From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery blends 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 spades to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
Great Harvest specializes in baking tasty delicacies and healthy, homemade breads ($4.50–$8.50 per loaf) that are high in fiber, free of preservatives, and crafted with freshly milled flour every day. The bread selection changes each day of the week according to a monthly schedule; previous offerings include golden honey wheat and Dakota bread. Gluten-free and high-protein breads are available in a variety of flavors, including gluten-free cinnamon-chip bread. For carb connoisseurs that prefer breaded delights that are easily juggled, Great Harvest bakes scones, muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and bars.
The cupcake is a national figure of dining-room table ornamentation and post-work indulgence, and the skilled bakers at Hello, Cupcake crown their gobletcakes with real buttercreams made by hand. Cupcake satisfaction comes in a variety of sweet flavors from classic vanilla cakes with vanilla buttercream to chocolate batters, red velvet cakes, carrot, salted caramel, and the recently discovered pumpkin spice cupcake.
Every day, the staff at Boba Smoothie blend fresh fruits and other ingredients to create smoothies, teas, and non-dairy milk teas. But the sweet flavors of fruit and tea aren't the drinks' only feature—the cups fill with chewy boba pearls, which add a burst of texture to every taste like a lego made of candy. Staff members also serve up fresh scoops of gelato in such flavors as mango, coconut, and cupcake.
Before opening up shop in 2011, self-taught baker Maricel spent 10 years honing her skills and taste testing her creations with her husband and three daughters. These days, she continues using natural and organic ingredients to whip up cupcakes, mini cupcakes, and tartlets entirely from scratch. The core of her tartlet arsenal remains sweet potato, peach cobbler, and pecan, but her cupcakes and mini cupcakes constantly evolve with innovative flavors such as a maple cupcake topped with bacon pieces and a coconut cupcake slathered with cream cheese frosting. Along with individual and by the dozen purchases, Maricel dispenses her mini cupcakes in bouquets and atop rental towers, which fit 50–60 treats. Every Tuesday through Saturday, she and her dedicated staffers are available to take orders and walk customers through the process of shrinking cakes with repeated dryer sessions.