Harry Hoenselaar owes his success to sheer perseverance. After leaving his small Midwestern hometown for Detroit, he was hired as a salesman for the HoneyBaked Ham & Cafe Company. Relying on his knack for slicing ham on the bone, he found success at the company, but he was hungry for more. One night in 1936, he began toying with the idea for a machine that could uniformly slice bone-in ham. The next day, he devised a primitive prototype with a tire jack, pie tin, washing-machine motor, knife, and a pinch of magical elf dust. Over the next eight years, he worked to perfect his invention?building and testing variations?and filed for multiple patents, but time after time, he was rejected.
Discouraged, he took a job to support his family and set his dream aside?until 1957. The widow of his former employer rang him to offer HoneyBaked Ham & Cafe Company to him for $500. He seized the opportunity, and the first HoneyBaked Ham & Cafe Company store opened its doors in October of that year. After enjoying years of incredible success, Harry passed away in 1974?but his legacy and the business still flourish thanks to his children and grandchildren. The seed of his idea led to more than 400 retail locations sprouting up across the nation, their dedicated staffs slicing up tender, honey-baked ham while serving sandwiches and sides.
When Mike Kantrow founded his original sandwich shop in 1979, he thought the name Byron's looked too boring. So, as he explains on his restaurant's website, he scratched the s and added a z to the end, giving birth to both a local legend with the Big Byronz sandwich and a local controversy over how to pronounce "Byronz." "If you want clarification on how to say it," Mike explains, "don't ask me."
While regulars may fight over phonetics, few argue over the flavors infused in Bistro Byronz's southern-styled bistro cuisine. Hearty entrees anchor both the lunch and dinner menus, inviting diners to dig into the roasted potatoes that flank a French-cut pork chop marinated in Abita root beer. Comfort dishes soothe the soul, such as tender pot roast that wades in creole gravy and the signature Byronz sandwich with three types of meat, cheeses, dressing, and black olives.
Creole and Mexican culinary traditions are a natural fit for one another. Both rely on a healthy dose of spice, and both elevate comfort food. At The Oyster Bar and Grille, chefs draw on the region’s bounty of seafood as well as a range of Mexican recipes. They fill homemade tacos with hot crawfish and batter farm-raised catfish in homemade corn-meal mix. Splashes of champagne make mesquite-grilled oysters sparkle at tables in the dining room, where surfboards and lifebuoys adorn the wall. Murals of beach scenes seem to admit warming sunshine, and an aquarium lets amateur scuba divers practice looking a fish in the eye. High-top tables and stools around the full bar comfortably situate diners, who can also carry po’ boys and oysters on the half shell to the outdoor patio.
The meat specialists at Logan Farms Honey Glazed Hams pride themselves on their signature recipes for hams and turkeys. Each hand-trimmed cut is dry cured in a housemade low-sodium brine, smoked with hickory, and glazed in a blend of honey and spices before being spiral cut and packaged for in-store pickup or shipping. Staff also prepare gourmet meats ranging from akaushi beef to smoked texas brisket. Each of the company's nine locations features its own counter-service market caf?. Lunches?such as po' boys and grilled burgers?are served, and a range of gourmet groceries?such as mustards and bean blends?line the shelves.
Tableside belly dancers and traditional Mediterranean dishes entertain eaters at Albasha Greek & Lebanese Restaurant. Tender, juicy lamb shanks rest atop rice pilaf and are joined by hummus and sautéed pine nuts to complete the lamb-shank plate. Thinly sliced chicken marinated in garlic, oil, and Lebanese spices populates shawarma dishes, whereas butter-broiled shrimp kabobs simmer with the flavors of garlic and lemon juice.
Mingles’ menu of Southern classics features grilled wings, fried fish, and frosty brews. Among the most popular entrees is the chicken and waffle duo ($7.99), empowered by a posse of sides such as dirty rice and onion rings ($1.99 each). Wings arrive fresh from Mingles’ grill in a selection of savory suits, such as lemon pepper, garlic, parmesan, and honey barbecue ($6.99 for 10), while a triad of fried catfish strips satisfies peckish pescetarians ($6.99). Mingles compliments genial entrees with a variety of social events each week, fueled by draft beers, wines, and top-shelf spirits. Come on Thursday and Saturday nights for Karaoke and sing “That’s What Friends Are For” into sauce-covered wings, or arrive on Friday night to watch live bands court diners in a battle of the BFFs.