Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s Pizza has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
Each day at dawn, piping-hot circles made from fresh ingredients appear on the horizon, enchanting eyes and noses before popping into mouths. Unlike the sun, these rounds teem with sugar, spice, and in some cases, chocolate. Bakers craft each batch from scratch, using original recipes but not a pinch of preservatives. Their cookie roster beckons sweet teeth with everyday flavors such as M&M chocolate chip and day-of-the-week varieties such as Wednesday's almond joy and Friday's mint-chocolate fantasy fudge. Customers may also opt for custom wedding treats and personalized photo cookies, which serve as memories tastier than crepes rolled from diary pages. In addition to building cookie cakes for parties, the bakers construct cookies for celebrants to embellish with frosting.
The chefs at Sushi Unlimited combine their eye for artistry with fresh ingredients to create sushi rolls and hearty entrees. Their signature rolls pay homage to elements of nature as well as local sports teams. For instance, chefs pack the Raiders roll with deep-fried shrimp and spicy tuna before hacking it into pieces with a cutlass and serving it on a wooden plank. As for traditional cooked dishes, the culinary team charbroils fresh salmon steaks for teriyaki plates and deep-fries tempura-style shrimp and vegetables.
At the Davis location, a red accent wall behind the bar vivifies the selection of Japanese sake and beer. The Folsom restaurant boasts a marble-topped sushi bar and wooden columns painted in a whimsical purple. Dotted with flat-screen televisions, the Roseville location has a casual vibe.
More than 20 types of golden-brown pancakes populate The Original Pancake House’s menu alongside omelets, waffles, and other hearty American breakfast dishes. Since 1953, the family business’s morning specialties have been prepared with a commitment to real ingredients such as pure whipping cream, hard-wheat unbleached flour, and butter made from fresh sweet cream. Powdered sugar lines the rims of oven-baked dutch baby pancakes, and granny-smith apples simmer in oven-baked pancakes. Unique ingredients add distinction to house specialties such as gourmet crepes garnished with sweet cherry-wine sauce. To accentuate the flavors of each meal, The Original Pancake House pours full glasses of fresh-squeezed orange juice, a Southern staple, and brews its own signature coffee blend.
People need energy to play, so meals at John's Incredible Pizza Company might start at a salad bar with 40 different veggies and toppings, before proceeding to an inventive selection of pizzas including barbecue chicken ranch, spicy peanut butter, and standards like pepperoni and cheese. There is also a build-your-own pasta bar and a dessert buffet with everything from fresh baked cinnamon rolls to soft-serve ice cream cones?all of it is meant to fuel a good time. That takes place on bumper cars and interactive super-bikes. Old school arcade enthusiasts can engage in classic Pac-Man battle while redemption tickets whir out of machines, granting winners access to a prize counter stocked with lava lamps and Nintendo and Xbox 360 consoles.