Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
A three-time cancer survivor and mother of three, the owner of Naughty Bites needed something to make life a little bit sweeter. After tasting a traditional cake pop, and doing a bit of research, she was convinced she could improve upon the bite-sized treat. And so, she compiled recipes that emphasized natural, high-quality ingredients?think Meyer lemons, Sunkist oranges, farm fresh eggs, and fresh fruit?and created cakes-on-a-stick that were so moist and decadent, she named them Naughty Bites. The truffle-like treats are rolled, dipped, and decorated by hand, and come in a multitude of flavors that are anything but boring. The aptly-named No Plain Jane, for example, is a light vanilla cake with Italian vanilla cream cheese frosting dipped in white chocolate, just like the cake pops appearing on the Paris runways. The Chubby Hubby features a moist fudge center dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with peanuts and pretzels and drizzled with sea salt caramel.
A circular driveway leads to the towering white columns that frame the entrance of Van Noy Mansion, built in the early 20th century for a wealthy railroad family. Two and a half acres of 100-year-old oak trees, manicured shrubs, and verdant landscape surround the estate, and guests are invited to take photos and explore the grounds. General manager James Michael summarizes the mansion's beauty by saying, "You have to see it to believe it. When people walk in for the first time, their jaws drop."
Original woodwork lines the mansion's interior, which is ornamented by stained-glass windows and a series of original murals portraying a courtship. A dramatic wooden rotunda with a second-level landing gives guests space to snap photos or drop buckets of molasses and feathers on late arrivals. Stepping out on the second-story balcony, guests can occasionally hear faint elephant trumpets from the neighboring zoo intermingled with real trumpets carried on the breeze from the nearby Starlight Theatre. The historic 5,000-square-foot mansion plays host to up to 1,000 guests for indoor and outdoor weddings receptions, holiday parties, and charitable events, with food services available from a list of preferred caterers.
From the time he first started frosting cookies and cakes with his mom, Dylan has had a passion for baking. And what began as a bonding experience blossomed into a veritable skill under the tutelage of well-known Kansas City baker Chelsea Williams, helping equipping him for the intricate artistry needed to create custom cakes and desserts. Now making cakes, pies, and cookies in his own shop, Dylan shares his lifelong love with clients with collaboration on custom desserts. He works with everything from fondant designs to towering cakes that reach up to seven tiers tall, creating desserts that are as tasty as they are elegant with flavors such as red velvet, raspberry white chocolate, and Boston cream. Outside of his signature cakes, he creates pastries such as pies, tarts, and the thin, fruity slices of crostatas. The menu includes more than the stereotypical flavors, incorporating options such as ginger crinkle cookies, plum walnut strudels, and chocolate matzo toffee bars, allowing clients to find their new favorite dessert.
Authentic techniques are the key to French recipes. Understanding this, Chef Emmanuel Langlade honed his cooking skills in Marseille, France, before opening Aixois Bistro with his wife more than a decade ago.
Amid suspended orb lights and rustic, wrought-iron chandeliers, French flavors prepared by chef Miguel Sanchez delight palates at all hours. As morning light spills through enormous windows, the staff brews fresh coffee to pair with piping-hot croissants for early-bird visitors. Lunchtime guests sample favorite French sandwiches, from the classic croque-monsieurs to the egg-crowned croque madames. For dinner diners, the kitchen dishes up an elegant menu that includes two varieties of moules frites (mussels with pommes frites), as well as seafood, steak, and oven-roasted chicken. Afterward, traditional desserts such as cr?me br?l?e topped with fresh berries cap off meals and keep sweet teeth from rebelliously biting tongues.
Opera House Coffee & Food Emporium serves piping-hot coffee, espresso drinks, and smoothies from Classic Rock Coffee Co., whose specialty white chocolate coffee called Dirty White Boy is available. The Opera House space plays host to a diverse selection of eats that also includes breakfast dishes, such as the Bake Haus's cinnamon rolls and muffins, and the Paleo Grill's burgers and sandwiches. Speaking to The Pitch, co-owner David Anderson expressed his hopes that the upscale food court will make people feel "comfortable and at home." This sentiment is reflected in the decor, with art that embodies Americana lining the walls and a telescope pointed toward the sky.