RQ MAGAZINE ~S ~
2021 Best of
BEST OF SRQ LOCAL SRQ READERS SET A RECORD IN THIS 13th ANNUAL BEST OF SRQ LOCAL COMPETITION—coming out in greater numbers than ever to show all the love for their hometown favorites. Over 70,000 votes were placed and dozens of brand new categories made their debut—from Best Etsy Store, Best Fitness Coach and Best Moving Company to Best Place for Family Camping, Best Luxury Apartment Building and Best Pool Contractor. And we’d be remiss if we ignored the giant elephant in the room that caused such an abnormally strange year for us all, especially for local businesses. For that, we added newly relevant categories apropos to the pandemic—including Best Local Curbside and Takeout, Best Online Networking, Best Online Class, Best Organization to Provide COVID-19 Support, Best Virtual Event and the Festival You Can’t Wait to Attend Again. 2021’s Best of SRQ Local feature is thus dedicated to the signiﬁcant time spent at home—quarantining, social distancing, Zooming in our pjs, ordering takeout, remodeling the kitchen, adopting a pet, landscaping the yard, cleaning the rugs and supporting our local community from afar. From our home to yours, we present you the winners of #BOSRQ COMPILED BY ARIEL CHATES, ANDREW FABIAN, OLIVIA LIANG, BRITTANY MATTIE AND JACOB OGLES ART DIRECTION AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN
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THIS PAGE: Justin Banister of O&A Coffee and Supply whips around town in Sarasota Ford’s brand-new Bronco Sport – a socially distanced way to see the sights of Sarasota.
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RESTAURANTS &DINING BEST LOCAL TACO Screaming Goat Taqueria Some people live for the weekend but the true foodies live for Tuesdays, when the menu is tortilla-ly bursting with flavor and spice and everything nice. However you top it, holy guacamole, Sarasota loves tacos. The Taco Tuesday enthusiasts of Sarasota certainly agreed on who was Platinum—SCREAMING GOAT TAQUERIA—followed by Gold POPPO’S TAQUERIA, REYNA’S TAQUEIRA at Silver and SPICE BOYS KITCHEN at Bronze. Though they didn’t taco spot on the top four list, Big Water Fish Market and El Melvin Cocina Mexican salsa’d their way in as Honorable Mentions. -AC Mercy Cortez (on Screaming Goat): The tacos are amazing; the variety and creative flavors are the bomb. The owner is always there, friendly and with a smile. Catherine Lafuente (on Poppo’s): With scratch-made tortillas that are pressed right in front of you, a variety of well-seasoned proteins and an elevated selection of sides, Poppo’s Taqueria is the best restaurant to grab a taco. Lynda St James (on Reyna’s): I was right there when Reyna’s opened and indulged in tacos about once a week. Since then, they have grown and added foods and become an amazing Mexican restaurant. Elsa Unenge (on Spice Boys Kitchen): Just so damn good with the sauces and everything works together! Carlyle Veale (on Big Water Fish Market): Big Waters Fish Tacos are just delicious. They are topped with fresh mahi, key lime coleslaw and a spicy aioli and every bite leaves you wanting more. Rebecca Owen (on El Melvin Cocina Mexican): The avocado fries are a must have. Platinum WinnerScreaming Goat Taqueria / Gold Winner- Poppo’s Taqueria / Silver Winner- Reyna’s Taqueira / Bronze Winner- Spice Boys Kitchen
BEST NEW LOCAL RESTAURANT Siegfried’s Restaurant
It’s tough being the new guy in school, but SIEGFRIED’S RESTAURANT makes it look easy with an authentic German menu and genuine hospitality, placing them at the top of the podium at Platinum. From there, SEABAR MODERN PACIFIC FARE snuck its way into the competition, capturing Gold, even though it only recently opened its doors for business. Talk about good first impressions. Newly rebranded 1592 WOOD FIRED KITCHEN & COCKTAILS proves Mediterranean can be done right here on the Gulf Coast at Silver while G’S SOUTHERN KITCHEN became the local’s new Bronze fave for comfort. Earning too many votes to ignore, Whitney’s LBK, Circo and Thai Seed round out the list as Honorable Mentions. -BM Malena Munford (on Siegfried’s): They make everyone feel like family. The cooking is phenomenal. It’s like having a homecooked meal from childhood—made with love and care. The atmosphere takes you out of your everyday life, and lets you suspend reality for an hour or two (or five; they don’t rush you at Siegfried’s.) Tara Maus (on Siegfried’s): Love this place. From the moment you walk in, it’s like visiting your German Oma’s home. It’s cozy and small and perfect for date night or bringing a group of loved ones. The Biergarten is so fun— drinking a boot of beer is a unique experience. The food is so delicious and authentic, it brings me back to when I would visit Germany. The best part are the owners; they are super kind and want to give you an enjoyable dinner. They even cook your food and pour your beer. No place is like this in Sarasota. You must try. Maya Kirby (on Seabar): I was torn between
