Best of the Lakes Area 2022

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Non-profit andChristian Based Thanky ou forvotingusasB estofthe LakesArea! Interestedinlearningmoreabouthowwe empoweragingadults inAlexandriaandbeyond? Ru nne rUp NonprofitOrganization Large Companyto Workfor Physical Rehabilitation Senior Living (55+) KnuteNelsonCar eC enter Short-termrehabilitationandlongtermcareinacaring, dignifiedand empoweringenvironment. Senior Care Center ALEXANDRIAECHO PRESS | ECHOPRESS .COM READERS’ CHOICE WINNER 20 22 GrandArborbyKnuteNelson Activeandsociallyfocusedlivingfor adultswhoneed alittleextrahelpwith day-to-dayactivities. Assisted Living Facility GrandArborbyKnuteNelson Maintenancefreelivingforthose55+with anarrayofamenitiesand conveniencesto makelifeeasier...andmorefun!
Our family welcomes yours! Hwy 29 N • Alexandria• 320-762-1324 BEST Wings! BEST Happy Hour! Runner Up BEST BAR BEST RESTURAUNT BEST Catering BEST LUNCH BEST Dinner BEST Steak BEST PIZZA BEST BURGER Thank You Lakes Area! Thank You Area! ALEXANDRIAECHO PRESS | ECHOPRESS .C O M READERS’ CHOICE WINNER 2022 to our loyal customers and to our great staff! Thank You You


Our local businesses continue to work hard to earn the support of not only the local residents, but also the thousands of annual visitors to our lakes area even as many of our businesses continue to face challenges. It is our businesses that make this area a destination to live and visit!

In July we asked our readers to nominate the best local businesses and we again were overwhelmed with the response of nearly 9,000 nominations. Then in September we asked our readers to vote on the best in each category. Over 116,000 votes were cast in 99 categories. Thank you to our readers for sharing their nominations and voting for their favorites that helped us recognize the area’s best.

The Echo Press congratulates all of this year’s winners and finalists. Cheers to another year of celebrating the area’s finest!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Best of the Lakes Area Contest
Best of the Lakes Area 2022 5 BEST APPETIZER 1. Pike & Pint Grill 2. DJ’s Tap House & Grill BEST BAKERY 1. Roers Family Bakery 2. Country Blossom Farm BEST BAR 1. Leaf Valley Mercantile Bar & Grill 2. Angelina’s BEST BEER SELECTION 1. Copper Trail Brewing 2. Thousand Lakes Brewing BEST BLOODY MARY 1. Leaf Valley Mercantile Bar & Grill 2. DJ’s Tap House & Grill BEST BREAKFAST 1. Travelers Inn Restaurant 2. AJ’s Restaurant BEST BREWERY 1. Copper Trail Brewing 2. Thousand Lakes Brewing BEST BUFFET 1. Pizza Ranch 2. The Old Mill Bar & Restaurant BEST BURGER 1. DJ’s Tap House & Grill 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar BEST CATERING 1. Raapers Catering Company 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar BEST COFFEE SHOP 1. Caribou Coffee 2. Common Ground Coffee House BEST DESSERT 1. Dairy Queen 2. Pike & Pint Grill BEST DINNER 1. Pike & Pint Grill 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar BEST ETHNIC FOOD 1. Great Hunan 2. Casa Jalisco BEST FAST FOOD 1. Culver’s 2. QDOBA Mexican Eats BEST FOOD TRUCK 1. Smokin’ Brews & ‘Ques 2. Flavor Shack BEST FRIES 1. McDonald’s 2. DJ’s Tap House & Grill BEST GOLF COURSE 1. Geneva Golf Club 2. Alexandria Golf Club BEST HAPPY HOUR 1. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar 2. Pike & Pint Grill BEST LIVE MUSIC/ PERFORMANCE VENUE 1. Andria Theatre 2. Carlos Creek Winery BEST LOCAL COMMUNITY EVENT 1. Art in the Park 2. Grape Stomp BEST LUNCH 1. Travelers Inn Restaurant 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar BEST OUTDOOR DINING 1. Pike & Pint Grill 2. Lure Lakebar BEST PIZZA 1. 2 Guyz Pizza 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar BEST PLACE FOR SUMMER FAMILY FUN 1. Casey’s Amusement Park 2. Country Blossom Farm Eats | Drinks | Entertainment Best OF THE LAKES AREA 2022 EATS | DRINKS | ENTERTAINMENT Continuedonpage6
Health | Fitness Best OF THE LAKES AREA 2022 BEST ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY 1. Grand Arbor By Knute Nelson 2. Knute Nelson BEST CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE 1. Godfrey Chiropractic and Wellness 2. Central Lakes Chiropractic Clinic, PC BEST DENTAL OFFICE 1. Dentistry at the Center 2. Einerson Family Dentistry BEST EYE CLINIC 1. Eye Associates of Alexandria 2. Lake Region Eye Center BEST FITNESS CENTER 1. Noonan Sport Specialists 2. Alexandria Area YMCA BEST HEARING CENTER 1. Legacy Hearing Centers 2. Alomere Health BEST MEDICAL FACILITY 1. Alexandria Clinic 2. WELL & Company BEST PHARMACY 1. Trumm Drug Downtown 2. Thrifty White Pharmacy BEST PHYSICAL REHABILITATION FACILITY 1. Alomere Heartland Orthopedic Specialists 2. Knute Nelson BEST SENIOR CARE CENTER 1. Knute Nelson Care Center 2. Grand Arbor By Knute Nelson BEST SENIOR LIVING (56+) 1. Grand Arbor By Knute Nelson 2. Arabella Manor 6 Best of the Lakes Area 2022 BEST PLACE FOR WINTER FAMILY FUN 1. Andes Tower Hills 2. Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center BEST RESTAURANT 1. Pike & Pint Grill 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar BEST RIBS/BBQ 1. Corral Saloon & Eatery 2. Leaf Valley Mercantile Bar & Grill BEST SANDWICH SHOP 1. Lake Country Meats 2. LA FERME BEST STEAK 1. Interlachen Inn 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar BEST WEDDING/ PARTY VENUE 1. Crooked Willow 2. Gathered Oaks BEST WINE SELECTION 1. Carlos Creek Winery 2. Cash Wise Liquor BEST WINERY 1. Carlos Creek Winery 2. Rolling Forks Vineyards BEST WINGS 1. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar 2. Pike & Pint Grill EATS | DRINKS ENTERTAINMENT Continuedfrompage5
Best OF THE LAKES AREA 2022 Services BEST ACCOUNTANT 1. Jensen PA 2. Silbernick Accounting BEST AUCTIONEER 1. Todd Whiting 2. Hanson Auctioneers BEST AUTO REPAIR 1. Becker Auto Repair 2. Tiremaxx Service Center - Alexandria BEST BANK/CREDIT UNION 1. Bell Bank 2. Glenwood State Bank BEST BARBER SHOP 1. 100% Advisory Men`s Haircuts 2. Tacker’s Barber Shop BEST CAR WASH 1. Zips Car Wash 2. Woodys Car Wash BEST CHILD CARE FACILITY 1. Alexandria Area YMCA 2. Theresa McGinn home daycare BEST CLEANING SERVICE 1. Rantasha Services 2. ServiceMaster BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE 1. Amy Christopherson - State Farm Insurance Agent 2. Integrity Title BEST DOG GROOMING 1. Muddy Paws 2. Jodi’s Pampered Paws BEST ELECTRICAL 1. Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical 2. Alexandria Electric BEST EYELASH SALON 1. Ella’s Salon 2. Buku Lashes BEST FUNERAL HOME 1. Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory 2. Lind Family Funeral & Cremation Services BEST GARBAGE CO 1. Alex Rubbish & Recycling Inc 2. West Central Sanitation BEST HAIR SALON/BARBER 1. Polished Looks Salon + Spa 2. Ella’s Salon BEST HEATING & PLUMBING 1. Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical 2. Greeley Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning BEST INSURANCE AGENCY 1. Amy Christopherson - State Farm Insurance Agent 2. Iverson Insurance BEST LANDSCAPE/IRRIGATION 1. Alex Irrigation & Landscaping 2. Creative Landscapes BEST LARGE COMPANY TO WORK FOR (50+EMPL) 1. Douglas Machine 2. Knute Nelson BEST LAW FIRM 1. Thornton Dolan Bowen Klecker & Burkhammer, P.A. 2. Pemberton Law BEST MANUFACTURING COMPANY 1. Douglas Machine 2. Alexandria Industries BEST MASSAGE/SPA 1. Jamie McLaughlin 2. Massage by Sarah Roers BEST MORTGAGE LENDER 1. Glenwood State Bank 2. Bell Bank Mortgage BEST NAIL SALON 1. Nails of Alex 2. Ella’s Salon BEST NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION 1. Love INC Douglas County Lakes Area 2. Knute Nelson Best of the Lakes Area 2022 7 SERVICES Continuedonpage8
8 Best of the Lakes Area 2022 Shopping Best OF THE LAKES AREA 2022 BEST ANTIQUE STORE 1. Yesterday’s 2. Past & Present Home Gallery BEST APPLIANCE STORE 1. Cullen’s Home Center 2. Menards BEST BICYCLE SHOP 1. Jake’s Bikes 2. Alex Bike Shop BEST BOAT/ MARINE DEALER 1. Alex Auto & Marine LLC 2. Resorters Marine BEST BUILDING SUPPLY STORE 1. Hilltop Lumber 2. Menards BEST CAMPER/RV DEALER 1. Paul’s Small Engine Sales & Service 2. Hilltop Camper and RV BEST CAR DEALERSHIP 1. Alexandria Motors 2. Juettner Motors BEST CONVENIENCE STORE 1. Casey’s 2. Brother’s Market BEST FLOORING/ CARPET STORE 1. Arnquist Carpets Plus COLORTILE 2. Carpet One Floor & Home BEST FLORIST/GREENHOUSE 1. Colorful Seasons Garden Center 2. Anderson Florist & Greenhouse BEST GIFT SHOP/BOUTIQUE 1. Creative Touch Boutique 2. Kindred People BEST GROCERY STORE 1. Elden’s Fresh Foods 2. ALDI BEST HARDWARE STORE 1. Ace Hardware 2. Menards BEST HOME FURNISHINGS 1. Cullen’s Home Center 2. Douglas Furniture BEST JEWELRY STORE 1. Hedine Jewelry Store 2. Diekman’s Jewelry BEST LIQUOR STORE 1. Cash Wise Liquor 2. Plaza Liquor BEST MEAT MARKET 1. Lake Country Meats 2. Miltona Custom Meats & Sausage BEST PAINT STORE 1. Sherwin-Williams Paint Store 2. Hirshfield’s BEST SPORTING GOOD STORE 1. Osakis General Store and Guns Galore 2. Cowing Robards Sports BEST TIRE STORE 1. Tiremaxx Service Center 2. Plaza Tire & Auto BEST PHOTOGRAPHER 1. Jennifer Guenther Photography 2. Abby & Brandon BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY 1. Kvale Real Estate 2. Edina Realty - Alexandria Real Estate Agency BEST RESORT 1. Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center 2. Lake Darling Resort BEST SMALL COMPANY TO WORK FOR (UNDER 50 EMPL) 1. Amy Christopherson - State Farm Insurance Agent 2. Integrity Title BEST SPA 1. WELL & Company 2. Darling Reflections Spa BEST TANNING SALON 1. Glow. 2. iBeach Tan & Nails BEST TATTOO PARLOR 1. RM Tattoo & Body Piercing 2. TNT Top Notch Tattoo BEST TITLE COMPANY 1. Integrity Title 2. Douglas County Abstract BEST VETERINARY CLINIC 1. Alexandria Veterinary Clinic 2. Country Vet PA SERVICES Continuedfrom page7


Thank youneighbors! These awardsare evidenceofour cultureofaccountability, compassion, excellence, hospitality,andintegrity— valuesthatare embraced by our staffandphysicians.

