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.
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.
Entering the warm, inviting environment of Swift Creek Coffee House is like sleepwalking into a dream and being met at the gates of horn and ivory with a cup of steaming hot joe. The coffee house's friendly caffeine-dispensing agents are always alert and ready to prepare favorite espresso-based drinks, ranging from cappuccinos ($2.65+) to frappes ($3.50+) to experimental super-soldier lattes. Otherwise, start the day by stimulating senses with custom coffee roasts such as Jamaican Me Crazy or Swift Creek's own house blend ($1.45+). Fresh muffins ($1.85), mini scones ($1.85), cinnamon rolls ($1.99), and glazed donuts ($0.89) await sleep-encrusted eyes, ready to be dunked or combined into edible busts of yourself as you see fit. Swift Creek also stocks afternoon pick-me-ups and rewards for cleaning one's room in the form of scrumptious, made-from-scratch cookies from Sweet Carolina Gourmet.
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.
In the 1950s, Judy Lasater began baking cakes and other sweets according to the elder founder's recipes created over 100 years ago. Three decades later, Lasater partnered with her own daughter, Beth Pendergrass, to open Edible Art Bakery. Though another 30 years have passed since the bakery’s opening, not much has changed. They still adhere to the age-old Southern tradition of scratch baking, which eschews frozen layers and mixes in favor of natural and easily pronounceable ingredients.
The team of bakers and artists that now stands behind the store’s counters upholds the family’s legacy with traditional cakes and cupcakes in flavors such as southern lemon ice box and chocolate truffle. Swirls of buttercream or fondant icing adorn each creation, which the artists can embellish with themed designs to celebrate graduations and children's birthday parties or welcome a new gallon of milk into the home.
Spearheaded by a local couple, Big City Bagels & Cafe surges with the scents of New York–style water bagels and homemade sandwiches. Vegetable, scallion, strawberry, and cinnamon raisin walnut cream cheeses swathe freshly baked bagels, as classic philly cheesesteaks sport thinly sliced rib eye and Cheese Whiz layered into italian hoagie rolls. In the dining room, customers roost upon tabletops surrounded by sunny yellow walls and artwork representations of major cities. The eatery's catering services are also available to furnish meetings, parties, and lengthy PTA canoe trips with trays of sandwich fixings, breakfast morels, and desserts.