Hot Dogs Plus Cafe N' Cones recalls an old-fashioned ice-cream stand, with bright yellow brick walls, a walk-up dairy bar, and a menu of classic American carnival treats. Cheerful servers bustle about behind the counter, doling out freshly made foot-long coney dogs, pulled-pork sandwiches, and fried-green tomatoes. They swirl more than 50 flavors of soft-serve ice cream, and shower sundaes in hot caramel and salted nuts.
The Winans family has been making lives a little sweeter for more than a century. During the Great Depression, townspeople would flock to the family’s bakery in Piqua with their sugar rations. Owner Wayne Winans would take that sugar and turn it into freshly baked cookies—a small pick-me-up at a time when even small pick-me-ups were a luxury. Years later, Wayne’s sons, Max and Dick, carried the family torch into the 1960s, when the first Winans Fine Chocolates & Coffees was born.
Today, the Winans family continues to do what it does best at three Ohio locations. All of the business’s chocolates are handmade, with no preservatives or fillers, and never cryogenically frozen. The family’s emphasis on freshness carries over to their coffee, too, which has frequently been named the area's best by the readers of the Dayton Business Journal and the Dayton Daily News. The secret is in their roasting process—their small, 15-pound roaster requires them to roast the beans in small batches, which leads to a more consistent product. Once the beans are ready, coffee artisans carefully combine them with other roasts to create a vast assortment of flavors, which includes 11 house coffee blends, 12 flavored coffees, and even more seasonal selections.
To the head baker of Sweet Eats Bake Shop, gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan desserts should be every bit as flavorsome as their sugar-filled counterparts. She whips ups all her tasty treats from scratch, and instead of relying on chemically derived sugar substitutes, she swaps in organic agave nectar, honey, and fruit juices, and replaces vegetable oil with pumpkin or applesauce. To further refine her wide variety of tasty treats—including cupcakes, moon pies, cookies, and fudge—she mixes in unsalted creamery butter and fresh-fruit purees from local farmers. Her mouthwatering baked goods hit the road in their food truck and can sweeten special occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, or graduations.
It's all in the name. From formal tiered wedding cakes to colorful fondant racecars, the bakers at Cakes for All Occasions construct a smattering of sweet creations for special events. Neatly lining pastry cases, cupcakes dress up in whimsical flavor combinations such as chocolate-covered banana, neapolitan, and periwinkle crayon. To round out the confectionary's roster of saccharine edibles, the staff whips up sheet cakes, cookies, and brownies, which are named for their color, like goldfish and macaroni ‘n’ cheese.
The cupcake is a national figure of dining-room table ornamentation and post-work indulgence, and the skilled bakers at Hello, Cupcake crown their gobletcakes with real buttercreams made by hand. Cupcake satisfaction comes in a variety of sweet flavors from classic vanilla cakes with vanilla buttercream to chocolate batters, red velvet cakes, carrot, salted caramel, and the recently discovered pumpkin spice cupcake.
Though fourth-generation dairy farmer Jim King and his wife, Angel, craft the artisanal cheeses at Blue Jacket Dairy, it’s fair to say that the creamery is a fifth-generation family business. The youngest members of the King clan are already hard at work sticking labels on finished wedges of cheddar, quark, and mozzarella, as well as learning to communicate with cows through telepathy. The King family uses small-scale equipment to produce both fresh and aged cheeses, including its signature Gretna Grilling—a semisoft, halloumi-style cheese made with pasteurized whole milk. In addition to chevre, mozzarella, and feta cheeses, Blue Jacket’s team makes small batches of fresh, unaged cheddar curds, which it prepares plain or flavored with dill, chipotle, garlic, or ranch.
When people walk into Stan the Donut Man, they often inquire if Stan is still around. Store manager Jodi Fryman says he’s not; after he ran the shop for more than two decades, he sold it to his then employee, Janet Foster—Jodi’s mom—more than 14 years ago. But Janet, Jodi, and their staff still use his original recipes to craft their from-scratch treats. All day long, they’re pulling caramel-iced cinnamon rolls, blueberry cake donuts, custard-filled donuts, and chocolate cupcakes fresh from the oven.
The bakers let everything cool before making deliveries to area eateries and stores, but at Stan the Donut Man, customers can choose from still-warm treats. Though the shops are on the small side, there’s indoor and outdoor space for people to sit and enjoy their treats, especially at the Xenia location, which has more seating. But the from-scratch donuts are popular by the dozen for customers to take back home or bring to office proms.