backgrounds and props before guiding families and high-school seniors through a mélange of poses. Afterward, customers will work with a professional to personalize their portraits with different special effects and styles, such as black and white or sepia tone. They then pick up their physical portraits at the studio in 7–10 days. If they don't feel like holding their breath that long to see the final products, they can access the images in an online gallery within 24 hours of the session, at which point they can order extra prints for gifts, collages, and greeting cards.

12200 Blue Valley Pkwy.
Overland Park,
KS
US

There is plenty to see, hear, and smell inside Ceramics & Coffee House @ Paint, Glaze & Fire. Here you’ll see rows of clay-colored mugs, vases, plates, pictures frames, and figurines next to bits of colored glass for fusion projects. Overhead a mosaic of tiles painted by customers creates a colorful ceiling, and up front an espresso bar grinds PT's coffee beans and steams milk for lattes.

Debbie, a Paint, Glaze & Fire co-owner, especially likes seeing dads painting pottery with their kids. Debbie says that while a father and his children might not talk too much while painting, they're still communicating and sharing a lot more than if they were silently sitting in a movie theatre. Plus, after painting, glass fusing, or canvas painting this family will have a something to show for it.

While fun for the whole family, Ceramics & Coffee House @ Paint, Glaze & Fire focuses on cultivating the creativity and curiosity of children. Kids' parties and summer camps actively engage youngsters, as do the bimonthly Paint Me a Story sessions, where a favorite children's book is paired with a pottery painting activity. With space to house 30 to 40 adult-size imaginations, the studio can also host corporate team-building events, girls' nights out, and other celebrations.

12683 Metcalf Ave
Overland Park,
KS
US

Jim Sheridan's custard shop is packed with old-fashioned nostalgia. And it's not just the decor ? Sheridan's desire to create and sell custard sparked from his own childhood memories of adventuring to upstate New York to get his hands on the frozen treat. Now at Sheridan's Frozen Custard, Jim not only opts to incorporate creamy chocolate and vanilla flavors topped with everything from mangoes to graham crackers to a variety candies, but he views the real cherry on top as top-grade customer service. Caramel pretzel crunch concretes, fresh-baked strawberry shortcake Sundays, and cookie dough pies further satisfy sweet tooths. For those who prefer a straw to a spoon, the shop's shakes, malts, and smoothies are there for the sipping.

After years of perfecting those frozen treats Jim set out to conquer the world of burgers. To do so, he pulled from the same old-fashioned recipe book that inspired his sweet treats. The Olathe location's new food menu is filled with American favorites, from grilled-to-order steakburgers to hand-cut fries dusted with a kiss of salt. No matter the order, each meal is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including grass-fed beef. Visitors can settle down at tables to enjoy their burgers and sandwiches or grab them to go at the convenient drive-thru.

7337 W 119th St
Overland Park,
KS
US