Thank youforplacing your trustinus. That’s themost valuable recognitionofall.

BestMedical Facility:

BestPhysical Rehab:

Best Hearing Clinic



AlomereH ealth •A lexa ndriaCl inic •O sakis Cl inic •L akesE.N .T. •H eartlandOrthopedicSpecialists
ALEXANDRIAECHO PRESS | ECHOPRESS .COM READERS’ CHOICE WINNER 20 22 2022 Winner: AlexandriaClinic AlexandriaClinic HeartlandOrthopedics LakesE.N.T.


Pike and Pint Grill

110 30th Ave. W, Alexandria 320-763-7468

What does it take to win four categories – best appetizer, dinner, outdoor dining and restaurant – in the Best of the Lakes Area contest?

“Consistent quality food and service,” said Kent Kopp, owner of Pike and Pint Grill in Alexandria. “Also, heavy involvement in community initiatives.”

Kopp opened the popular restaurant in 2015. It has 80 employees now and offers full service dining, inside and outside.

Kopp noted that Pike and Pint Grill is locally owned, family oriented and heavily invested in this community.

LEARNING STARTS HERE ALEXANDRIA ARE AY MC A CHILD CA RE &P RE -S CHOOL 320.834.9622 10 Best of the Lakes Area 2022 Eats | Drinks Entertainment Best
Best Appetizer, Best Dinner, Best Outdoor Dining and Best Restaurant

Best Sandwich Shop, Best Meat Market

Lake Country Meats

1700 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-759-2072

Lake Country Meats offers a full meat counter, fresh and smoked sausage, hams, bacon, deli and wild game processing.

Butch Cole, owner, noted that the business opened in 2103 and currently has 24 employees.

Quality of products and customer service are two of the reasons Cole believes Lake Country Meats was chosen the best meat market in the Alexandria lakes area.

The one thing he wants people to know is that his crew has an obligation to the community to be the best at what they do.

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Best Happy Hour, Best Wings

Angelina’s Restaurant and Bar

1215 Hwy. 29 N., Alexandria 320-762-1324

Angelina’s Restaurant and Bar opened its doors in 1971. For the past 29 years, it has been owned and operated by Robbie Carlsen. Carlsen’s history with the restaurant, however, dates back to the 1980s. At age 15, his first job was as a dishwasher at Angelina’s.

Carlsen noted that he and his crew of about 50 employees strive to be both a family-friendly restaurant and also a fun bar for its customers. “Being chosen as ‘the best’ in a couple of categories tells us we are doing right by our customers.”

“We have a wide variety of menu items, including our homemade garlic toast, pizzas, wings, steak, pastas, salads, wraps and much more,” said Carlsen. “And our catering service is used by many for weddings and special events.”

Carlsen also noted that Angelina’s offers a private room to book for parties or private events.

Best Steak

Interlachen Inn

4960 County Road 42 NE, Alexandria 320-846-1051

Interlachen Inn, which has been open since 2015, is always looking to add new drinks and food items to its menu, which it did in the last year, according to owner Gayle Haanen. These new drinks, she said, go along with its signature martinis, Manhattans and old fashions.

The restaurant is known in the area for having superb prime rib, teriyaki ribeye, filet mignon and sirloin served in a casual and a comfortable atmosphere.

It is also known for its decor of photos and history of Alexandria, along with having a great staff.

Interlachen Inn is made up of 21 employees and offers a full-service bar and restaurant, and also features live entertainment and pull tabs.

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205 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-219-6688

Copper Trail Brewing Company, open since 2016, serves up a variety of craft beer as well as offers trivia and game nights, along with live entertainment.

Lewis Mundt, marketing and events coordinator, said in 2022, the brewery was able to start selling its four-packs of beers right from the taproom due to new off-sale legislation in Minnesota.

In addition, in 2022, the brewery expanded its patio, its leadership team and its distribution area across Minnesota.

“We also have begun a number of new community partnerships including our Summer Concert series, the Broadway Book Club, events

with the Alexandria Youth Baseball Association and much more,” said Mundt.

He also noted that Copper Trail is not all beer. He said there are some great non-alcoholic options, as well as seltzers and sodas. And, he said, there are a ton of fun events in the taproom – monthly karaoke, regular brewgo (bingo) nights, sports on the big screen and games.

“We’re not only a business within the lakes area, but a part of the community, whether that’s as a gathering and meeting place for our customers, a voice in the everevolving craft beer industry at the local and state level, or advocates for local businesses, business owners, and their workers,” Mundt said as to why he believes the brewery won two Best of the Lakes Area awards –best beer selection and best brewery.

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Copper Trail Brewing Company

Pizza Ranch

1522 Broadway 320-762-4010

Obviously, Pizza Ranch is known for its pizza. It is part of its business name, after all. But did you know that chicken is one of its top sellers also?

“We go through 800-1000 pieces of chicken a day,” said Assistant Manager Adam Cummins. While that might not surpass demand for pizza, it’s at least a close contender.

Pizza Ranch opened in Alexandria in 2005. It has about 35 employees.

Its buffet offers an array of salads and soups, multiple kinds of pizza, tubs of hot and crispy chicken, its signature Cactus Bread, and dessert pizza and ice cream.

You can eat in the restaurant or order food to-go. You can also order online and Pizza Ranch will deliver to your door within a 5-mile radius of its store.

Its community room seats up to 75 guests, and it also helps community organizations raise funds through its Community Impact events.

Best Wine Selection, Best Winery


Creek Winery

6693 County Road 34 NW 320-846-5443

Carlos Creek Winery has won both Best Wine Selection and Best Winery. Founded in 1999, the business has 18 full-time employees and 50 parttime employees.

Carlos Creek offers wine and beer tasting, a space to listen to live music and connect with friends and family, an unforgettable event venue for all of life’s celebrations, a wood-fired pizza kitchen with fresh ingredients and homemade dough daily, and large-scale festivals for community gathering and celebration of craft beverages.

In the past year Carlos Creek has added onto its brewery production with a canning line, making its beer available by the can in the summer of 2023. Plus, employees have been creating and grooming trails for winter fun with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

“We let employee and customer experience guide every decision we make, focusing on quality products with a safe and welcoming space to enjoy them in,” an employee representative wrote. “Our entire team is so proud of the work they do creating products and experiences for our customers and it shows in the work they put out. I think we were chosen as THE BEST because of the amazing employee teams we have. They are the true winners in this!”

14 Best of the Lakes Area 2022
Carlos Creek Winery is a family-owned and operated small business and is located between Lake Ida and Lake Carlos.
Best Buffet
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Best Bakery

Roers Bakery

430 Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-4741

Roers Family Bakery offers scratch-made baked goods for daily consumption and special events.

“I believe we were chosen because we pride ourselves on the quality and flavor of our

products, and we insist on making as much from scratch as we can,” said Quincy Roers, head baker and son of the owners.

There has been a bakery in operation at the Roers Family Bakery location since the late 1800s, but the Roers took over in 1995. They currently have five employees, and four are members of the Roers family.

Roers is a full-service bakery.

Best Breakfast, Best Lunch

Travelers Inn

511 Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-4000

Travelers Inn has been surviving – and thriving – over a span of 98 years so it’s no big surprise that it was named best breakfast and lunch in the Best of the Lakes Area contest.

What’s the secret to the restaurant’s success?

“We have the greatest staff, the most delicious food and a place that you can get in and out of in no time at probably the best value around,” said Patrick Sieve, owner. “We work hard to keep our food prices down and the quality high, especially in the face of inflation when the portion sizes are getting smaller and the prices are skyrocketing. It’s really easy to just aimlessly raise prices to offset the rising cost of goods but we shop

extremely hard for our groceries to get the best prices we possibly can and pass the savings on to our guests.”

Travelers Inn began in 1924 and has 25 employees today.

Quick service is one of their strengths.

“We are constantly refining our process even after all of these years,” Sieve said. “It’s no secret that Alexandria’s downtown is bustling these days. We were becoming a little bogged down on the weekends, even for us, so we refined our weekend menu to make sure no one was waiting too long to sit and get their food in less than 20 minutes (its gold standard when it comes to food times). We took all of our most popular dishes and added a couple of newbies.”

Travelers Inn – or “Travs” to their regulars – is now offering assorted

egg bakes (quiche) on Saturdays and Sunday with fresh fruit, including strawberries, pineapple, blueberries and grapes.

“These have gained a lot of momentum and people love them,” Sieve said. “We are also in the process of finishing the facade of the building which includes a paint job, new awnings and new signage. Gotta keep up with the Joneses down here!”

Travelers Inn is always coming up with something fun and inventive for its customers.

“We turn 100 in about 18 months,” Sieve noted. “We want to throw a big party and serve 5-cent cups of coffee and 10-cent cheeseburgers like we did back in 1924! We’ll probably file for Chapter 11 the next day but it would be totally worth it.”

16 Best of the Lakes Area 2022

Best Catering

Raapers, the Catering Company

Alexandria 320-760-6619

Raapers, the Catering Company, is owned by Andy and Cammie Rassat.

It originally started as a sandwich shop in 1993. Soon, it took on another chapter and it moved to downtown Alexandria and morphed into Raapers Sports Bar and Grill.

When the era of sports bars became a thing of the past, Raaper tweaked its name and image to Raapers Eatery & Ale.

After the tragic and historic fire in 2020, Cammie and Andy decided to continue doing what they loved and kept the catering aspect of their business alive.

Raapers is now a full-service catering company that prides itself in custom catering options. From simple to elegant they’ve done it all. Cammie and Andy said the main emphasis is on high quality, delicious food at an affordable price. They strive to make each event as unique as their clients.

They are excited to be preparing all of their offerings in their new custom catering kitchen. The new location has been the biggest change for them this past year. In addition to the kitchen, there is a tasting room for couples to sample menu options for their dream day wedding reception.

Andy and Cammie feel they were chosen as the best in the lakes area because their clients, customers and supporters are the best. Without a community that supports them, they said they wouldn’t be where they are today.

Andy and Cammie said thank you for all the love and that they will continue to make the community proud and will continue to work hard for the people of the Alexandria lakes area and to bring them excellence with every meal served.

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Best of the Lakes Area 2022 17
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Best Dessert

Dairy Queen

907 N. Nokomis St., Alexandria 320-763-6900

When in season, Dairy Queen offers a wide variety of treats including shakes, malts, blizzards, cones, cakes and more. The Dairy Queen website says their vision is to, “Be the world’s favorite quick serve restaurant” and the mission is to “Create positive memories for all who touch DQ.” Dairy Queen originated in Joliet, Illinois, in 1940 and became an international chain in the years after.

