Matthew Corrin was fashion designer Oscar de la Renta's marketing manager, which meant a lot of long hours at work and a lot of hurried lunches at local delis. After his umpteenth greasy sandwich, Corrin began wondering why there weren't more healthy and convenient lunch alternatives. This rumination and a resignation letter to de la Renta begot Freshii, a fast, casual eatery that serves healthy meals and has graced the pages of various publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Inc.'s 30 Under 30 list. Environmental awareness also plays a big part in the business model—even the food packaging is made from eco-friendly vegetable starches.
Every Freshii kitchen is stocked with base ingredients of brown rice, rice noodles, romaine lettuce, field greens, and spinach; toppings such as carrots, broccoli, grilled tofu, and candied walnuts; and an array of dressings and sauces. Using these ingredients, the chefs create bowls, wraps, salads, soups, and burritos for lunch and dinner. During morning hours, when the sun is still busy curling its rays, they scramble eggs, serve house-made oatmeal, and top fat-free frozen yogurt with a choice of fruit. Customers can bring their own bowls and the staff will wash them and fill them with fresh ingredients hailing from environmentally responsible farms that fairly compensate their workers.
As Pierogies Plus's chefs filter into the kitchen early each morning, they peek at the vast pot of potatoes they left to boil overnight, making sure each spud is tender and ready to tuck inside their signature dumplings. The multigenerational kitchen staff?some of whom have been making pierogies for four, five, or seven decades?roll out rounds of dough and top them with sauerkraut, kielbasa, potatoes, and other fillings, following a special recipe espoused by Food Network chef Bobby Flay. Then chefs center each dollop of filling, hand pinch the pierogies into scallop-edged crescents until they cry uncle, and cook them until the dough turns golden. Pierogies Plus dishes out its eponymous treats and other Eastern European dishes both in its McKees Rocks storefront and in an online store, and caters special events, such as graduation parties and weddings.
It sounds strange, but Dan DiZio found the perfect pretzel machine hiding in a nondescript Florida garage. Once he saw it, he knew what he had to do. With help from his friend Len Lehman, DiZio hauled the equipment back to his native Philadelphia?where as a child he once sold homemade pretzels to his neighbors. He soon opened the original Philly Pretzel Factory. Today, nearly 15 years since first opening, Philly Pretzel Factory whips up fresh batches of secret-ingredient dough across 100 locations in eight states. The pretzels are twisted by hand into salted or cinnamon-sugar pretzels and pair with the shop's signature brand of mustard, or sweet blends of chocolate and butter-cream. The menu also tucks hot dogs and spicy sausages into pretzel rolls, and dusts salt on "rivets," or soft pretzel bites, which can top party trays or bind the masts of gravy boats.
In the studio of Allen Stoneware Gallery, nine pottery wheels stand still, each waiting for a student to throw his or her first project. When pupils pour in, these wheels spin into action. Hands get messy, brows furrow, and vases spin into their intended shapes. After a trip to the kiln and a quick rub to free any accidentally-trapped genies, the dishes are ready to be taken home.
This is just one type of class offered at the Gallery, where artist Vickie Allen-Shea draws upon 38 years of art-making and art-teaching experience to make the community a little more vibrant. In addition to throwing and sculpting lessons, as well as casual BYOB workshops, her studio serves as a boutique. Shoppers can take home one-of-a-kind dishes and figures, or commission a custom-designed piece made to match their vision.
Beneath the bright arrow that pivots around Tack's small sign, the quaint facade protects the home of a host of well-loved sandwiches, housemade sides, and famous Cream Smoothie sodas. Daily specials include hot dog Tuesdays and dollar cheeseburgers—which have one-dollar bills for lettuce—all day Saturday. These specials join a lineup of hot sandwiches and even a kids menu.
Inspired by her Jewish family heritage, Susan Herlands opened My Mother's Delicacies Inc. in 1988 to share her grandmother's respected rugelach recipe and other traditional treats that are certified kosher dairy. Shoppers can peruse an assortment of the coveted, hand-rolled rugelach ($14.99/lb.), a crescent- or square-shaped pastry crafted using a buttery, flaky, cream-cheese-infused crust and speckled with cinnamon, sugar, or nuts. A pound of Hungarian hand-rolled kipfel cookies ($14.99) bubbles over with raspberry, walnut, or apricot fillings, and a small tin of black and white cookies ($21.95) dazzles dessert lovers with a duochromatic treat as decadent as snacking on a 1920s film star. The shop sells pastries individually and by the pound as well as platters and gift towers sizeable enough for parties or a high tea with longtime frenemy Betty Crocker.