In many ways, Unique Unlimited Weddings is a fresh start for chef Tony Wilkins. He learned how to cook in his grandparents' kitchen as a child and honed his skills while working for the catering company that his mother and aunt ran in the mid-1970s. Although they had to close their business to take care of their families and Tony went on to get a degree in electronics engineering, his love for cooking never faded. After years of feeling out of place in engineering, chef Tony took a cue from the past and reopened his mother's business. Today, he takes on catering projects big and small, assisting hosts by creating rich feasts, custom-designed cakes, and decorative centerpieces.
The baker behind Style And Grace Cupcakes is something of an alchemist; she transforms simple ingredients such as brown sugar and fresh strawberries into moist cupcakes crowned with decadent buttercream frosting. She also bakes cookies, cookie pops, and diabetic-friendly cupcakes made with Splenda. Find these handcrafted desserts at the Gastonia Farmers Market, or have them delivered to your door.
Poodle skirts, sock hops, and soda fountains. Nothing screams the '50s quite like leaning over a bar and calling for a black cow or an ice-cream soda. At Belmont Soda Fountain, you can recreate that sweet experience with lunch and a frozen treat. Dig into a turkey, chicken salad, or pimento cheese sandwich with a side of pasta salad, or warm yourself from the inside out with the soup of the day. Kids can eat filling, yet taste-bud friendly grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwiches before rousing the whole restaurant into a chant for ice cream. Once you've calmed both them and your cravings, sip a hand-stirred grape soda or slurp up a root beer float brimming with foamy ice cream, in your choice of flavor.
Hollie, the lady behind Sugar Diva's Custom Cakes, bakes fresh, homemade treats from fine ingredients. The business specializes in custom cakes for special occasions such as weddings and birthdays, fashioning them with multiple tiers, elegant accouterments, and stunning designs. They also specialize in smaller treats, which range from gooey chocolate chip cookies and brownies to cupcakes, chocolate fudge, made-to-order pies, and old-fashioned candies.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop’s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M’s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” super-computer Deep Thought is asked to calculate the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything—7.5 million years later, it arrives at the answer: 42. Most scholars have rejected this as a legitimate answer to the meaning of life, except for Yogurt King’s owner, Travis Linder. It’s no coincidence that 42 is the minimum number of sugary, nutty, and fruity toppings Travis keeps stocked in his topping bar. Evidence of the number 42 as a plausible answer to The Ultimate Question is smeared all over the sticky faces of Yogurt King’s customers. They shuffle out of Yogurt King in a satisfied daze usually reserved for monks who’ve just discovered how to levitate without arm floaties. Skeptics need only venture into the ocean-blue shop and pull on one of 12 levers, each dispensing a cascade of frozen yogurt in flavors such as pink lemonade, cookie batter, and mango tango. Should their life still feel empty after strewing their frosty dish with strawberries and peaches sourced from nearby Abbott Farms, they can take satisfaction in knowing that the universe really is meaningless, and fix their gaze on one of Yogurt King’s two flat-screen televisions.