Best Coffee Shop

Caribou Coffee

307 North Nokomis Square, Suite 113, Alexandria 320-763-8090

4911 Hwy 29, Suite 101, Alexandria 320-762-8589

Whether it’s for the all-day breakfast or a seasonal Fa La Latte, Caribou Coffee has clearly won the affections of the Alexandria public.

Its high quality, handcrafted beverages include expertly roasted coffee blends and espressos. Other beverages, such as mochas and lattes, are created using only the best ingredients.

Its food offerings include a variety of breakfast sandwiches, baked goods and snacks.

Best Ethnic Food

Great Hunan

2919 Highway 29 S., Alexandria 320-763-6288

Great Hunan is dedicated to offering the most memorable dining experience for its customers.

According to its website, the staff at the Chinese restaurant picks ingredients carefully and uses only the freshest ones to prepare every dish.

The owner and staff will greet you with the warmest welcome, whether you are a returning customer or a newcomer.

They make every effort to create a tidy and clean dining place and guarantee friendly and timely service.

18 Best of the Lakes Area 2022


610 50th Ave. W., Alexandria 320-763-2266

Culver’s, which opened in the lakes area in 2003, offers fast casual dining and a drive-thru.

It is a locally owned and operated restaurant by John Loomis. He and wife, Stacia, and their five children – Simon, Sean, Owen, Rosie and Lyle, live in Osakis. They moved to the area about a year and a half

ago to buy the store. John said they love it and wanted to thank all of their guests for making them feel welcome.

As for why Culver’s was voted as the best in the lakes area, John said it is because the team at Culver’s is so amazing.

“Their hospitality sets us apart in Alexandria,” he said. “Every day, they work hard to take care of our guests because we genuinely care and want every guest who chooses Culver’s to leave happy.”

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Best Pizza

2 Guyz Take and Bake Pizza

1405 Broadway, Suite A, Alexandria 320-759-9994

2 Guyz Take and Bake Pizza has been providing carry out, bake-it-yourself pizza in Alexandria since 2015. In addition, the store also offers chicken wings, salads, dessert pizza, ice cream and sodas.

With two full-time and one part-time employee, 2 Guyz Take and Bake Pizza offers fresh dough, quality cheese, homemade pizza sauce and exceptional customer service. The business is owned by Scott and Carla Zellner.

“We provide a high quality pizza at a good price and treat all our customers like a part of the family,” Scott said.

Best Food Truck

Smokin’ Brews & ‘Ques 1613 N. McKay Ave. NE, Alexandria 320-815-0391

Smokin’ Brews & ‘Ques is this year’s reader’s choice for best food truck in the area.

Offering a pop-up food truck and catering for events such as weddings, private parties, festivals and corporate events, Smokin’ Brews & ‘Ques is owned by Jason Schmidt, who started the business

in 2017. This year he also added a food trailer.

With three employees, Schmidt credits hard work, consistency of product and giving back to the community as factors in being chosen as best food truck this year.

“What an honor to be voted for by the people we love to serve,” he added. “We believe in supporting our local economy. Our community has made this business and is what continues to drive our growth and success.”


The Corral Saloon and Eatery is a favorite restaurant and bar for many. According to the website, “Go ahead and order our fall-off-the-bone ribs, great drink specials and the corral chicken (you won’t find it anywhere else!).” The

Corral Saloon and Eatery has been a centrally located venue for more than 50 years, passing down the same recipes for their famous chicken and ribs from owner to owner. The Corral is also responsible for starting Shoot the Minnow. According to the website, “At The Corral Saloon and Eatery, we make it our mission to be the destination for fun times and great music. There are different events and happenings almost every night of the week. There are also daily happy hours. The event calendar gets updated regularly, so please check in regularly to see what’s going on at the Corral.”

Best Fries


853 Hwy 29 N., Alexandria 320-759-7272

McDonald’s on Highway 29 North in Alexandria was opened in 2001. General Manager Jen Derifield said there are currently 52 employees. And she said the quick service restaurant offers drive-thru, dine-in, curbside pick-up, delivery and a playland.

“We are a family-owned franchise that takes personal growth, development and community relations seriously,” said Derifield.

As for why McDonald’s fries were chosen the best in the lakes area, she stated, “McDonald’s fries are simply the best!”

220 22nd Ave. E. Ste 101, Alexandria 320.762.1256

We Appreciate You Voting Us #1! ALEXANDRIAECHO PRESS | ECHOPRESS .COM READERS’ CHOICE WINNER 2022 ThankYou! LoveI.N.Cisvery grateful forthedonors,sponsors, volunteersandcommunitythatworktogether tochangehopelesstohopefuland selflesslyinspireotherstotransform. Aagard AlexRubbish &Recyclin BellBank BroadwayBallroom DouglasMachine Integrity Title LarsonInsurance NeighborhoodNationalBank SoderholmInsurance SnyderThornburg WealthManagement TriuneLeadershipServices CorporateSponsors: ng Bank ALEXANDRIAECHO PRESS | ECHOPRESS .COM READERS’ CHOICE WINNER 2022 Best of the Lakes Area 2022 21 The Corral Saloon and Eatery 117 Nelson St N.., Nelson 320-762-2416 Editor’s note: This was written
before a fire destroyed the restaurant on Nov. 14. It is unknown at this time if the owners
rebuild. For updates, check the restaurant’s

Crooked Willow

11181 County Road 82 SE, Osakis 612-207-4040

Owners of Crooked Willow Weddings and Events since 2018, Derek and Jody Virkus both gave up corporate careers to start their business. They are grateful for all the support from lakes area businesses and residents and are thankful that Crooked Willow was named best wedding and party venue.

The venue currently has six employees and hosts weddings of all sizes. Although they mostly host weddings, Crooked Willow has hosted many corporate and nonprofit fundraisers, corporate holiday parties, trade shows, employee appreciation events, corporate retreats and seminars.

The couple said they are always improving and growing each year they are business – whether that is from a marketing standpoint or general venue enhancements.

Last year, they rebuilt the Crooked Willow website to better highlight the property and make the information important to their couples more easily accessible and transparent.

From a property perspective, they have added a bridge across the pond on the ground, which offers a beautiful backdrop for wedding photos as well as a place for guests to relax and watch the koi fish in the pond. They also added a stamped concrete walkway for easy access to the bridge.

The couple said they are always thinking ahead on improvements that they can make to enhance the experience for all of the guests.

As for why they think they were chosen as the best in the lakes area, Derek and Jody said they would like to say it is because they have an amazing property, but they believe the property is just part of the equation.

“You can have amazing scenery, but if your guests have a negative

experience, bad news travels much faster than good news,” said Derek.

Jody said, “For us, it’s about the people and the community and providing a welcoming space and property that people feel connected to. Crooked Willow in one capacity or another has been part of the Osakis/ Alexandria community for a long

time. Former owners Chris and Terri Anderson paved the way for Crooked Willow when they had their onsite antique business. We can only hope to honor what they started and keep the wedding and event venue as part of the community for years to come.”

22 Best of the Lakes Area 2022
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Best Bar, Best Bloody Mary

Leaf Valley Mercantile 15233 County Rd. 6 NW., Garfield 320-834-2532

are just a few reasons why Manager Jon

Sarkilahti, believes the Merc was voted best of in the lakes area.

“Our customers are number one.” he added.

The bar and grill opened its doors in 2004 and is operated today by 30 employees.

Best of the Lakes Area 2022 23
even better customers
Great employees and
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Best Live Music or Performance Venue and Best Local Community Event

Andria Theatre

618 Broadway, Alexandria 320-762-8300

Andria Theatre was first opened in 1970 and currently has three full-time employees, including its executive director, Christine Reilly. Andria Theatre took home two Best of the Lakes Area awards this year. It won first place for best live music/performance venue and an event it hosts, Art in the Park, won first place for best local community event.

Reilly believes that the Andria was chosen because it has a variety of shows each year that offers something for everyone. And as for Art in the Park, she said it won because it is a great community event that people of all ages can enjoy.

The Andria Theatre is a community theater that will be putting on nine live productions

this season. Casts of some shows, said Reilly, are students only while other casts are made up of adults or a mix of adults and students.

This past year, one of the biggest changes to occur at the theater was the new digital marquee finished last spring and the painting of the front of the building. Reilly said the spire and marquee were designed to replicate the original that were on the building when it was built in 1936.

Other improvements include a loop hearing system installed in the auditorium and new stage lights.

“All are welcome and invited to the Andria Theatre,” said Reilly. “It is your community theater.”

She added that people can find details about volunteer positions, crew positions and auditioning for shows on the Andria Theatre’s website.

Best Place for Summer Family Fun

Casey’s Amusement Park

1305 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-763-7576

Since 1998, Casey’s Amusement Park has been offering entertainment options for all ages.

Owned by Tom Elmer, the park didn’t make any major changes in the past year but still made its goal around providing fun things to do for people of all ages.

The park features 36 holes of mini golf, three go-kart tracks, bumper boats and kiddie karts.

“I believe we offer great entertainment for all ages in a peaceful environment,” Elmer said, noting that there are about 35 employees who work at the park.

“We are very thankful and appreciate all of your business!” Elmer said.

Best Place for Winter Family Fun

Andes Tower Hills

4505 Andes Road SW, Kensington 320-965-2455

Andes Tower Hills, a ski hill that has served more than a million skiers since the Anderson brothers opened it in 1981, was again chosen as the best place for winter family fun in the Best of the Lakes Area contest.

“We’re appreciative of all the votes,” said General Manager Tom Anderson. “In the wintertime, people like to get outside. Sliding down a hill is really high on the fun list, whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, tubing or cross-country skiing.”

He added that the goal of the staff at Andes is to have people feel better about themselves after enjoying time on the slopes and trails.

Andes offers a cafeteria, a pro shop and rentals. Recent improvements include adding 2,000 square feet to the main chalet lodge, adding a warming house for the tubing hill, upgrading the slope on the rope tow in the terrain park area, making a 45-site campground and getting new rental skis.

One out of three customers travels from the Dakotas, and everyone is greeted by friendly staff – as many as 85 people work there.

A fun fact: Every season, Andes Tower Hills pumps approximately 25 million gallons of water to make snow.

24 Best of the Lakes Area 2022

Best Golf Course

Geneva Golf Club

4181 Geneva Golf Club Drive, Alexandria, 320-762-7089

There are a plethora of golfers who enjoy the golf courses in the lakes area, including Geneva Golf Club.

“I think we were chosen because we have something for everyone in the area. Our leagues can provide everything from a casual night out for couples to a highly competitive match for people looking for that,” said Grant Hanson, director of golf. “We host many different types of events throughout the year and they are welcoming and inclusive to golfers and non-golfers. We have made a commitment to get people involved and provide events that encourage this. With 27 holes and five sets of tees, our golf course also provides a

different experience for each golfer. It can be hard enough to host some of the best golfers in the state and set up easy enough that we host introductory junior tournaments.”

The club, which opened in 2000, planted new trees this year, re-did the cart paths and always continues to make conditional upgrades as needed, said Hanson.

The club has 40 employees.

Including the 27-hole course, the club offers a restaurant, stay and plays, the Scott Dirck Golf Academy, lessons, leagues and special events.

