From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend 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 spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
Since 2008, the Mistry family has served up nutrition in liquid form at Fuel Juice Bar. They blend pure fruit purées into smoothies and mix Oreos, peanut butter, and other satisfying ingredients into protein-packed performance shakes. Patrons can also customize shakes with boosters such as Burn Fat Burn or sip locally grown, organic wheatgrass juice. In the warmer months, the spot also serves frozen yogurt rich with live, active cultures.
Tracie Gregson loves the inherent nostalgia of cupcakes. Each bite reminds her of home. But she’s also aware of the deceptively simple dessert’s endless flavor possibilities. When a friend needed a treat to complement his gourmet barbecue, Tracie took up the challenge and grabbed some slabs of smoked bacon. After some experimentation, she emerged from her kitchen with a maple-bacon cupcake, with a vanilla-spice base crowned with brown-sugar-maple frosting, coarse sugar, and crags of smoked pork.
That cupcake memoir typifies the ongoing flavor development at Tracie Cakes. Eschewing mixes, Tracie prefers scouring online purveyors for the finest ingredients she can find. Shipments regularly arrive with gourmet dutch cocoas, velvety sour creams, and finely sifted powdered sugars that Tracie uses because they balance the sweetness—not too sweet—of her buttercream frostings without sacrificing texture. Such fine ingredients go into her more than 20 flavors of cupcakes, from her personal favorite white wedding cake to the coconut cloud, made with organic cloud flour.
When Britt, the founder of Sweets Minus Wheat, learned she and her two sons had celiac disease, she set about concocting gluten-free treats her whole family could enjoy. Her delectable desserts and baked goods run the gamut from orange dreamsicle cupcakes to muffins, banana bread, and cherry pie.
West End Diner’s owners Jay and Betty Lee load an extensive menu of classic diner dishes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and a slew of heart-healthy options. Fifteen burgers ($7.79+), made from fresh-ground Angus beef, slip into stomachs to curb cravings and to satisfy daily requirements for disk-shaped nutrition. Cuisine crafters douse a generous portion of ribs in homemade barbecue sauce for the barbecue loin back rib entree ($17.99), which is accompanied by an enticing array of savory sides. Sink forks into round-the-clock breakfast options, such as the Durango platter, whose freshly baked biscuit supports a tower of sausage gravy and farm-fresh eggs and is embellished with a green-chili façade ($8.49). Homemade devil's food cake from the dessert menu makes a particularly grand appearance in the cake shake ($4.99), in which the moist baked treat blends into a thick vanilla shake, giving hope to straw-envying solids everywhere.