From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers? exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location?s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
A glass display case of colorful cakes, cookies, and pastries greets guests as they enter Clayton Bakery and Cafe, along with the enticing aroma of freshly baking bread. The family-owned establishment staffs a team of local artisanal bakers and decorators, who use local and natural ingredients when whipping up baked goods and a lunch menu of hearty sandwiches, paninis, and daily soups. Chefs roast all of their beef and pork fresh each day, and distribute their signature rolls to local venues such as Ray's pizza and Clayton Steakhouse. Upon request, the bakery can inscribe customized cakes with birthday greetings, personal messages, or a favorite chapter from James Joyce?s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
The self-taught baker behind Baby B’s Cupcakes isn’t beholden to anyone’s ideas about the limitations of the diminutive dessert. Inspired by the vast array of sweets and tarts available in the candy and fruit aisles, she creates recipes for over a dozen eclectic flavors, from traditional chocolate and red velvet to maple bacon, raspberry-white-chocolate, and peanut-butter-and-jelly. Frostings and fillings provide additional flavors—cream cheese, banana crème, and lemon—into the moist, decadent mini cakes. Upon request, she can etch customized designs onto cakes, such as birthday-worthy Spider-man figures or brussels sprouts to encourage kids to eat their veggies.
The toothsome offshoot of a popular farmers’-market pastry stand, The Little Bakery & Cafe plates up a delectable menu of handcrafted Greek and American pastries. Get a taste of the dessert that launched a thousand wetnaps by delving into sticky-sweet layers of flaky, golden baklava ($1/piece). Or, secure an assorted half-dozen of any of the homemade Greek goodies ($5.50) to share with friends or five phyllo-intolerant frenemies. Oven-fresh made-to-order pies ($8.95–$10.95) whirl out of the kitchen with molten cores of apple, pecan, pumpkin, or sweet potato, and 12 flavors of homemade ice cream ($1.45–$4.95) await to be piled atop brownies ($1.75), sandwiched between cookies ($0.40 each; $0.75 for two), or repurposed as caulk in extremely semipermanent structures.
A row of gleaming handles awaits customers at 32 Degrees, with each serving station unleashing a unique flavor of frozen yogurt tasty enough to warrant press mentions from the Birmingham News and Oxford Sun. Guests peruse the frosty options, serving themselves swirls of nonfat treats such as orchard peach or no-sugar-added Tahitian vanilla. The meltable technicolor mountains can be topped with more than 50 options, including roasted almonds, fresh seasonal fruit, candies, cereals, and pieces of used gift cards. Flavors rotate frequently, allowing repeat customers to gradually work their way through more than 40 flavor possibilities.
The bakers at Anna's Gourmet Banana Nut Bread, Inc. blend fresh, preservative-free ingredients into sticky, small batches of dough that emerge from ovens as moist, gourmet sweet breads and bundt cakes. The modest bakery serves up its signature sweet breads—which range in flavors from banana nut to sweet potato with pumpkin—amid the shops' small collection of chef figurines, which stand outside the open kitchen to inspire the staff and fend off sneak attacks from peckish G.I. Joes.