“I would like the community to know that everyone is always welcome. As I stated earlier, we pride ourselves in being welcoming and creating events that anyone can attend. Whether it be music, golf, local business vendors or food you are looking for, we have something for you,” Hanson said.

Best of the Lakes Area 2022 25

Health | Fitness Best


Best Dental Office

Dentistry at the Center

2306 S. Broadway, Suite 4, Alexandria 320-762-5216

Dentistry at the Center began wel coming patients in 1985 with one treatment room and one employee, Dr. David Golke.

Today, Dentistry at the Center operates with 10 rooms, three doc tors and 18 employees, and it’s con tinually improving.

Best Hearing Center

Legacy Hearing Centers

220 22nd Ave. E., Suite 107, Alexandria 320-391-8188

Office manager, Deanna McCabe has worked for Dentistry at the Cen ter for 26 years and attributes its success to its “great team.”

“It is a true camaraderie working environment, we are a family,” she said. “Friendly Doctors and amaz ing staff providing high standards of uncompromising excellent care…we are very grateful for everyone that voted for us.”

Together, they provide dentistry for the entire family from preven

tative care, same-day crowns, and cosmetic dentistry, to Invisalign, sleep apnea appliances and digital dentistry. This year they added an additional laser that provides some restorations and fillings without the need for anesthetic.

The dental office is operated in part by two hometown doctors – Dr.

McCabe said they both love being back in the area with their many friends and family.

Patience with patients, guidance and understanding is what Legacy Hearing Centers believes it was chosen as the best in the lakes area.

The veteran owned, women owned, locally owned patient-oriented hearing service center opened its doors in 2019.

Today, the center is operated by three employees who provide hearing testing and hearing aid sales, service and repair. And recently they added the Experience Center to adjust hearing aids for people in real time to fit their perception of things like recorded music, TV and playing instruments.

In the experience center is a baby grand piano and an assortment of wind instruments and string instruments including electric, acoustic and bass guitars. Patients are also able to bring in their own instruments.

“We recognize that the world many of our patients have been living in may have sounded altered from reality,” said a representative from the center. “Since the average American waits 10 years from the onset of hearing loss that means they have gotten used to their quiet world. Awakening the brain to accept the sounds around them takes time and guidance. Our team provides that support and understanding.”

Legacy Hearing Centers work with many insurance companies and have competitive pricing for those without insurance coverage. Financing can be arranged through several resources.

Best Pharmacy

Trumm Drug

600 Fillmore St., Alexandria 320-763-3111

Trumm Drug offers a wide range of gifts and over-the-counter med ications in their stores. And their pharmacies offer much more than pills in a bottle, according to Aaron Finley, pharmacist/owner.

“Whether it’s adherence pack aging, comprehensive medication reviews, immunizations, chronic disease state management or deliv ering prescriptions to your home, we can help manage all your medica tion related needs,” said Finley.

Over the past year, many of the changes made at the pharmacy have been a result of, or in prepara tion for, the impacts of the pandem ic, said Finley.

Trumm Drug’s mission is to partner with patients by providing

exceptional education, training and products to achieve the best possi ble outcomes from their healthcare decisions.

“Our hardworking staff is ded icated to caring for the members of our community and that level of service has value to our patients,” said Finley.

There are five Trumm Drug phar macies and a durable medical equipment store. Finley said that through the difficulties of the past couple years, Trumm’s amazing team of clerks, pharmacy technicians, pharmacists and support staff have stepped up time and time again to ensure they remained available to provide services.

“They make Trumm Drug what it is so next time you are in one of our stores, thank them because we can’t thank them enough,” he said.

26 Best of the Lakes Area 2022
Elizabeth Amundson and Dr. Tyler Whiting. Both grew up in Alexandria and graduated from Alexandria High School.


420 12th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-6653

Founded in 1948, Knute Nelson develops pro grams and services that enhance the quality of life for adults. It is a non-profit, Christian-based organi zation that combines an extraordinary legacy with an innovative presence in adult services.

Knute Nelson can be found in 43 counties across Minnesota and North Dakota. It employs more than 960 employees altogether. Of those employees, the Knute Nelson Care Center employs 131. More and more patients have been coming through Knute Nelson’s doors. In the past year, it served more than 8,500 individuals.

Whether in short-term rehabilitation or longterm care, patients can expect to receive skilled nursing and therapy at Knute Nelson Care Center.

Short-Term Rehab customizes a care plan for each individual it serves, whether they are recovering from an illness or surgery. Staff helps patients regain the skills, strength and mobility needed to return home as soon as possible. These services may include skilled nursing care and physical, occupational or speech therapy. One of the most enjoyable aspects for patients is often the chance to visit with small children who attend the on-site intergenerational child care center.

Knute Nelson continues to grow. This year, it expanded hospice services to the Willmar area and began a new management and consulting relationship with Glenwood Retirement Village (GRV). GRV has been operating for over 50 years

and offers a care center, memory care, assisted living and independent living options.

Knute Nelson enjoyed several wins this year, with Grand Arbor by Knute Nelson voted Best Assisted Living Facility and Best Senior Living, while Knute Nelson Care Center was voted Best Senior Care Center.

Knute Nelson President and CEO Mark Ander son credited the community and staff for its wins.

“We are constantly inspired to understand the needs of those we serve and to identify new and innovative solutions to serve people,” Anderson said.

“We are passionate about serving people and are so grateful for the support of the communi ty to continue this important work,” said Brady Johnsrud, executive director of Knute Nelson Care Center.

Best of the Lakes Area 2022 27
Best Assisted Living Facility and Best Senior Living (55+) and Best Senior Care Center Thank You Lakes Area BEST LOCAL MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE for your support of the Arts!
“This mile, very 320.762.2114 Thank
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Best Medical Facility

Alexandria Clinic, a service of Alomere Health 610 30th Ave. W., Alexandria 320-763-5123

Alexandria Clinic, a service of Alomere Health, opened in 1946. The clinic, which currently has 255 employees, offers a full range of medical care – express care, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, midwifery, prenatal, dermatology, internal medicine, general and thoracic surgery, urology, ear, nose and throat, pediatrics and podiatry, as well as a variety of outreach services, according to Eddie Reif,

director of community relations and development at Alomere Health.

He also said the clinic has on-site CT, 3D mammography, general X-ray and full-time laboratory services to facilitate their providers in diagnosing patients’ healthcare concerns.

“At the Alexandria Clinic, we are constantly working to improve the ways in which we deliver care in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” said Reif. “We are constantly adding new service lines and physicians to the communities we serve in order for people to get the care that they need and want close to home.”

Best Physical Rehabilitation Facility

Heartland Orthopedic Specialists, a service of Alomere Health 111 17th Ave. E., Suite 101, Alexandria 320-762-1144

Heartland Orthopedic Specialists, a service of Alomere Health, has been serving the community since 1974. They provide physical therapy services and according to the clinic’s mission statement, they provide state-of-the-art

When asked why he thought the Alexandria Clinic was chosen as the best in the lakes area, Reif simply said, “Our people.”

He added that Alexandria Clinic providers and staff love their work and that positivity inspires their team members, which creates a positive work culture, which attracts new providers and staff who share their same passion for care.

“Patients can see and feel that love when they come in for a visit,” said Reif. “It makes all the difference in the world.”

Reif also said that many people don’t see into the leadership

meetings at Alomere, but those in attendance are encouraged and guided by organizational values that include accountability, compassion, excellence, hospitality and accountability. These values, he said, are the constants at every level of the organization, from the senior leadership to their frontline staff.

“We are courageously taking every effort to provide the best quality care possible, close to home,” he said. “We pride ourselves in our unrelenting sense of duty by serving our families, friends and neighbors with a uniquely human experience when we are needed.”

Best Fitness Center

surgical and nonsurgical orthopedic care in the areas of trauma, sports medicine and elective reconstructive surgery.

Mike Doyle, administrative director for Heartland, believes Heartland was chosen for the best physical rehabilitation facility because, “We strive for excellent patient care and helping patients reach their goals.”

He also said, “We focus our services on orthopedic physical therapy to provide the highest level of care.”

Noonan Sports Specialists 503 Hawthorne St., Ste. 145 320-808-9632

To Mike Hawes, co-owner of Noonan Sports Specialists, it’s important to keep learning and growing with the health, fitness, and wellness field.

“This, along with our ability to serve our clients with passion, energy and care, I believe are the reasons we were chosen,” he said.

Noonan started in 2007 and has 10 employees. It offers personal training and youth athlete enhancement. Throughout the past year, it has continued to build its team of coaches, therefore expanding its ability to work with the community.

“We are proud to be a healthy part of the Alexandria community!” Hawes said.

30 Best of the Lakes Area 2022

Best Chiropractic Office

Godfrey Chiropractic and Wellness

119 6th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-762-8185

Godfrey Chiropractic and Wellness first opened its doors in 1977. There are currently three doctors – Dr. Marc Godfrey, Dr. Justin Godfrey and Dr. Jon Godfrey – along with one office manager and one office administrator.

Services offered include chiropractic care, DOT physi cals, high-quality nutrition support, therapeutic cupping, allergy testing, variety of CBD products and patient resources for overall wellness.

Best Eye Clinic

Megan Johnson, office manager, said in the past year, the office has been expanding its nutritional supple ments as well as its variety of CBD products.

She also said that the office’s warm, welcoming atmosphere and their patients’ successful results with condition improvement is what helped them win best chiropractic office in this year’s Best of the Lakes Area contest.

“We aren’t your traditional chiropractic office,” said Johnson. “Our goal is to improve your condition in the least amount of time so you can enjoy the most out of life.”

Eye Associates of Alexandria 1610 Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-4321

The roots of Eye Associates go back to the 1940s with Dr. Bob Vandesteeg, according to Sara Paulson, practice man ager. She said that in the early 1960s, however, the clinic was transferred and then became Bloomquist and Bakewell Eye Clinic. Then, in 2001, Dr. John Hoven and Dr. Jeremy Anderson took over.

Currently, there are four optometrists and 16 staff members. And two of the four optometrists are Alexandria natives and Jefferson High School graduates in the Class of 1989 and 1990.

Eye Associates of Alexandria offers everything from routine eye care for all ages, to medical eye health visits and urgent care types of appointments.

“We have a full optical showroom with glasses for every budget,” said Paulson. “Anything eye related, we’re here for you.”

She added that everyone on their team is very passionate about the patient experience.

“We live and raise our families in the same communities as our patients and care very deeply about our mission – to lead the way with innovation, profes sionalism and personal service,” Paulson said.

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Services Best


Best Dog Grooming

Muddy Paws

515 N. Park St., Alexandria 320-815-4089

Muddy Paws is a dog grooming service that started in Garfield in 2017 and moved to Alexandria last year.

Owned and operated by Megan Nienaber, Muddy Paws provides dog grooming services ranging from a simple bath to full-service haircuts at 515 North Park Street in Alexandria.

Nienaber said she was chosen as the best dog grooming service in the area because she has an amazing group of loyal and supportive clients who believe in her and the work she does.

“Muddy Paws provides the utmost in professional care in a healthy and safe environment that is stress-free for both human and canine clients, all of whom are treated with compassion and kindness,” she added.

