Rarely a day goes by that Terry Restin and Brenda Tusing don't eat a chocolate. And who could blame them? Terry and Brenda are the imaginative founders of The Royal Chocolate?a cheerful shop abounding with glimmering glass displays of gourmet candy apples, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a sweeping variety of dark, milk, and white chocolates. The duo imports chocolates from around the world and whips up their own line in-store, folding Belgian chocolate into intricate treats such as chocolate cashew clusters and chocolate caramel truffles. They work behind the shop's wooden counter steaming hot chocolates and preparing other beverages. Their guests perch at intimate tabletops by the glowing fire, dipping fresh strawberries, fluffy marshmallows, and crispy apple slices into pots of fondue. The contented smiles on their faces are the reason Terry and Brenda got into the chocolate business in the first place?as Brenda told reporters from Inside Business, "I can't explain how great it is when people come in our door. Even when they have a frown on their face, when they smell the chocolate they smile."
Colorful lollipops and myriad candies line the counter at Chill Ice Cream Shoppe, where a glass display case readies ice cream, frozen yogurt, and fruit ices for the scooping. Dishes and cones don more than 20 flavors, such as key lime pie, raspberry truffle, cotton candy with miniature M&M's, and Bear Claw, whose dark chocolate, caramel, and cashew mixture can only be eaten safely while making oneself appear very small. Chill complements its frozen confections with savory snacks, such as hot dogs and pretzels, and warms icy tongues with cups of coffee.
Cupcake Central expands the cupcake’s fluffy boundaries, garnishing 41 fresh-baked daily flavors with four frosting varieties and a host of fillings daily. Special orders double the potential flavor selection and allow for inebriating the cakes with margarita and strawberry-daiquiri liqueurs. The spirit of sugary excess manifests itself dramatically in the colossal cupcake, an enormous confection that can be personalized with whimsical designs, romanticized for a Valentine's Day treat, or baked to match a baby's birth weight.
Chocolate from Guittard, Callebaut and Valrhona, organic vanilla beans, and a host of other all-natural ingredients elevate Just Cupcakes? handcrafted confections above the pastry?s work-a-day reputation. Their team of bakers whips up an ever-changing menu of treats, in flavors that range from apple cinnamon and chocolate peanut butter to coconut and s?mores. For more options, clients can peruse the more comprehensive online flavor catalog.
When you walk into Sugar Shack Cafe, you can smell the reason why sisters Cassandra and Tracy made it on to Food Network's Cupcake Wars, not to mention why they were named the best in the area by Hampton Roads Magazine for four straight years. Buttercream, chocolate, lemon, and other scents fill the space?a small, red brick house that was once turn-of-the-century Princess Anne's post office?and put the duo's cupcakes in new hands all day. That goes double for their Twisted Sisters Cupcakes truck that makes its way through six Hampton Roads cities throughout the week.
The duo uses only fresh, whole ingredients to craft their inventive sugary treats. Though the selection rotates weekly, some of their flavors include a cookie dough-stuffed cupcake, a pink lemonade cupcake, and The Keys, a lime curd and cheesecake cupcake atop a graham cracker crust.
Back at the cafe, the lunch hour brings in customers in search of the sisters' sandwiches and snacks made with locally sourced, farm-fresh fruits and veggies. They also put together sandwich trays and cupcake towers for special occasions, such as graduations, weddings, and promotions to Megadoctor.
The aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans lures passersby into Bean There Coffeehouse's two locations, where baristas reenergize sluggish bodies with a menu cascading with seasonal brews, such as strawberry cupcake and neapolitan lattes. The coffee shops' thoroughly vetted beans are plucked from the top 20% rated throughout the world, with special attention paid to the country of origin, the altitude, and the astrological sign of each bean. Serving up flavorful coffee is their top priority, and the staff also cultivates a homey, neighborhood feel at each establishment, welcoming guests to events such as coffee tastings, dessert pairings, and poetry slams.