When Food Network producers recruited Urban Cookies for Cupcake Wars, there was one stipulation, according to the Phoenix New Times: co-founder Brady Breese had to do something about his bakery’s name. After all, the reality show pitted cupcakes, not cookies, against each other. So Breese reverted to OllieCake, the original name of his gourmet cupcake business. And as luck (or perhaps more accurately, skill) would have it, OllieCake took home the crown on its episode of Cupcake Wars. At Urban Cookies, Breese, a self-taught baker, invents all the cupcakes himself—coconut, orange blossom (a Cupcake Wars champion), and even brown velvet, which is like red velvet, except it is made without food coloring and won't attract angry bulls. But it was a dark chocolate walnut cookie that first inspired Brady and his wife Shaun to go into business. Brady had baked the so-called “Urban Cookie” for friends and family for many years to wide acclaim. With the cookie recipe as a starting point, and a pantry and fridge filled with mostly organic, local ingredients, the husband and wife team started baking in the kitchen of a local nonprofit, eventually expanding the menu to include muffins, scones, breads, pastries, and full-sized cakes by custom order. But despite their success, Brady and Shaun never forget the role the community played in their shop's early days. And so they frequently give back by supporting various area non-profits, including Kitchen on the Street, which provides meals to needy children.
Like an edible choose-your-own-adventure book, The Chill lets its visitors make their own decisions from the moment they walk through the door. Guests choose how much to draw from the stainless steel machines,filling their cups with as much creamy frozen yogurt as they like. From there, they take their pick of add-ons from the toppings bar, dappling the swirls with extras such as candies or fresh fruit. And once they've put the finishing touch on their frozen creations, they can either devour it inside at one of the cafe-style tables or take it to the patio to soften in the sun or on the radiator of a parked truck.
Daniel Wayne thinks of coffee roasting as “a serious art," but even that may be an understatement. As the owner and founder of Lola Coffee, Wayne performs all roasting in-house, relying on aromas, sounds, and his own intuition to get the delicate art down to a science. His enthusiasm for coffee has a long, passionate history. Like many before him, Daniel experienced his first love as a teenager, completely smitten by coffee’s dark, bold, and intoxicating qualities; the drink stole his heart, changed his life, and inspired him to open an espresso cart. His "all in-house" philosophy to coffee making first won over customers at Lux Coffee Bar, where Daniel's control over the perfect cup started with the roast and ended when he graced each coffee, mocha, and latte with intricate leaves, hearts, and other edible artwork; artwork that would eventually lead him to win the Millrock Latte Art Competition in Las Vegas in 2003. Today, at Lola, Daniel is still the man behind the beans—and the counter—and continues to focus on choosing, roasting, and brewing the best fair-trade, organic, and sustainable beans, possible. There, cappuccinos, café au laits, and café caramels are best enjoyed alongside one of the shop's decadent pastries, which are––true to form––made in-house.
Bret Pont honed his meat-carving skills for 25 years as a Valley Grocers butcher before buying 50-year-old Hobe Meats, he told the Arizona Republic. Behind the counter, Pont helps customers locate and prepare the ideal meat by elucidating the qualities of strip steaks, rib-eye roasts, and other cuts of USDA Prime and Choice beef. Each option originates from cows that dine exclusively on corn, grass, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. All of the shop's meats are untouched by preservatives, growth hormones, and antibiotics. This policy extends to pork and chicken, which contain neither sodium nitrates nor fillers. When fed the shop's raw, natural pet foods, dogs have been known to teach themselves new tricks.
In an interview with ABC15, Heather Powers traced her love of vintage clothing to her childhood: At the age of 6, she accompanied her family to thrift stores and made her own selections. As the owner of LollyPop vintage, Powers handpicks previously worn men's and women's fashions from the 1950s to the 1990s—one particular Nat Kaplan dress caught the attention of Becky Bartkowski's fashion-centric Gem blog on the Phoenix New Times site. Powers works alongside her mother and brother, outfitting shoppers with name-brand duds and carefully cultivating new finds from clients' closets or unearthed backyard time capsules.
Powers is a believer in the practicality and individuality of vintage, telling Haley Madden of ABC15 that it "is really for the person who wants something unique, something no one else has. It's green, you're recycling, and oftentimes the quality of a vintage piece cannot be matched for even 10 times the price." She also gives back to her local community, choosing a different charity to sponsor every month.