Loafing Around 

Brother Franco and his Real Loaf bread are something of a Memphis institution. Although he hasn't always been baking his bread in Memphis, he has been baking in Tennessee for more than 20 years.

"When Jimmy Lewis owned Squash Blossom, he used to sell my bread," Franco says. "All his stores used to carry it, and even when I lived in East Tennessee, I would make a delivery once a week."

Until recently, Franco was running Real Loaf Bakery in a location between Broad and Summer. He has since moved the operation to the Good Life Honeysuckle health store on Poplar across from East High School. While the store chiefly sells dietary supplements, it does offer a few local products, such as honey, Groovy Food Granola, and Brother Franco's bread, which is baked on the premises and gives the store a warm and comforting atmosphere.

Franco's breads are vegan and baked with mostly organic ingredients. The loaves weigh in at just under two pounds, and varieties include whole wheat, ultra grain, cracked wheat, banana nut, and blueberry. And while the $5- and $7-a-loaf price might be a little steep, it's worth every penny.

Bread from the Real Loaf Bakery is also available at Square Foods in Cooper-Young.

Real Loaf Bakery, 3175 Poplar (458-3003)

Fans of Jerry's Sno Cones can rejoice. The hidden ice cream gem on Wells Station in North Memphis will now serve its frozen treats all year long.

"Customers have been asking me for a while to stay open throughout the winter," says David Acklin, who owns and operates Jerry's Sno Cones together with his children. "My daughter just graduated from high school, and she had an interest in managing Jerry's, so we decided to stay open this year."

In addition to its sno cones, slushes, freezes, shakes, and ice cream, Jerry's has added burgers and sandwiches to its menu.

"We knew that we couldn't add any new items to the menu during the summer, our busiest time, but we had several ideas and worked on testing those," Acklin says. "We have been making sandwiches for about three weeks now."

Sandwiches at Jerry's include, among others, a cheeseburger on a buttered and grilled bun topped with hoop cheese and the works, as well as a fried baloney sandwich on buttered and grilled Texas toast with barbecue sauce, mustard, coleslaw, and cheese. Sandwich combos sell for $6 and come with French fries and a 20-ounce soda.

Another addition to the business is a telephone for call-in orders. "This is the first time in 33 years that the store actually has a phone," Acklin says.

During the winter, Jerry's Sno Cones is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jerry's Sno Cones, 1657 Wells Station (767-2659)

Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches is the latest addition to Memphis' growing fast-casual sandwich-shop market. The Illinois-based chain opened its first local store on Poplar near White Station recently.

The company was started in Charleston, Illinois, in 1983 by Jimmy John Liautaud, who set out to create the world's greatest gourmet sandwich, referencing cookbooks he'd checked out from the local library and trying his creations on friends and family members. As the story goes, Liautaud opened his first store near a college campus, trying to make ends meet while getting students and locals turned on to his sandwiches. Now, 25 years later, Jimmy John's operates more than 500 stores, with another 160 openings scheduled for 2008. Seven of those are planned for the Memphis area.

On the menu at Jimmy John's are eight-inch sub sandwiches on homemade French bread, including the Pepe (appelwood ham and provolone cheese), the Big John (medium-rare choice roast beef), and the Vito (Genoa salami, provolone, capicola). There's also the Plain Slims, which are sub sandwiches minus the lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, sauce, etc., and the Giant Sub Sandwiches with twice the meat on seven-grain or French bread.

If you can't make it to the store, Jimmy John's delivers for a charge of 25 cents per item, no minimum order required.

Jimmy John's, 5181 Poplar (685-3040)

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