In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
The Tap Room delights diners with classic pub fare, including sandwiches ($8.50), salads ($7.95), and wraps ($8.95) served in a cozy atmosphere. Sink incisors into a beefy burger ($8.95), made of cowering patties seeking shelter in the reassuring embrace of a bun-like blanket. Things that seem impossible on an empty stomach, such as drawing a perfect circle, skydiving straight into space, or teaching a pack of wild dogs how to sing the complete soundtrack from Cats, slide into the realm of the certain once you've devoured one of The Tap Room's meals. The neighborhood watering hole is lined in dusky, bottle-bedecked exposed wood and soaring windows. It also features occasional live music and hosts events for a bounty of burger-worthy affairs, including NCAA tournament games and holidays. Free WiFi allows diners to check their email and salads to achieve improved connectivity.
At any given time, the Rioja! WineKeeper's handsome wooden casing houses 12 bottles in a temperature-controlled setting. These conditions keep the wines fresh and result in a full-flavored pour. A quick flick of the tap and a crisp white or bold red streams into Riedel crystal, the only glassware used at Rioja! A Wine Bar. Between these sophisticated pouring and storing methods, and the sheer immensity of the full selection—some 800 wines—Rioja!'s dedication to the appreciation of wine is palpable.
Their tapas menu was designed with elegant pairings in mind and—much like playing "spin the bottle" at the UN—highlights flavors from around the world. Prosciutto bruschetta, stuffed dates, and a chorizo and manchego plate show off the kitchen's Mediterranean leanings. South African-style jerky, on the other hand, indicates a willingness to infuse an Old World dining tradition with New World recipes. The bartenders also keep a healthy selection of craft beers from brewers such as Bell's, Duck Rabbit, and Founders.
Inside Bender's Tavern, bites of burgers, philly steak sandwiches, and french fries leave brief pauses in the cheering, which is directed at professional and collegiate sports on flat-screen televisions. The clash of billiard balls rings through the air, matched only by the furious sound of spinning paddles from a nearby foosball table. Trivia contests serve as another outlet for competitive spirits and allow customers to put to use the three days they spent trapped under crates of history books. Those interested in other distractions can take their reubens and draft beers to the game room.
The barbecue barons at Fat Dog's Grille & Pub populate a classic pub menu with juicy burgers and dogs, which sear on a grill that stays sizzling past 1 a.m. on most nights. Flocks of tender chicken wings fly in V formations through Fat Dog's original sauces and, like cotton candy, can be served regular or boneless ($5.95 for 8). Fluffy bread hugs a bevy of sandwiches and burgers including a pepper-and-onion-proffering steak and cheese ($7.95) or a black-and-blue burger, a third-pound of hand-packed beef garnished with bacon and blue-cheese crumbles ($6.95). More than 15 toppings embellish dogs–– such as the quarter-pound Black Angus dog ($4.95) and spicy smoked sausage ($5.95)––with enough wardrobe changes to impress the judges of a USDA fashion show.
In addition to eleven Gold Crown IV 9-foot tables and three Diamond 7-foot tables, Gate City offers foosball, darts, video games, board games, and a non-smoking pool area. Steady-handed aficionados and novices can take advantage of affordable rates that include a $4-per-hour unlimited player rate until 8 p.m. and an $8-per-hour unlimited player rate from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Players can also kick back while grabbing a drink from the fully stocked bar and catching a game on big-screen HD TVs and imaging cranial lasers.