It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.
Some may find fashion intimidating––not Kristin Dahl. She's been in the biz 20 years. While she was working wholesale in New York City’s Garment District, retail stores would ask her to present their lines across the country. "Afterward,” Dahl says, “these people were like, 'Why aren't you taking me shopping?' So that's what I decided to do." Dahl still takes advantage of her retail contacts and attends fashion trade shows in LA, Las Vegas, Dallas, and Atlanta, using what she learns to pair every client with the perfect item and every mannequin with sunglasses so you can’t see its creepy eyes. "I like to take them to chain stores like Ann Taylor, Loft, Banana Republic, J.Crew," she explains. "I can go up in cost, it just depends on the customer. I'll take them into Manhattan too." And she adds that because there's no commission, there's no hidden agenda. “They feel like they're shopping with their best friend,” she says. In addition to personal shopping, Dahl specializes in closet-and-wardrobe organization, for which she uses a time-tested method. "Your closet should be like a mini boutique, organized by color, by group and category. We get rid of things, we reorganize." This methodology functions under the idea that one should stock up on must-have building blocks and then layer outward. She adds that these organizational and shopping services are also great for men. She'll work with anyone, because it's her passion. "The biggest reward is being out and seeing someone wear what I helped pick out. I love having an impact, seeing them transform."
For Darrin Miles, co-owner of Buffalo's Chicken Shack, barbecuing began as a hobby. Using seasonings, sauces, and rubs learned from his mother, he grilled, smoked, and deep-fried meats for his coworkers and friends during cookouts. But his occasional culinary endeavors soon became a passion. First, he built a brick and mortar smoker in his backyard. When his dreams grew beyond his fence and swimming pool of Sweet Baby Ray’s, Darrin opened Buffalo's Chicken Shack with his wife, Tiffany.
The restaurant now serves up a full menu of southern-inspired dishes, all of which earned the approval of Darrin's assembled focus group of friends and local foodies. Popular items include jumbo buffalo wings, slabs of ribs, and fried chicken, which pairs well with warm buttermilk waffles and home-style sides such as cornbread, sweet potato fries, and macaroni and cheese. Buffalo’s Chicken Shack challenges diners’ appetites for these comfort dishes during annual eating contests: in 2012, Jamie “The Bear” McDonald became the newest Buffalo King after consuming 53 spicy wings in seven minutes without belching cartoon flames.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Anyone who travels along Goffle Road doesn't need a calendar to tell them when Spring has arrived—the blossoming pansies inside Goffle Brook Farm have marked the occasion since 1968. Today, some 40 years after Richard and Dancy Osborne opened it, the family-owned shop still maintains its original traditions, which include opening on March 15 every year and closing for the winter promptly at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
The shop's celebration of the seasons has become an especially beloved practice. In the fall, Goffle Brook Farm transforms into a Halloween utopia, complete with a petting zoo, hay bales, and hand-decorated pumpkins. Come December, the shop aids decorating efforts with its elegant wreaths, which are handcrafted from balsam, frasier fir, noble fir, and, when available, bits of Santa's beard. The rest of the year, Goffle Brook Farm keeps customers stocked with high-quality gardening supplies, from seeds, soil, and mulches to flowers and the pots they go in.
Brimming with colorful bolts of fabric, carefully looped skeins of yarn, and rows of sewing provisions, Save A Thon Stores have been supplying New Yorkers with quality crafting necessities since 1973. With fabrics ranging from basic denim to upscale jacquard upholstery cloth from around the world, the shop showcases a range of patterned designs that can be crafted into cozy quilts or a signal to a passing ship that it would have looked better in plaid. Coils of lace ribbons and tubs of colorful beads add a decorative finishing touch to projects, which can be undertaken at home or under the tutelage of the shop's expert crafters during regular sewing classes, while upholstery classes teach students upholstery basics. The teachers are also experts in the Wilton method of cake decorating and can help students artfully embellish cakes and cupcakes with fondant, tiny decorations, and tiny brides and grooms on a dessert destination wedding.