Best Bank or Credit Union

Bell Bank 1001 Broadway, Alexandria 320-762-3200

Top-notch employees and a family atmosphere helped Bell Bank earn its Best of the Lakes Area award.

mortgage banking, insurance and wealth management.

“We continue to be blessed with a very experienced staff who provide a full scope of financial services,” Pohlen said. “In the last year we added Bell Insurance team members

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Best Accountant

Jensen PA

218 Third Ave. E. Suite 100 320-762-2395

Jensen PA began servicing the community through bookkeeping, payroll assistance, tax returns and consulting back in 2010.

They operate as a six-person team who take pride in their flexibility with schedules and personal service to their customers.

“Clients are people, not numbers,” said Donna Jensen, president and treasurer. “(We) strive to do best for clients.”

With all of the employees combined, they have 68 years of experience working in CPOA offices.

Those who work with Jensen PA are treated with a big candy dish and great customer service.

Best Auto Repair

Becker Auto Repair

1811 S. Nokomis St., Alexandria 320-762-8060

The Becker Auto Repair shop offers a lot of different auto services in the Alexandria area.

According to the Becker Auto Repair website, “From AC repair to transmission services, our goal is to offer expert auto repairs at an affordable price. We are conveniently located near you in Alexandria.”

The website also noted that most truck or car maintenance services can be completed while customers wait. Many repairs such as AC repair,

brake, and transmission repairs will be performed the same day.

The staff at Becker Auto will provide customers with an easy to understand estimate before beginning any services. And they stand behind all of their work with a guarantee people can count on, according to the website.

Their certified mechanics and highly skilled auto repair specialists provide the best in auto repair services for domestic and import automobiles of all makes and models, as stated on the website.

Best Car Wash


Car Wash

604 44th Ave W., Alexandria 320-613-2062

Zips Car Wash in Alexandria offers car wash services with memberships for unlimited washes. According to the general manager, Jon Johnson, Zips is unique to the area, has a great location and offers good service, which is why they were chosen as the best car wash in the lakes area.

Featuring Burgers, Pastas, Steaks and Prime Rib.
out our Old Fashions, Martinis and Manhattans.
see the best staff in the lakes area!

Best Funeral Home

Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory

2659 Voyager Drive, Alexandria 320-763-5900

“Honoring Lives in the Alexandria area for 150 years.”

Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory can trace its roots in the Alexandria community back to 1872.

It has grown to include seven funeral directors and 25 support staff who work at the funeral home’s two locations in Alexandria.

Why were they chosen as the best in the Alexandria lakes area?

“I believe the families we have served over the years are appreciative of the care they have received from Anderson Funeral Home. We are dedicated professionals who take great pride in

our work and in our community,” said Craig E. Buysse, managing funeral director of Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory and Anderson’s on Broadway.

The funeral home offers complete funeral and cremation care, and also operates Douglas County’s only crematory.

“This is important for families,” Buysse noted. “When they choose us

Best Tanning Salon


700 Cedar St., Suite, 103 Alexandria 320-491-0855

Nicole Mehrer and Allie Janssen opened Glow. in 2019. Together, they offer custom airbrush tans for those special occasions in your life, from prom to weddings.

Since they first opened the doors

of Glow., the spray tan service has been growing and leaving its customers glowing. In 2022, they saw their highest number of spray tans for prom attendees and brides.

Janssen and Mehrer attribute Glow.’s success to their attentive customer service.

“We not only help our clients achieve their desired tan outcome, but we are building relationships while providing an excellent customer experience,” said Mehrer.

The two care so much for their clients that all of their tanning solutions are made up of 100% organic and naturally derived ingredients.

“It’s our mission to make everyone feel beautiful in their own skin,” Mehrer said.

“It would be our pleasure to get you glowing.”

for cremation, their loved one never leaves our care.”

Throughout its 150 year history, Andersons continually works to improve upon what it has done in the past.

“This past year, our funeral directors all worked to achieve the Pursuit of Excellence Award through the National Funeral Directors Association in key areas of funeral

service,” Buysse said. “We were awarded a Certificate of Honorable Mention for our ‘Tribute to our Veterans’ at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Alexandria.”

Something readers may not know: Andersons’ start in business came before Custer’s Last Stand took place at Little Bighorn.

Best Eyelash Salon

Ella’s Salon

719 Darling Ave., Alexandria 320-219-7676

In 2009, Emily Regnier opened Ella’s Salon to offer hair, nail and skin care services to the community.

Today, she continues those services with 19 employees at the ready. Regnier says it is because of her employees’

quality of work and dedication to their customers that Ella’s was voted as the best in the lakes area.

“We strive for the best customer service and care for our customers like they are friends and family,” said Regnier.

“We won’t rush you in and out or treat you like you are a number. Come as you are, leave at your best.”

34 Best of the Lakes Area 2022

Best Child Care Facility

Alexandria Area YMCA Child Care 110 Karl Drive, Alexandria 320-834-9622

Alexandria Area YMCA Child Care offers infant, toddler, pre-school and K-readiness child care and pre-school, as well as drop-in and occasional care.

The business started in 2010, and currently has 50 employees.

YMCA Child Care offers a pre-school and kindergarten readiness curriculum built into child care program hours that support working families.

“YMCA Child Care is a place for children to explore, learn, and grow in an environment where they will feel safe, cared for, and celebrated. In every program and every classroom, we address the specific needs of children based not only on age, but also individual pace of development. We believe the values and skills learned early on are vital building blocks for quality of life and future success,” wrote Whitney Walters, child care director.

There also have been some significant changes in the past year.

Best Cleaning Service

Sota Cleaning Co.

324 Broadway St., Suite 216, Alexandria 320-761-5257

Sota Cleaning Co., formerly Rantasha Services, is a residential cleaning service that offers onetime, recurring and deep cleaning.

Owner Angela Rantasha explained that the company has rebranded with a new name that better represents the community.

“Alexandria is one of the top destinations in Minnesota and one of the best places to live,” she said.

“The Alexandria Area has been selected as one of three communities statewide to form a Rural Child Care Innovation Program Core Team to lead the community engagement process designed to address the challenges of child care, preserve existing child care businesses and add new child care slots,” Walters wrote.

The business started in 2018 and has now grown to include 11 employees.

Ransasha said the company was chosen as the best cleaning service because it is able to meet the needs of the community for consistent, quality cleaning.

“Our cleaning techs are trustworthy and reliable,” she said. “We guarantee our work.”

She also noted that the company has simplified the process of hiring a cleaner, by removing the need to call references, train the cleaner, or leave them a list of things to do.

“We take care of all that for you,” she added. “You simply come home to a clean house.”

406 Broadway • Alexandria • 320-763-5200 Thank you! convenient • local • helpful service • great selection for voting us the #1 Hardware Store
of the Lakes Area 2022 35

Best Florist or Greenhouse

Colorful Seasons Garden Center

3400 Dakota St., Alexandria 320-762-1548

Colorful Seasons Garden Center, which opened in 1989, offers a complete garden center and home and garden decor as well as a full Christmas showroom, greenhouse with annuals, houseplants, succulents, poinsettias and more, nursery with trees, shrubs, fruits, fruit trees, perennials and more, landscape design service and installation and irrigation installation.

Lynelle Brickweg, owner, says the business boasts between 10 and 20 employees depending on the season.

This past year, an “aquaponics greenhouse” was built, which Brickweg said is a combination of hydroponics – growing plants in water without

Best Heating and Plumbing and Best Electrical

Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical

2510 S. Broadway St., Alexandria 329-762-8645

If you have a plumbing or heating problem in the middle of the night, Ellingsons will come to the rescue.

It’s one reason why it was named Best Heating, Electrical or Plumbing Company in the Alexandria Lakes Area for the seventh year in a row.

Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Its mission statement: “We are a dedicated team of professionals enhancing the lives of customers

soil – and aquaculture – raising fish – that creates a sustainable, self-sufficient system.

“We are now growing lettuce and spinach in this greenhouse environment,” she said.

Along with the main retail store, Brickweg said, Colorful Seasons has two other growing range sites, which include a total of 14 greenhouses. Those are where the bedding plants, vegetables, herb succulents and perennials are started and transplanted.

The first crops are started in February, she said. They grow approximately 80,000 annuals in 4.5inch pots as well as 18,000 annuals, vegetables and herbs for four packs and 3.5-inch pots for spring and summer sales. In July, the poinsettias are transplanted for Christmas sales.

Brickweg said Minnesotans love to decorate their homes as the seasons change and that

Colorful Seasons offers the best selection of annual bedding plants, perennials, shrubs and trees and garden decor for people to beautify the outside of their homes and a wonderful selection of interior home decor, too, which is why they were chosen as the best in the lakes area.

“Our store changes right along with the seasons,” she said. “Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are here to help you create a lovely home both inside and outside. There is always something new to see at Colorful Seasons.”

and employees while providing exceptional mechanical and electrical solutions to the communities we serve while maintaining a family-like environment.”

The company traces its roots back to December 1981. It’s now grown to 119 employees in Alexandria and Dickinson, North Dakota.

It offers residential and commercial plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services, including design, installation, and maintenance, as well as sheet metal fabrication and commercial building automation.

It also has The Fireplace Store, which provides complete fireplace projects from start to finish, including

fireplaces, and inserts, venting, piping, electrical, and stonework – as well as 24-hour service, every day of the year.

Ellingsons integrated new service management software this year, which streamlines scheduling and dispatch and improves technician efficiency and customer experience.

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Best Hair Salon

Polished Looks Salon & Spa

3905 Hwy. 29 S., Alexandria 320-759-1460

Polished Looks Salon & Spa offers haircuts to men, women, and children, as well as waxing and hair coloring, and pedicures, manicures and gel polish.

The business started in 2012 and has five hair stylists who are independent, not employees.

Stylist Tammy Zeithamer said the stylists work well as a team and enjoy each other and their customers, who are like family to them. Their salon is comfortable and friendly, leading voters to choose them as the best hair salon in the lakes area.

“I think we were chosen because we have amazing customers who are incredibly loyal,” she said. “We love what we do and our customers feel that.”



Rubbish & Recycling

1301 36th Ave. W., Alexandria 320-763-4712

Founded in 1969, Alex Rubbish & Recycling Inc. has provided more than 50 years of service to the community, offering residential and commercial garbage service, recycling and roll off container rental service.

When asked why he thinks Alex Rubbish won Best Garbage Company, company president Shaynen Schmidt wrote, “We are locally owned and

operated, taking pride in customer service and supporting our local communities.”

With 20 employees, Alex Rubbish now services all of Douglas County, along with parts of Otter Tail County, Pope County and Todd County.

Over the past year, it has invested in new trucks, efficient route tracking and employee training.

“We are beyond grateful for our customers, businesses and community that support our locally owned company,” Schmidt wrote.

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Best Garbage Company

Best Photographer

Jennifer Guenther Photography

104 6th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-815-8174

Jennifer Guenther has owned and operated Jennifer Guenther Photography since 2006. She offers high quality, professional photography for newborns, families, high school seniors, individuals and businesses. And she’ll throw in a couple of well lobbed jokes at her expense for no extra charge.

“My main goal in the service I provide is to prove to you just how amazingly beautiful you and your family are, to capture your life in all its real and spectacular ways,” said Guenther.

