The warm aroma of freshly baked waffle cones envelops every nook and cranny of Marble Slab Creamery, revving up guests’ senses with the promise of impending decadence. As the hand-rolled cones tan in their irons, the store’s staff bustles about the premises whipping up fresh batches of super-premium ice cream in the on-site creamery and helping patrons select a flavour from a list of more than 50 options. This chef-driven dedication to gourmet ice cream began in 1983 with the company’s founding in Houston, Texas, when two French chefs were enlisted to create a recipe for Marble Slab Creamery’s signature sweet-cream ice cream using their culinary expertise.
Today, staffers utilize the frozen-slab technique of ice-cream architecture, scooping each customer’s choice of ice cream and mixins onto a chilled marble slab to mix the separate elements into one customized mélange. Though specializing in cone-based ice-cream treats, Marble Slab Creamery also offers a menu full of other scream-worthy confections including cakes, shakes, and ice cream cupcakes.
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own premium ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavours,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 innovative flavours, opened shops with more than 6,700 franchises in 50 countries worldwide, and earned the top spot amongst ice cream chains in Entrepreneur's 2014 Franchise 500 rankings . Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavour browsing an event by allowing guests to try their innovative ice cream flavours and speciality desserts without paying cash for the privilege.
Yogurty's, a proudly Canadian company, claims that at their stores, no two customers have ever made the same exact treat twice. It would be nearly impossible—low- or no-fat, probiotic-rich frozen yogurt comes in more than 85 flavours, ranging from carmel latte to banana split to red velvet, and 65 toppings allow patrons to swirl, drizzle, and sprinkle tasty treats until they resemble works of icy art. Their gluten-free yogurt, a natural source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, is made from fresh milk right off of Canadian farms and supports healthy digestive systems and immunity. The cheerful stores showcase bright colors—nearly as bright as bubblegum and orange cream, topped with sour gummi worms, and rainbow sprinkles.
Six days a week, The Tea Room opens its doors at midday and welcomes tea-takers with pots of hot and aromatic teas, tiny sandwiches, and dainty pastries all made from scratch. In addition to à la carte quiche, soups, and sandwiches, afternoon tea packages bundle together sweet treats, such as scones, devon cream, and preserves, or savory platters of smoked salmon. Of course, teatime would be meaningless without the tea itself, and choosing from the huge variety of available loose-leaf options might prove to be the afternoon's most difficult challenge.
The chefs also prepare a variety of catering packages to entertain large parties for special events. Items are priced per person, so any size group can easily be accommodated.
The Marble Slab Creamery sensory experience begins by just walking past the storefront, where the buttery scent of fresh-baked waffle cones drifts out into the air. Here, staffers freshly craft a vast selection of gourmet ice creams on site using Marble Slab’s original recipes, creating everything from amaretto ice cream to white chocolate ice cream. Once clients have made a flavour selection, they can choose from a smorgasbord of mix-ins, which includes fresh fruit, nuts, candy, and cookie crumbles. Then, an ice cream chef hand-folds these ingredients in atop a frosty marble slab before packing the finished custom-designed flavour masterpiece into a house-made waffle cone.
In addition to procuring hand-held treats, Marble Slab Creamery can send creations home in a variety of other formats, such as ice cream cakes, cupcakes, and hand-packed quarts. They can also dispatch catering teams with sundae bars in tow to spruce up special events, such a corporate get-togethers, or school functions.
Some first dates are so magical they’ll change your life, and this was the case for Danna and Adam Caldwell. The lovebirds had their first date at a frozen-yogourt shop where they discovered a mutual passion for frozen yogourt (and each other). In 2007, the now husband-and-wife duo created Menchie’s.
Today, the frozen-yogourt franchise has grown to more than 250 locations around the world, and was ranked the fastest-growing chain in 2010. Each one, adorned with pictures of celebrities enjoying Menchie's treats on their walls, offers an assortment of self-serve yogourt flavours and toppings, which customers can mix into a yogourt cup or waffle bowl. The yogourt is made with fresh milk from Canadian dairy cows; many flavours are nonfat, no sugar added, and even vegan.