In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
Owner Kelly Garofalo presides over her family’s second restaurant, Grady’s Grille, aiming for a modern twist on the neighborhood eatery. Homestyle favorites, such as the hot ham 'n' cheese, served on a pretzel roll with dijon mustard, burst from the kitchen along with flatbreads, half-pound burgers, and shrimp tacos, which are ensconced in spicy house glaze previously used to deter gingerbread-house lickers. Playful breezes gambol across the outdoor patio and live entertainment includes acoustic sets from The Walk-ins to set diners’ hips swaying.
In the kitchens of Blueberry Hill's five suburban outposts, cooks forgo lazy morning lounging to pull together homey assortments of timeless brunch fare. Pancakes infused with fruit or sweets are made from scratch, much like hand-knitted socks or hand-painted report cards. French-toast slices get stuffed with apple and cream cheese, smothered in fruit, or rolled in Cap'n Crunch. Fresh meats and veggies take cover under eggs in savory skillets, and a selection of sandwiches quells cravings in handheld form.
On a warm August day in 1938, a father and son unveiled the first sample of what was to become Dairy Queen, selling 1,600 samples on the first day, a feat as unheard of as a dragon that breathes ice. Its ensuing prolific expansion was fueled by its frozen treats, which propelled the dessert shop from 100 stores in 1947 to 1,446 in 1950. Today, their dessert recipes remain largely unchanged, and Dairy Queen has added hearty grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken to its menu. Dairy Queen's enormous dessert menu boasts treats ranging from soft-serve cones and blizzards filled with cookies to takeaway ice-cream sandwiches and cakes.
For more than 30 years, owner Art Trevino has loaded tables in Cilantro's dining room and patio with a menu of traditional family recipes. One of 11 children, Art learned to cook and precisely divide a taco into 11 segments alongside his siblings in their mother's bustling kitchen. Veggies add a hint of virtue to platters of cheesy burritos, steak, and chicken in options such as seafood-stuffed portabella mushrooms and chiles rellenos. A bright purple bar marqueed by garlands of colored lights pours 16-ounce "Mugaritas," house-made sangria, and a list of anejo and reposado tequilas designed for sipping through the finest cactus straws.
The kitchens at Bogart's Charhouse radiate tantalizing aromas of grilled meat as the walls grab guests' attention with black-and-white tributes to Bogie. The restaurant's meaty steaks range from 10 ounces to 4 pounds on dinner plates, and lunch guests can dig into a Bogie bacon cheeseburger, or a low-calorie plate of cold turkey. Sliced beef or lasagna catering plates can satisfy appetites at off-site events, such as office parties or a monthly tribute to the oppressive giants that rule one's neighborhood.