She said she is always investing into her business in many ways that people may not see. This year, she purchased a new camera and a new

computer, which she said is so much faster than her “last old dinosaur.” She also purchased software needed for editing and running her business.

The items she invests in that clients do see and appreciate, she said, are new (most of the time old and vintage) props, newborn clothing, swaddles and backdrops. She tries very hard to create new set ups and new locations or to use the same locations differently to ensure each client has their own specifically designed and unique outcome of their photographs.

When asked why she thought she was chosen as the best photographer in the area, Guenther said, “You are asking me why I was chosen as the best in the lakes area? I would like to know too! I am humbled and grateful.”

She then said she guessed it is because she has been doing it for

a long time. She knows what works for her and what she is good at and always tries to be better than the previous season.

“My hope is that when someone hires me, they will look at their photos 25 years from now and the quality will still hold, the look and tone are timeless. I try to combine current trends with the tried and true, the posed and the candids,” she said. “We have many fabulously talented photographers in the lakes area, many of whom are my dear friends. Most of us view competition differently, maybe it propels us to do good work but we know in the end we can’t do it all.”

She said there are reasons why people choose the photographer they do whether it is style, price, or personality. She does not take it for granted when she is chosen or when clients come back again and again.

“I have been doing this long enough that the little babies I once photographed are now graduating high school, or my previous high school seniors are now married and having me take their baby’s photos, or when I took a couple’s engagement photos to their third kid’s milestone session,” said Guenther. “That legacy means so much to me.”

Amy Christopherson — State Farm Insurance Agent

220 22nd Ave. E., Suite 101, Alexandria 320-762-1256

Amy Christopherson started her agency in 2017 after being with State Farm since 2004. She has won not only Best Insurance

Agency, but Best Customer Service and Best Small Company to Work For.

“Our mission is simple — to help protect families,” Christopherson wrote. “I do this by serving my team, customers, and community. I strive every day to take really good care of my team because I know when I do this they will take really good

care of our customers.”

Christopherson continued, “Customers have many choices when it comes to insurance. We do our best to provide them advice and make sure they know we appreciate them.”

Among other services, the business offers personal price plans, with auto, fire, life and health insurance products. One market in which it has seen growth this year is small business policies.

Christopherson wrote that over the past year, “I’ve been blessed with two of the best — Rylie and Hannah — (who) both joined our team following their summer internship. I invest in my team’s personal and professional development and spend time training them so they are confident and knowledgeable — they just keep getting better every year!”

Best Barber Shop

100% Advisory

2715 Hwy 29 S., Suite 107, Alexandria 320-766-4300

Jesse Trujillo, owner of 100% Advisory, opened for business in 2021.

“I love what I do and I think people really like my work and the positive environment I’m creating at my shop,” he said.

Trujillo says he has the most unique shop in town while providing his customers with quality haircuts and beard trims.

38 Best of the Lakes Area 2022
Best Insurance Agency, Best Customer Service and Best Small Company to Work For

Best Landscape or Irrigation

Alex Irrigation & Landscaping

2750 E. Lake Carlos Lane NE, Carlos 320-852-7595

Alex Irrigation & Landscaping has been providing lawn, irrigation and landscaping services in the area since 1987.

Irrigation services provided include new installations, as well as maintenance and repairs, such as spring start-ups and fall winterizations. Landscaping services include lighting, paver patios and driveways, retaining walls, rip-rap, shrubs, firepits, rock and edging. Lawn services include lawn preparation and hydroseeding, fertilization, weed control and aeration. In addition, the

company provides snow plowing in the winter.

Owner Steve Svee said there are several factors in the business being chosen as the best landscape or irrigation service, including its dedicated and knowledgeable employees, the quality of their work, dependable and reliable customer service, and a focus on developing relationships.

“We have a dedicated staff that has been with the company for many years,” he said. “Our combined years of service is 200 plus. We work together to meet the needs of our customers, delivering outstanding products and unsurpassed service to ensure the project meets the homeowner’s expectations and more.”

Best Nail Salon

Nails of Alex

1402 Broadway, Alexandria 320-759-3018

Nails of Alex was opened in 2015 and currently has seven staff

members. The business offers pedicures, manicures, dipping SNS, acrylics and gels.

They try to give the best services to their clients and want to make them feel relaxed.

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Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) of Douglas County Lakes Area

44 Glenn Road NW, Alexandria 320-759-3022

When asked why Love In the Name of Christ – or Love INC. – of Douglas County Lakes Area was selected for a Best of Alexandria Award, Executive Director Teresa Veraguth said people find value in helping other people.

“We are all invested relationally to each other,” Veraguth said. “God is good all the time.”

Love INC began in 2007 and has three employees. They offer a variety of services:

Making non-emergency referrals for neighbors in need to their partner agencies and churches.

Accepting referrals from partner churches and agencies to vet and help their neighbors in need.

A clothing ministry.

Based on donations provided and and to those who qualify, Rainbow Rider, gas and grocery cards are potentially available.

Offering an Empowering Life Program, which offers classes to help transform lives and the community In the Name of Christ. “We ensure everyone knows they have value, capacity and potential,” Veraguth said.

Offering basic needs incentives to those who participate in their Empowering Life Program.

Offering those who successfully graduate from a class an option to receive an appliance.

“Lastly and most importantly we offer an open ear and prayer,” Veraguth said.

Love INC has made some changes in the last year. For starters, their national organization changed

their logo because the way they communicate has changed.

“When our previous logo was created almost 20 years ago (2003) simply having a website was hightech,” Veraguth said. “Smartphones and tablets were not yet invented and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn’t even exist.”

Veraguth added that as new technologies and digital marketing platforms emerged, the way people interact has changed, and graphic design has changed along with it. “In light of this, when we evaluated how our current logo worked in today’s marketing climate, we identified a variety of opportunities for improvement.”

Love INC also updated its “Transformational Tuesday” logo to

Best Auctioneer

Todd Whiting

1124 Broadway, Alexandria 320-766-2200

Todd Whiting is not only a real estate agent with Century 21, he is an auctioneer and was named the best auctioneer in the Best of the Lakes Area contest.

He offers traditional real estate sales, along with selling real estate by auction, benefit fundraiser auctioneering and contract auctioneering, where he hires out to other auctioneers who need assistance at their auction sale.

This past year, he purchased a new PA sound system to enhance his auctioneering service.

As for why he was chosen as the best auctioneer, Whiting said, “Those

match the new affiliate logo and incorporated a new Empowering Life Program that offers core classes and electives to help people invest relationally, spiritually, physically (through incentives) and emotionally.

“The program class opportunities are growing with new classes being birthed and added,” Veraguth said. “We are hoping to have the classes running in trimesters (rather than semesters) beginning in 2023. Stay tuned to our social media and website to learn more!”

Veraguth said Love INC is grateful for every single person who interacts with them. “We would not exist without all the churches, volunteers, donors, partners and participants.”

who have been there say I bring energy and enthusiasm making the event fun and exciting to be there in raising money for the cause.”

40 Best of the Lakes Area 2022
Best Nonprofit Organization
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Best Law Firm

Thornton, Dolan, Bowen, Klecker & Burkhammer, P.A.

1017 Broadway, Alexandria 320-762-2361

Thornton, Dolan, Bowen, Klecker & Burkhammer, P.A. was voted best law firm in the Best of the Lakes Area contest.

The firm started back in 1914 and has 11 employees today.

It’s a general practice law firm, offering a wide range of services – estate planning, real estate law, family law, criminal defense and probate matters.

What’s the key to the company’s success?

“The Thornton Law Office has been part of the lakes area community for over 100 years,” noted Megan Burkhammer, attorney. “We work hard for our clients with integrity and compassion.

Best Spa

WELL & Company

1103 Broadway, Suite 102, Alexandria 320-314-3828

Named Best Spa after only two years in business, WELL & Company strives to create a relaxing and warm environment where its clients can forget about daily stressors even as they make progress toward their skin care goals.

“We want them to feel the personalization that goes into their treatment at WELL & Company,” said marketing coordinator Sabrina Benning. “The attention to detail from our team is so apparent; constantly focusing on fusing advanced skincare treatments with relaxation for our clients.”

WELL & Company was founded in 2020 and has 22 employees. Its services include facials, microdermabrasion, microneedling, chemical peels, injectables (botox, disport, filler, sculptra, etc.), advanced laser services for face and body, and AviClear acne clearance.

In the past year, the company opened a second location in Sartell, Minnesota, and brought in the first FDA-approved acne clearance laser in a tri-state area, Benning said.

“Our staff talks often about creating the WELL experience for our guests; from the moment they see an advertisement, to walking into our door, and then the followup after the procedure, we want them to feel the personalization that goes into their treatment at WELL & Company,” Benning said. “WELL & Company is where relaxation meets results.”

110 30th Ave. W • Alexandria, MN 320-763-7468

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the Lakes Area 2022 41
Best of

Best Manufacturing Company and Best Large Company to Work For

Douglas Machine

1705 34th Ave. W., Alexandria 320-763-6587

Douglas Machine was founded in 1964 by Bud Thoen with a vision to invent and build exceptional automated packaging machinery. Two years later, Vern Anderson joined the newly founded business. Now, Douglas is a 100% employeeowned company and there are more than 700 employees, according to Sara Hoidahl, marketing and communications manager for the company.

Douglas, which took home two Best of the Lakes Area awards – best large company to work for and best manufacturing – is a global leader

in automated secondary packaging solutions for food and beverage companies.

They specialize in the design and manufacture of case and tray packers, shrink wrap systems, cartoners and variety pack systems, said Hoidahl.

In addition to its recently expanded main campus, Douglas is consolidating multiple secondary facilities into a single building. With this move, they hope to improve employee experiences and organizational efficiency.

The consolidated space is currently being expanded and renovated with move-in scheduled for early 2023. As a growing organization they also continue to

add to their team. Openings can be found on their website.

“Douglas has been a part of this great community for almost 60 years and we recognize we have a role to play in making it even better,” said Hoidahl of why she believes Douglas was a winner in the Best of the Lakes Area contest. “This starts with being intentional about having a positive impact on our employee owner’s lives and hoping that impact ripples into the surrounding community. To that end, we work hard to create good employee experiences, promising career opportunities and compelling ownership benefits. We also try to positively impact the


with objectives to improve the quality of life in our community, and support employee owners in their own charitable giving through a dedicated gift-matching program.”

Hoidahl said employees work hard, but also love to have fun, from their “Summer Celebration” week to their “Employee Ownership Month” and many other celebrations in between, they like to participate in activities as varied as the rubber chicken toss, football throwing contests, bean bag toss, ice cream socials, lunches, raffles, prizes and more.

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Best Massage


by Jamie

303 22nd Ave. W., Alexandria 320-759-1448

Massage by Jamie is owned and operated by Jamie McLaughlin and is located in Living Tree Massage at 303 22nd Ave. W. in Alexandria.

With 11 years of experience, McLaughlin offers 30-, 60- and

Best Veterinary Clinic

Alexandria Veterinary Clinic

710 Third Ave. W., Alexandria 320-762-8112

In operation since 1917, Alexandria Veterinary Clinic currently has 25 employees and in-house diagnostic equipment, digital radiology, surgical laser, cold laser, ICU unit, dentistry, rehabilitation services and telemedicine. It also has a boardcertified dermatologist and an orthopedic surgeon, along with the Four Paws Lodge facility, which offers boarding, grooming, and a self-serve dog wash.

