If a visit to one of Southern Belle's restaurants feels a lot like coming home, it might have something to do with the hearty family traditions behind the kitchen's down-home breakfast and lunch dishes. “My father was in pancake houses all his life,” says owner Steve Fotos. Today, many of the same recipes used by Steve's father help populate a menu of hearty comfort foods that includes a poached-egg and sausage benedict smothered in country gravy and french toast stuffed with cinnamon apples, strawberries and pecans, or blueberries and bananas. But while the country-fried-steak or smoked-sausage skillets are tempting, the expansive menu offers options for diets of all kind, pairing fluffy egg whites with strawberries, granola, and multigrain toast and swapping out regular maple syrup for bottles that are low-calorie, sugar-free, or simply sealed shut. Photos of farms and pastoral images smile down upon diners as they dig in and gently remind them to inquire about the restaurant's seasonal specials, which range from summertime salads with sun-ripened veggies to bowls of homemade wintertime chili.
Despite their tendency to end up boiled, GetMaineLobster.com's crustaceans somehow managed to keep one customer out of hot water. After waiting until the last minute to plan something for his fianc?e's birthday, Emilio put together a next-day delivery of fresh lobsters that turned into an impressive dinner. His gratitude joins a chorus of praise for the company, whose flavorful foods have been featured on Rachael Ray and in the Wall Street Journal. Each of the lobsters is hand-selected from the coast of Maine, whose frigid waters are famous for preserving the meat's sweetness.
In addition to lobsters, patrons can order a menagerie of seafood cakes, marinated meats, and hearty side dishes. Full dinners take gourmet fare out of the restaurant and onto home dining tables with several-course feasts prepared by Chef Margaret Salt McLellan, who was named the 2008 Maine Lobster Chef of the Year. Customers that lack Margaret's culinary chops can reference the site's collection of recipes, which boast everything from Cajun shrimp to stuffed lobster bursting with crab, scallops, and emotion.
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So established is Circle K that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for?fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Fresh Caf?, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including sandwiches, fruit cups, and fresh-cut vegetables. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with premium coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
FansEdge bestows sports enthusiasts with a selection of more than 1 million officially licensed NCAA, NFL, NBA, and NFL products to proclaim team loyalty. Cubs fans can brandish a personalized jersey ($99.99), and time-displaced youth can bask in the familiar glow of a Baltimore Colts Johnny Unitas T-shirt, emblazoned with an original logo ($21.99). Bulls fanatics can enshrine their laptops in bold Chicago colors inside a 15-inch laptop sleeve ($39.99) or seat a workplace mouse atop a Bulls graphic mouse pad ($9.99). Not content to outfit people and electronics alone, FansEdge also carries a selection of mantelpiece collectibles, including signed football helmets and the costumes of retired mascots.
Root 66 Aquaponics Garden Shop has all the accoutrements of a standard garden supply¬—USDA-certified organic seeds, pots, and organic fertilizers. But Root 66 is hardly your grandmother's general store. Its focus is hydroaquaponics, which creates a symbiotic relationship between a tank of fish and the garden on top of the tank. The sustainable method uses a system of pumps and tubes to harvest and distribute plant food from the fish tank below. The fish, in turn, are fed, sheltered, and taught to use salad forks by the plants above them.
In the shop's introductory video, founder Shawn Odneal says that hydroaquaponics is, "the future of food production and the closest I can get to self-sustainability," by "taking traditional gardening techniques and applying them in a new way." In addition to specializing in hydroaquaponics, he also strives to make gardening accessible to city dwellers with rooftop and vertical gardens.