In 1961, Bob Terese and Corinne Owen opened a small pet shop in downtown Chicago. Part of their mission: to employ workers with developmental disabilities so they can lead productive and fulfilling lives. That little pet shop has since relocated and expanded into a 70-acre campus called Lambs Farm, which has a variety of residential and vocational programs that continue to help those in need. Nearly 250 individuals live here today in group homes and individual apartments; they have access to employment opportunities and a number of recreational services, such as camping and hobby clubs. In addition to the expansive pet shop, the campus also has a farmyard, a bakery, and assorted shops that sell goods handcrafted by Lambs Farm residents.
Checkered tablecloths and vintage black-and-white photos from the 1940s evoke small-town Tuscany at Lauretta's Italian Bake Shop & Cafe, whose chefs have assembled authentic Sicilian-style cuisine for more than 30 years. Homemade pomodoro sauce mingles with the porcini mushrooms and caramelized onions that fleck risotto, and fresh baby clams or mussels frolic through linguine entrees. To create paninis, chefs crown toasted ciabatta bread with such accoutrement as jarlsberg swiss cheese, yellowfin tuna imported from Italy, and childhood memories of revered measuring cups. Diners complement bites with Italian beers and wines, including a crisp, fruity prosecco and a medium-bodied chianti, whose tart red-fruit and chocolate flavors pair well with spinach ravioli and still-life paintings of Hershey's bars. A family-owned Chicago bakery furnishes the eatery's fleet of traditional italian pastries, such as cannoli and more than 30 kinds of italian cookies. Lauretta's Italian Bake Shop & Cafe also proffers comprehensive catering spreads, dishing up pans of lasagna, ravioli, and chicken marsala that can feed up to 15 partygoers, or custom orders that can sate finicky flatware.
In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
Whites and yolks are the stars of the menu at EggShells Restaurant, a little breakfast and lunch spot nestled in the Pine Ridge Courte Shopping Center. Chefs whip up four-egg omelets laden with meats, veggies, and cheeses, as well as stuff breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs and spicy chorizo. They make their own donuts, bagels, and papier-mâché chef hats in house, and receive daily deliveries of bread from LaBriola Bakery. These soft, fresh slices bookend build-your-own deli sandwiches at lunchtime, while housemade chips and other sides accompany 10-ounce steak burgers.
For more than 25 years, Once Upon a Bagel’s staff has cultivated a cozy vibe at the deliciously bread-perfumed bagel shop where customers can linger over breakfast, lunch, or dinner without feeling rushed or ignored. Atop the eatery’s main counter, bagels pile into baskets labeled with flavors such as asiago cheese, chocolate chip, pumpernickel, and honey blueberry, and trays of bagels, fish, and meat are prepared for catering. Beneath the bagel spread, an ample selection of breads puffs up in leavened excitement, hoping diners choose them to build a base for salmon-salad sandwiches, turkey pastrami, and the customer-favorite reuben boat, a loaf of bialy bread into which sandwich makers fold pastrami or turkey along with melted cheese and all the classic reuben trimmings.
As the eponymous owner of Marla's Sweet Bites, Marla Levitt ensures that every morning the bakery’s display cases brim with fragrant batches of freshly baked treats, which her staff prepares fresh and without additives or preservatives. The store's selection changes daily, much like the speed of light, although saccharine-savvy customers can keep an eye out for such perennial favorites as the apple crumble pie and the miniature or jumbo cupcakes glazed with the bakery's signature italian buttercream icing. Marla's Sweet Bites also supplies events with do-it-yourself cupcake-decorating bars, which allow guests to either express their confectionery creativity or use the frosting to accessorize their clothing with perfectly piped initials.