90-minute deep tissue massages, as well as relaxation, geriatric and pregnancy massages. Cupping and two different aromatherapy sessions are also available.

McLaughlin noted that she was chosen as the best massage therapist because she loves people and the work she does.

“I feel blessed every day to be able to help people feel better,” she said.

In the past year, McLaughlin has also been training in hypnotherapy, NLP, EFT and breathwork.

“Check out all the new things I will be offering in 2023,” she added. “It’s going to be an exciting year.”

When asked what makes the clinic the best of the Lakes Area, a representative wrote, “Our practice focuses on providing exceptional care to our clients and patients utilizing an outstanding support staff of certified veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, certified canine rehabilitation practitioner, client service representatives, animal caretakers and a groomer. We work together to create a fantastic work environment while focusing on the highest quality of medicine for our patients.”

The business prides itself on being a part of the community.

“We strive to provide quality products and excellent, prompt, courteous service to achieve client satisfaction.”

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Best Resort


Resort and Conference Center

2100 Arrowwood Lane, Alexandria 320-762-1124

According to the Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center website, the resort hosts a wide variety of events and opportunities for visitors.

Arrowwood is an all-season resort focused around Minnesota’s natural splendor. People can enjoy the natural beauty of its lakeside resort hotel, where they’ll find year-round service and activities, from golf at the 18-hole Atikwa Championship Golf Course to the indoor Big Splash Waterpark.

Best Mortgage Lender

Glenwood State Bank

2221 S. Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-0200

With five locations and 104 employees, Glenwood State Bank is one of the largest mortgage lending teams in the area with a combined 80-plus years of experience.

“We are able to make in-house decisions and work personally with every customer who comes through our doors,” said Chelsey Genszler, social media and marketing specialist at Glenwood State Bank. “We value relationships and work to learn and truly understand the needs of each customer we interact with.”

The bank can trace its roots all the way back to 1907.

Today, the bank offers financial services – consumer/personal banking, along with business banking, agricultural banking, real estate, insurance, and online/technology tools.

Glenwood State Bank recently opened a public “Think Tank” and other community rooms that are available for community use. Just call the bank and ask for more information and availability.

Glenwood State Bank is a family-owned, family-operated and locally-operated bank, which means it can make fast, in-house decisions, noted Genszler. “We also strive to be the premier community bank positively impacting our customers, employees and communities through Christian principles.”


Best Title Company

Integrity Title

2209 Jefferson St., Suite 301, Alexandria 320-763-3311

Integrity Title, opened in 1999, offers real estate title services. The company is owned by Jill and Jim Wagner.

Jill Wagner believes the reason they won for best title company is the customer service they provide.

“We want our clients to feel that they are not just a number on a file,” she said. “We truly are concerned about their transaction and want to make it as simple as possible and

to know that we are always here to assist them, even after their file has closed.”

Wagner also said that their company supports local. She said the community is what it is because of the people who live and work here.

“Spending money out of our area does not help our community –and this applies to title companies as well. We can see companies out of our area doing real estate transactions and that takes the funds again out of our community,” she said. “We take pride in giving back to other nonprofit organizations and by also volunteering with local groups.”

Best Tattoo Parlor

RM Tattoo and Body Piercing

1203 Broadway, Alexandria 320-310-3582

RM Tattoo, owned by Randy McKernan, was opened in 2008. The shop offers tattoos and body piercing. This past year, Mckernan added two more artists to help with the demand. There are currently six employees.

McKernan said he would like to thank everyone for their support over the years and added that the reason his shop was chosen the best in the lakes area is because, “We strive to make sure each client leaves happy.”

Best Real Estate Company

Kvale Real Estate 609 Broadway, Alexandria 320-766-8823

High values, great communication, experience and the customer’s best interest are just some of the reasons owner and broker Carl Kvale feels he and his team of 8 employees were named the best real estate company in the lakes area.

“And showing our clients that we truly care about them,” Kvale added.

Since 2020, Kvale Real estate has serviced the community as a locally owned and

operated real estate brokerage striving to provide the ultimate real estate experience to its clients.

“Our advice and council is the true value of what one pays for with a commission and this valuable advice is based upon what we call ‘The 4 E’s’. Experience, Expertise, Ethics, and Energy,” Kvale said.

Those values can be expected when dealing with each employee because they love what they do.

46 Best of the Lakes Area 2022
As for changes in the last year, Wagner said they added Donna Bruzek as a new employee and said, “She is a rock star and a great asset for our team.”


Best Boat or Marine Dealer

Alex Auto & Marine LLC

1424 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-762-8412

Alex Auto & Marine specializes in fun on the water. They still sell pre-owned cars, but watercraft and accessories have become a big part of their business.

In addition to pre-owned automobiles, Alex Auto & Marine offers new and used boats and pontoons, as well as docks and lifts, and snow plows. Brands available include Lund boats, Viaggio by Misty Harbor pontoons, Boss and Snoway

snow plows, and Beach King docks and lifts. The store now also sells the Massimo power sports line of sideby-sides, ATVs and other vehicles.

Owner Todd Hansen gave credit to the team at Alex Auto & Marine for making it the best boat or marine dealer by providing the best service and treating customers as friends. He also explained that the brands they sell carry a high standard and are huge household names.

Hansen also noted that the staff focuses on providing the excellent customer service that everyone deserves, even with the interesting

days and changing times.

“We care about our customers and want to be your one-stop shop,

offering quality brands at affordable prices,” he added.


Creative Touch Boutique

615 Broadway, Alexandria 320-762-8786

Founded in 2001, Creative Touch Boutique has nine employees and offers two ways to shop — in the store located in downtown Alexandria, and at

“We are a lifestyle boutique featuring women’s and kids clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as a large selection of home décor — both seasonal and everyday items,” wrote Natosha VanLiere, marketing director. “We pride ourselves in offering exceptional customer service. Our customers are the most important part of our business and we always want them to have the best experience while shopping in our store or on our website.”

Creative Touch also offers free local pickup and free shipping with orders over $100.

One big development for the business is the construction of a new location on the corner of Fifth and Broadway.

“We are extremely excited to offer three times the retail space, allowing for a more comfortable shopping experience and the opportunity to bring in new or expand product lines,” VanLiere wrote. “We will also house our warehouse on the second floor of the new building. Our shipping department will be there as well and will allow for a bigger space, as well as a full photo studio for model and product photos. We will be in the new building Summer of 2023!”

As to what makes it the best of the Lakes Area, VanLiere thinks it’s because Creative Touch has the best customers.

“We truly love what we do and love even more to share it with the CTB community,” she wrote. “They have continued to support us and we are so thankful. We also pride ourselves in being that store that ANYONE can shop at and find something they love for themselves, their home or that perfect gift!”

Gift Shop or Boutique

Best Bicycle Shop

Jake’s Bikes

419 N. Nokomis St., Alexandria 320-219-7433

Jake’s Bikes opened in 2009, but owner Jake Capistrant’s dream of opening his own shop started nearly three decades ago when he began working at The Bike Shop in downtown Alexandria.

Jake’s Bikes is now in a bigger and better location, which Capistrant said has helped enhance customers’ shopping experience.

The hiring of what he called his “awesome team” has helped guide customers through their bike-buying process.

The mission at Jake’s, said Capistrant, is to “provide you with the means, opportunities and inspiration to ride bicycles.”

Jake’s Bikes, with its eight employees, offers bike and accessory sales, service and rentals, area experts in bike trip planning and advocacy, and fitness equipment sales and service.

At Jake’s Bikes, where it’s all about the experience, Capistrant said his staff members love to ride bikes –no matter if it’s riding to work in the morning, riding on a Monday night with the Big Ole Bike Club or if it’s hitting the local mountain biking trails.

“Every employee engages in making our customers into fans by offering best in class service,” he said.

Capistrant also shared that Jake’s Bikes teams up with the annual Jingle Bells Telethon each year and has recycled and donated more than 200 bicycles to children for Christmas.

Best Appliance Store and Best Home Furnishings

Cullen’s Home Center

1620 N. Nokomis St., Alexandria 320-762-1249

For 46 years, Cullen’s Home Center has been a pillar in the Alexandria community. A familyowned and operated business, Cullen’s has more than 45 employees and is a secondgeneration business.

The store offers appliances, furniture, electronics, building

products, fireplaces, cabinets, countertops and more.

“We pride ourselves on customer service,” said Jana Horstman, one of the owners. “We have employees who have been here for 10, 15, 25 years plus. Our customers know what they are going to get when they visit our location.”

The store had a major interior remodel two years ago and added Cullens Furniture Gallery.

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Best Building Supply Store

Hilltop Lumber

1405 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-763-9663

With locations in Alexandria, Glenwood, Parkers Prairie and Ottertail, Hilltop Lumber has built a solid reputation as the best building supply store in the Lakes Area.

Hilltop began in 1988 with the founders envisioning a company that serves its customers and treats them the way they would want to be treated if they were remodeling or building a home. “The objective at Hilltop is to develop a relationship with the contractor or homeowner,

where we are viewed as a partner in their project,” said Kayla Fearing, director of marketing.

She added that the 51 Alexandria employees of Hilltop Lumber work as a team to provide 100% customer satisfaction through superior design, product knowledge, on time delivery and service after the sale.

Hilltop offers a full range of building supplies and home improvement products such as windows, doors, roofing, siding, decking, railing and more.

“We believe we have the best design and estimating team in the business. Our experience with

Best Convenience Store


700 Voyager Dr., Alexandria 320-763-8860

3373 S. Broadway, Alexandria 320-759-1580

716 Third Ave. E., Alexandria 320-759-2252

Casey’s General Store was chosen as Best Convenience Store in the Alexandria Lakes Area.

It currently has three locations in Alexandria.

Taken from Casey’s website: “Since our humble beginning in 1968 as a general store in Boone, Iowa, Casey’s has steadily grown from the heart of one community to the next. Today, we serve communities across 16 states in more than 2,300 locations. Yet our focus will never waiver from being the friendly face who brews your first cup of coffee to greeting you with a smile on your last stop after work. While we continuously aim to create innovative services and offerings, we’ll always stay true to making life better for our communities and guests every day.”

projects of all sizes makes us a valuable resource for our customers,” said Fearing. “We can help customers with everything from project design and layout, to choosing paint colors, flooring and cabinet styles.”

Hilltop’s kitchen and bath design center features cabinetry, countertops, flooring, blinds and closet systems. The kitchen and bath design center features cabinetry,

countertops, flooring blinds, closet systems, and ONYX showers.

“We also have an expert team of draftsmen to help design and bring your project to life,” said Fearing. “We have a great team that believes in our purpose and lives by our core values. Ethics, team player, excellence, have fun and change – make a difference.”

Best Car Dealership

Alexandria Motors

3710 Highway 29 S., Alexandria 320-762-2114

Founded in 2008 and boasting 60 employees, Alexandria Motors has won Best Car Dealership.

Over the past year, the business has made several key additions to its team, including hiring Mark Kruse as general manager, Russ Utesch as service manager, and Corey Haagenson as body shop manager.

