Volume XI, Issue 35 ~ August 28 - September 3, 2003

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Not Just for Kids


Parents may think they know best, but they’ll have to come to you for advice on what really matters: toys, ice cream and good family eating out. Here’s the best advice of our readers and editors on some places kids will like.

Best Toy Store
Reader’s Choice and Editors’ Choice: Be Beep
You can’t argue with success, and Be Beep has for three years in a row won our readers’ votes.

Be Beep’s charm lies as much in what’s missing as in what’s there. Owners Jeff and Lee Franklin, both former teachers, have taken much care in choosing merchandise that stimulates rather than dictates the imagination. In doing so, they have created a browser’s paradise. There’s no blaring music, no over-bright lights and few if any electronic noises croaking from hyper-educational toys.

“This is a fun place to be. It’s a small store, but not a boutique. We don’t specialize. We purchase toys based on merit, not marketing,” said Jeff Franklin.

Much like an old general store, Be Beep features just a small stock of today’s most wildly popular toys and fills its intimate space with scores of dolls, animal statues and kid-sized tools and kitchen implements, to name a few of our favorites. What better tribute to Be Beep’s Annapolis and Severna Park’s stores than this: “No, honey, I don’t want to leave either; but we’ll come back later with your father.”

Best Kids Menu
Readers’ Choice: Chevy’s Fresh Mex
It’s always a fiesta for kids and family alike at Chevy’s Fresh Mex. As your family’s seated, the hostess leaves kids’ menus and crayons along with a warm and stretchy ball of fresh tortilla dough. And don’t worry if your tot takes a bite. This is the same stuff you’re using to scoop up salsa, and there’s no yeast to rise in that little tummy.

Everything’s made fresh to order, even the kids’ meals, which are a real value, with soft tacos, hamburgers, cheese and chicken flautas and more. All kids’ meals come with soda or milk and a cone-shaped dessert tortilla filled with vanilla ice cream. On Monday nights you can have all this on the cheap, with the little ones eating for only a buck.

What makes Chevy’s such a great place for kids, says manager Rafael Munoz, is the “good, fast service. Kids need their dinner quick,” he said, and that you can depend on at Chevy’s.

Editors’ Choice: Macaroni Grill
Anyone with little ones knows that it’s hard to get out as a family, and in the end the right restaurant makes all the difference. At Romano’s Macaroni Grill, all the settings are in place for a good time to be had by all. The atmosphere is sure to keep even unruly rugrats entertained between the crayons and kids’ coloring menu, the general hustle and bustle and the open, tall-ceilinged dining rooms that turns even the sounds of a squalling baby into a gentle but steady background hum. Perhaps most entertaining are the singers who serenade — in Italian, in operatic style — birthday boys and girls of all age.

From their own menu, the kiddies can order pizza, cheese ravioli, mini corn dogs, grilled cheese or a rich and tasty fetuccini Alfredo. Kids’ dinners come with soda or milk as well as a generous serving of ice cream with plenty of fixin’s at the end of the meal, buying grateful parents that much more time to enjoy their own meals.

Best Ice Cream
Readers’ Choice: Tastee Freeze
Ice cream on the boardwalk: a summertime classic.

Tastee Freeze in North Beach twists great soft serve with great location for a delicious combination. “It’s a good place to take the kids and be a family,” says owner Heather Kennerly. “There aren’t enough places where you can do that.” Tastee Freeze also has clean outdoor and indoor seating, rare among small ice cream stands. This is especially nice in spring, fall and summer, when families can sit outside and look out onto the Bay, just feet from the boardwalk.

What can a customer expect? “Quality product, good service and a clean environment,” promises Kennerly. See you on the other side of the cone.

Editors’ Choice: Aroma d’Italia
Gelato … the name rolls off the tongue almost as easily as the cool, creamy dessert. This frozen delicacy, in 30 thoughtful flavors made daily at Aromi D’Italia in Annapolis harbor, puts an Italian accent on an old flavor. The taste is more intense, its texture smoother and, with only seven percent fat in the most decadent flavors, it could be called a healthy alternative — if you’re willing to use some imagination.

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Kids’ Stuff This Week

Friday, August 29
Zing Wing Flyer
Kids of all ages decorate their own styrofoam Zing Wing Flyer to take flight and take home. noon-4pm @ College Park Aviation Museum, Cpl. Frank Scott Dr., College Park. $2 w/age discounts: 301/864-6029 • www.collegeparkaviationmuseum.com.

Wednesday, September 3
Grandparent Day
Kids ages 2-6 bring along their grandparents to listen to stories and create crafts to take home. 9:30 and 10:30am @ Broadneck Public Library, 1275 Green Holly Dr., Broadneck. free: 410/222-1905.

Thursday, September 4
Babies in Bloom
Infants and toddlers (up to 24 months old) gather for stories, songs, rhymes and fingerplays. 9:30 and 10:30am @ Crofton Library, 1681 Riedel Rd., Crofton. free: 410/222-7915.

Plan Ahead
Party with Sponge Bob
Deadline: Sept. 4–Kids ages 2-6 compete for prizes at Sponge Bob Square Pants Party. Children show off their coloring skills in a contest and hunt for seashell treasures. 10:30am-noon @ Southern Community Center, Appeal Ln. (off Rt. 765), Lusby. $6; rsvp: 410/586-1101.

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Last updated August 28, 2003 @ 3:01am