H. Teller Archibald opened the doors of the first Fannie May in 1920, delighting the passing palates of Chicago’s LaSalle Street with exquisite chocolates that continue to tickle taste buds today. Though nearly a century has passed, Fannie May’s alchemists still rely on the same recipes as the first store, refusing to budge on quality even when faced with shortages during war times and the never-ending Gregory Middle School food fight of 1997. Renowned for sweetness and attention to detail, the chocolatiers’ treats stand as an institution of inventive eats, from the gooey pecan and caramel of their Pixies to the sunny, toasted-coconut-encased dark chocolate of their Trinidads.
Retro Fitness, named one of Entrepreneur's Top New Franchises in 2011, unfurls with 13,000 square feet of vintage-styled workout space that leads visitors to physical peaks in a sunny setting marked by red and yellow fitness equipment and an encouraging team of goal-oriented personal trainers. The capacious gym's sound system blasts energetic jams from the '80s and beyond as exercisers hoist weights or watch TV shows on the 17-inch screens affixed to every cardio machine. Classic flicks such as Grease and Ferris Bueller's Day Off claim screen space in the cardio theater, where guests manufacture sweat by pedaling, jogging, and rewinding hundreds of VHS tapes. Checkerboard pathways venture toward the Retro Blends juice bar with baristas who blend made-to-order fruit smoothies using whey protein and yogurt.
For more than 25 years, Drama Kids International has nurtured thousands of thespian students and kids simply searching for an engaging activity, instilling children with the ability to speak clearly and confidently. Classes focus on sharpening articulated speech and encouraging creative expression. Children are placed in classes according to their age group: the Lower Primary (ages 5–8) teaches kids how to deliver lines and hone social skills, the Upper Primary (ages 9–11) delves into improvisation and dramatic movement, and the DKI Acting Academy (ages 12–17) preps scene-stealers on how to audition for their dream role. Each class includes a variety of activities for kids to unleash their imagination, which develops their dramatic abilities in a fun, easy-going setting. Drama Kids instructors foster an open, comfortable acting environment. Call ahead to schedule the first class and start your child down the path of becoming one of the more notable Baldwin brothers.
Like most good ideas, Gymboree Play & Music didn't begin in a business meeting—it began out of necessity. In 1976, Joan Barnes, a California mom, found herself frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time. Knowing that other parents were undoubtedly feeling the same frustration, she took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play & Music. She consulted experts to design a curriculum of activities to foster the development of children’s cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play. She hired a nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers. And her staff began conducting entertaining classes covering subjects ranging from music to sports to impart valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. As their children learned and socialized, parents also found benefit in meeting and befriending other moms and dads in their local area. More than 30 years later, her vision has proved to be a success: more than 712 child-centered franchises now spread over 42 countries, bringing confidence and creativity to thousands of youngsters in several continents and to one in the center of the earth.
When Sunita Sadhnani received her graduate degree in kathak dance and classical music back in India, she could have struck out on her own as a professional dancer and musician. Instead, she took her considerable talents to a place far less familiar with the art forms in which she specialized: the United States. She founded Bollyarts and brought aboard a staff of experienced instructors to grant American students insight into Bollywood's colorful, electrifying, and narrative dance moves. There, classes range from classical Indian dance forms such as Bollywood, bhangra, and kathak to the contemporary moves of hip-hop to exercise-focused sessions of yoga and Bollywood fitness. The studio offers its students frequent opportunities to perform locally, in neighboring states, state-shows with Bollywood celebrities, and sometimes both.