“We are ready for the future of electric vehicles with additional state-of-the-art equipment, training and vehicle charging stations,” Kruse wrote.

Alexandria Motors offers a great family atmosphere providing new and used vehicle sales, with new car franchises including Chevrolet, Cadillac and Mazda. It also has a service department that services all makes and models, a parts department

that has access to its core brands, plus most makes and models, and a collision center with a cutting-edge paint booth. Additionally, the business has a free local pick-up and drop-off shuttle service.

As to what makes Alexandria Motors the best of the Lakes Area, Kruse wrote, “We believe that in the past year we have provided an improved culture that our customers and employees can feel every time they step foot into the dealership. We have an exceptional group of employees that have the unified mission to exceed our customers’ and employees’ expectations and maintain their loyalty for a lifetime. Being a part of this community is a great pleasure and each year we strive to give back to our fullest capabilities.”

Kruse continued, “We provide the feeling that we are a different dealership, and the customer comes first.”

50 Best of the
Lakes Area

Best Antique Store

Yesterday’s 517 Broadway, Alexandria 320-762-8990

Yesterday’s has become a favorite among those seeking to furnish their homes with unique modern, vintage, and antique items.

“We take pride in staging our antiques with modern touches in store which our customers love,” said marketing coordinator Liz Drevlow.

Yesterday’s began in 1994. It has six employees and multiple vendors. Just over a year ago, it combined buildings with The Dashery.

“It has been such a great change for both businesses!” Drevlow said.

She credited customers for their win in the Echo Press Best of the Lakes Area contest.

“We absolutely love all of our amazing customers who come in and support us,” she said. “It has been an honor to be a part of this great community and to serve all of you. We couldn’t do it without you all!”

Best Flooring or Carpet Store

Arnquist CarpetsPlus 805 First Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-8050

Arnquist CarpetsPlus is a four-generationowned business that opened in 1930 and has 14 employees. Now in its tenth decade, the store offers a variety of flooring options including carpet, wood, vinyl, plank and porcelain tile. Arnquist also partners with other groups in the area to support the community through charitable contributions.

Business owner Adam Arnquist wrote that over the past year, “We have been working with a local technology business to create a new and fresh look for our website, as well as re-branding.”

When asked why he thought Arnquist was chosen as the best in the Lakes Area, Adam Arnquist wrote that it was the customers.

“We work really hard to be consistently great at what we do. We are very fortunate and thankful to have contractors and design partners that trust us with their clients,” he added.

friendly. selection. toourguests TH AN KY OU forvoting CashWiseLiquor asAlexandria’s R E M A R K A B L E I N C R E D I B L Y as Alexandria s BestLiquorStore 801NorthNokomisStNE |Alexandria,MN |(320)762-2524 Visitouradsonlineat ALEXANDRIAECHO PRESS | ECHOPRESS .COM READERS’ CHOICE WINNER 2022 102022_BestOf_7_25x4_75Ad_7044 Best of the Lakes Area 2022 51

Best Hardware Store

Alexandria Ace Hardware 406 Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-5200

Alexandria Ace Hardware is a locallyowned business that was founded in 1963 and has 19 employees, and 11 more at its Long Prairie location.

Among other services, Ace makes keys, including dealership quality automotive keys and fobs, rents carpet cleaning machines, mixes paint and color matches custom colors, cuts glass and screens, and helps people find solutions to their problems and projects.

Over the past year it has expanded its grilling section again, adding more Weber, Traeger, Blackstone and Ooni accessories, seasonings and sauces. It also has expanded its battery-powered outdoor power equipment.

“We have a great group of friendly, knowledgeable people here ready to help you when you walk through the door,” a store representative wrote. “We try very hard to provide the best service to all our customers. We work hard at being in stock on the items we offer.”

Best Liquor Store

Cash Wise Liquors

801 N. Nokomis St., Alexandria 320-762-2524

Cash Wise Liquors opened in Alexandria in 2011. The liquor store, which has 16 employees, can fill customer requests and offers carryouts, online or phone curbside pickup, delivery, event ordering and price matching.

This past year, Cash Wise completed a store expansion and remodeling project, according to Chris Nehring, marketing communications generalist. It is also under new management, she said, and there are new training plans for the management team and all staff members on product knowledge, customer service, team communication and idea collaboration between all staff members.

She also noted there are more one-on-one training plans and goal setting for staff members.

When asked why they were voted as the best liquor store, Nehring said the Alexandria location strives to give the best customer service and product knowledge by continuing best practices and new product training meetings for all staff.

“We continue to keep and expand our products with the ever-changing trends and products in the industry,” she said.

She also added that the Alexandria location has “always been a location with a team that supports, teaches and inspires in and outside the workplace. We are a team that builds meaningful relationships with each other and our customers.”

Best Paint Store

1402 Broadway St., Suite 1, Alexandria 320-763-7384

Although the Alexandria location of SherwinWilliams has been open since 1994, the business itself has been around for 155 years, opening in 1866 in Cleveland, Ohio.

In addition to residential and commercial industrial products and a full line of specialized floor coatings, Sherwin-Williams offers color consults, color and stain matching, and deliveries.

In the past year, former manager Kim Haan moved on to a store in Arizona and Ashley Wussow took over as manager of the Alexandria store, with Paul Kies as assistant manager. The store’s six employees include several other new faces as well.

Wussow explained that Sherwin Williams was chosen to be the best paint store because it offers outstanding products and services, treats every customer as a guest, and builds lasting relationships.

“While we sell a wonderful product, we wouldn’t be the ‘best of’ without this great local Sherwin team and customers,” she said.

52 Best of the Lakes Area 2022
Sherwin Williams

Best Jewelry Store

Hedine Jewelry

611 Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-4940

For a little over 100 years, Hedine Jewelry has provided the Alexandria community with dazzling engagement rings, diamonds, precious gems, watch batteries, jewelry and clock repairs, and everything else jewelry related.

The store started in the Travelers building in 1922 and moved to its current location in 1928. It celebrated

its official 100 years of service in May 2022.

Today, Tom Hedine owns and operates Hedine Jewelry. He says the goal and the reason Hedine Jewelry was chosen best jewelry store is that they keep their customers happy and as a whole, keep the community happy.

“We are proud of our reputation for honesty and excellence we have developed over the last one hundred years — four generations of excellence,” its website states.

Best Grocery Store


Fresh Foods

707 3rd Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-3446

In time for its 40-year anniversary, Elden’s Fresh Foods added a Fresh Sushi department.

The grocery supermarket opened in 1982 and employs 150 workers, said co-owner Elliot Christensen.

Christensen thinks the store won Best Grocery Store, “Because our store is very clean, well stocked great employees. Very competitively priced and a big supporter of our community.”

He said they want their customers to know that this is their go-to store in the Alexandria community.

Thank you for voting Cullen’s Best Appliance Store and Best Home Furnishings We will continue to work hard for your business and look forward to serving you for years to come! BEST APPLIANCE STORE & BEST HOME FURNISHINGS # 1 APPLIANCES • FURNITURE ELECTRONICS • WINDOWS • DOORS • SIDING • INSULATION FIREPLACES • MATTRESSES CABINETS • COUNTERTOPS ALEXANDRIAECHO PRESS | ECHOPRESS .COM READERS’ CHOICE WINNER 2022 HOURS Monday-Friday.............8am-6pm Thursday.......................8am-8pm Saturday......................8am-5pm Sunday...........Home with Family ALEXANDRIA 1620 N
320-762-1249 Best of the Lakes Area 2022 53
“People you know, products you trust”

Best Sporting Good Store

Osakis General Store and Guns Galore

204 Central Ave., Osakis 320-859-5159

For the second straight year, Osakis General Store and Guns Galore was voted the best sporting goods store in the Best of the Lakes Area contest.

The reason? Owners Judi and Gregg Anderson say it’s because it’s a full-service sporting goods store, supporting all things hunting, fishing and personal protection.

“We are known for our one-on-one personalized customer service and do our best to make sure everyone who wants that attention, gets it,” the Andersons said. “With over 2,000 firearms in stock, there are a lot to choose from and it really pays to have knowledgeable staff who are willing to help.”

The store even takes special orders and maintains a “wish list” for customers when they want the store to keep an eye out for a hard-to-find firearm or other merchandise.

“We are fortunate to be only one block off of beautiful lake Osakis, which makes our store the perfect spot to pick up some extra tackle, bait or other necessities to get out on the water,” the Andersons added.

It offers beginning handgun and Minnesota permit to carry classes, firearm appraisals, scope mounting and bore sighting, gunsmith services, gun transfers, and hunting and fishing licenses, fishing tackle and fresh bait. It also buys and trades used firearms and it takes guns in on consignment for sellers.

The business began in 1990 and now has 12 employees.

“We are so very thankful for our great team of employees who all work together to make sure customers’ needs are met,” the Andersons noted.

“Not all businesses are as lucky as we are to have enough dedicated employees who like coming to work. Happy employees make happy customers!”

In addition to the “Best of the Lakes Area” award, Gregg and Judi were also honored to receive the Polaris Habitat Stewardship Award from the Douglas County Pheasants Forever Chapter this year for the work supporting many local non-profit sportsmen’s clubs.

“Two awards in one year? It doesn’t get any better than that!” said the Andersons.

The Andersons are also excited to see the rapidly growing interest in trapshooting in area high schools.

“Trap is a lifetime sport that kids can get involved in at an early age and one doesn’t need

to be the fastest or strongest or of a particular gender to be one of the best,” the Andersons said. “As a matter of fact, one of our staff is a trapshooting coach at Alexandria Area High School and Alexandria Technical and Community College. Blaine is a great resource for families with boys and girls looking to get started in the Minnesota High School Trap League.”

Being involved in the firearm industry requires staff to keep up to speed on what’s happening in the gun world. “Several of our staff are members of the Alexandria Gun Club, which offers access to an outdoor shooting range and an indoor winter pistol league. The gun club also offers its annual sightin days in the fall to help hunters get their guns zeroed in and ready for hunting season.”

Best Tire Shop

Tiremaxx Service Center 801 3rd Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-4111

And the winner of the best tire shop in the Best of the Lakes Area contest is…Tiremaxx Service Center.

It offers complete automotive service and repair, including new tires and repair.

Those workers played a key role in winning the Best of the Lakes Area award.

“Our staff is amazing and we all work together to make sure our customers are taken care of timely and affordably,” the shop said.

Best Camper or RV Dealer

Paul’s Small Engine

1510 N. Nokomis St. NE 320-762-5167

Paul’s Small Engine was named Best Camper or RV Dealer, but it also sells trailers and provides sales and service for lawn and garden and power sports equipment.

The business started in 1985 and has 8 employees. It credits its “great sales team and high quality service” for its win.

“We appreciate years of loyal customers supporting our small business,” it said.

The business has been around since 1988 and employs 10 people.

Tiremaxx Service Center is a local, family-owned business that appreciates its loyal customers and employees.

54 Best of the Lakes Area 2022
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OPEN 6 AM - 10 PM, 7 DAYS A WEEK! 320-763-3446 • Corner of 3rd & Nokomis, Alexandria Only store in town that is LOCALLY OWNED & OPERATED Thank You for voting us your #1 Grocery Store since 2016! READERS CHOICE 2017 READERS CHOICE

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