Dave Bohannon had a simple idea for a restaurant: he wanted to open one by the water and craft a concise menu of uncomplicated, but immaculately prepared dishes. With this vision in mind, he and his wife Alice opened Surf Burger. She honed its decor with help from local artists, creating an interior where old beach-themed paintings line the walls and surf movies play against a soundtrack of island music. Not only do the couple and their children leave their mark on the eatery’s menu and interior decor, but on its guests, as well. They often venture from their respective posts to eat, chat, and get matching tattoos with diners, forging a sense of community and transforming one-time visitors into loyal regulars.
They bolster this friendly, low-key atmosphere with casual dishes such as burgers, chili dogs, and fish tacos, as well as sweet-potato fries and quarter-pound Cajun sausages inspired by down-home southern recipes. At a full-service bar, servers pour draft beers and blend frosty tropical cocktails, which arrive before customers seated in the beachy dining room or on the outdoor, dog-friendly deck.
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.
Chefs roll fresh salmon, scallops, and barbecued eel into sushi behind Fuji’s open-air bar and send elegant platters to diners watching every slice or parties gathered in private rooms. Teriyaki-chicken or shrimp-tempura bento boxes arrive filled with neat portions of dumplings and crab rangoons to ensure that meals remain perfectly organized on the trip to the stomach. Pork or chicken cutlets are breaded and fried in the tonkatsu style, and udon or soba noodles tangle with stir-fried vegetables and fish cakes. Hibachi chefs sear filet mignon, chicken, or lobster tails to perfection to complement glasses of Japanese beer, sake, or jasmine tea from the beverage list.
Mattress Direct culls a variety of mattresses in textures ranging from firm to plush from brands such as Tempur-Pedic and Serta. Serta's iComfort, for example, evenly distributes support across the body with microsupport gel capsules nestled in its memory foam; a specialized material prevents overheating and the resulting unpleasant lava-chase nightmares. Mattress Direct's stock of bed frames, bed linens, and pillows allow patrons to assemble complete bedroom sets in one trip, and an express delivery service prevents the hassle of renting a moving truck or outfitting each leg of a new bed with a rollerblade.
The Leisure Club stocks and serves an inventive selection of wine, craft beer, coffee, and pairable edibles. Start sleepy mornings with freshly brewed Intelligentsia coffee ($2.50–$3) or up the barista artistry with a frothy cappuccino ($3.50–$4). For lunch or on-the-go munchy thoughts, nibblers can snag a custom grilled cheese ($6) or an equally grippable and grain-laden selection, such as the hammed up Amore sandwich ($9). Leisure Club's drink list has 20 vintages available by the glass ($7–$10), half glass ($4–$6), or bottomless glass ($32–$44), in addition to craft beers poured with care, compassion, and the assistance of gravity ($2.75–$6.50).
Doug Allen, who played college football for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, traded his life as a gridiron guru to become a grill master of Southern-style barbecue. Specializing in tender, golden-fried catfish ($11.50 for a six-piece dinner plate) and succulent, sauce-lathered ribs ($13.50 for 1/2-slab plate) slow-cooked over an open-pit, the Crimson Pit is a meaty haven of barbecue bliss. Dinner plates come with bread and a choice of two sides, such as classic barbecue beans, mac 'n' cheese, or the greens, a fearsome trio recently added to the roster that consists of collard, turnip, and cabbage.