Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one exciting question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are roughly 90 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.
Created by Patty Newkirk and her daughters, Laurie and Nancy, Creative Cakery began in 1983. Up until that point, the women had perfected their cake recipes inside the family kitchen, selling confections out of their home. Their designs are built upon bundt cakes with a fluted design that allows for easy frosting and decorating, in addition to nooks and crannies to add in birthday, holiday, or corporate-takeover-themed accoutrements.
Karie Foster was searching for her true calling in the early 2000s. She was frustrated by her job in real estate, and wanted to branch out into a creative pursuit. After she hosted a cupcake-themed birthday party for her friend's daughter, she knew what to do. She noticed that even the adults at the party devoured her treats with the speed of an over-caffeinated auctioneer, so she decided to open her own bakery. Here, she specializes in the cupcakes and sweet treats she loved as a child, baking a rotating selection of family-recipe favorites such as mini cupcakes, sheet cakes, and chocolate-fudge pie.
The Long Beach bakery, named Miss Priss after Karie's childhood collection of prissy dolls, looks like a life-size dollhouse. Beyond the quaint storefront dressed in gauzy pink curtains, light pink hutches house baked goods accented with frilly pink bows, and a ruffled tiered cupcake stand displays rows of ornately frosted pastel goodies.
The Village Grind planted its roots in the East Village Arts District in 2002 as a place for locals to meet, surf free WiFi, kick back with a book, or kick the back of one another’s chairs and laugh. For the past decade, aromas of hand-brewed coffee, such as the Latin Spice mocha, have mingled with those of sizzling bacon and fresh bagels inside the cozy café. Aspiring and established artists alike showcase their work on the shop’s walls, and on the fourth Sunday of each month, groups gather for a free movie night. Open-mic events liven up Thursday evenings, and every weekday, the shop opens at 6 a.m.:m]]