two places, but I chose this one. This place is very new, but man is the quality of food very up there. The head chef is also in charge of another nice spot called Tralia. The ambiance of the place is really pleasing and cozy. Nice colors, not too bright,which is nice in the Gulf Gate area. I’m excited to see this place grow. Ashley Bronswick (on 1592 Kitchen): The modus operandi at 1592 is fire. The key feature is that everything is cooked on a wood-fired grill. The menu is handcrafted and well-executed. By creating intuitive culinary dishes with eclectic combinations of flavors, Executive Chef Alexandre Gosselin and Chef de Cuisine Johnny Zaki come together to orchestrate dishes that manipulate the flavors of local fresh ingredients with a fine taste of modernity. SharDay Porter (on G’s Southern Kitchen): This is a hidden gem that I’m so happy popped onto the SRQ scene. From their soul food and their wings to my absolute favorite, the collard green egg rolls, their menu is so tasty. Auda Welch (on Whitney’s): Whitney’s is everything that LBK has been missing for years. The food is delicious, the prices are affordable, the ambiance is beachy yet classy, the cocktails are creative and the staff insanely pleasant. Platinum Winner- Siegfried’s Restaurant / Gold Winner- Seabar Modern Pacific Fare / Silver Winner- 1592 Wood Fired Kitchen & Cocktails / Bronze Winner- G’S Southern Kitchen
BEST LOCAL SUSHI JPAN It looks like no more Mr. Rice Guy. JPAN has taken the sushi lead in Platinum this year, with the still-so-delicious PACIFIC RIM landing in Gold while TSUNAMI SUSHI & HIBACHI rolls in just a whisper away at only six votes behind for Silver. And for the first time, DRUNKEN POET CAFÉ enters the winner’s circle—er, table—in Bronze. Don’t overlook these Honorable Mentions, Bushido Sushi SRQ and Sushi Hana Japanese Restaurant. -OL Charles Kim (on JPAN): Fantastic sushi. I have enjoyed the finest sushi in L.A. and NYC while living in both and have really loved JPAN sushi. The quality is excellent, the creativity is well-done and the service for dine-in and carryout have been great. No one does it better in the area than JPAN! Jacqueline Kelly (on Pacific Rim): Always fresh, absolutely delicious and wonderfully beautiful presentations. Pacific Rim has friendly service, a great atmosphere and is family run. Our favorite spot for special occasions. Janet Linaburg (on Tsunami): Best allaround Sarasota Japanese restaurant and an easy walk from Main Street. Great for taking a special someone. Appetizers and entrees were difficult to choose from, but I love sushi. My choice sushi recommendations are the Ikura and Tuna roll then the creative Spider roll. They also serve plum wine and a selection of sake, priced accordingly. The portions are just right, tasty and shareable. Clean establishment and great value for top quality dining and ambiance. Amy Kohlman (on Drunken Poet): I love Drunken Poet for their atmosphere and friendly service. It’s a great place to go for sushi, especially if you’re dining with friends who aren’t sushi fans. They have a wide range of options to choose from and you can customize your own spice level. A very important factor for my wimpy tongue. Platinum Winner- JPAN / Gold Winner- Pacific Rim / Silver Winner- Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi / Bronze WinnerDrunken Poet Café
BEST LOCAL FRENCH FRIES Patrick’s 1481 We know exercise is good for you, but what about extra fries instead? The crispy, crunchy, salty goodness that comes from the humble spud is what dreams are made of, and these local spots had our mouths watering. PATRICK’S 1481 is no small potato coming
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in at Platinum. SHORE ST. ARMANDS proves to be a favorite, nabbing the Gold spot. In Silver, are the fry guys at HAMLET’S EATERY, and following next, TAMIAMI TAP says bonjour to Bronze. Doing their best to ketchup are Honorable Mentions G’s Southern Kitchen and Alpine Steakhouse. -AC Ellen Stendal (on Patrick’s 1481): Always busy, always friendly, always filled with regulars and tourists. A must visit to Sarasota’s Cheers. Russ Bobbitt (on Shore St. Armands): The fries at Shore are always cooked to the perfect degree of crispiness. They are then seasoned with an excellent combination of salt, spices, and parmesan. They never disappoint. Alexis Kepchar (on Hamlet’s Eatery): I’m not a fan of potatoes but I love these fries. Hand-cut, made like my mom made them. Always hot, and just darned good! Melissa Kok (on Tamiami Tap): Skinny fries like McDonalds only seasoned to perfection. You can’t stop eating them. Jamie Molina(on G’s Southern Kitchen): G’s has the best homemade dipping sauce. Their “greedy” sauce is SO GOOD. I appreciate their fries because I can always taste while eating (I know this sounds cheesy) that they’re homemade and made with love and care. Platinum Winner- Patrick’s 1481 / Gold Winner- Shore St. Armands / Silver Winners- Hamlet’s Eatery / Bronze WinnerTamiami Tap
BEST LOCAL BARBECUE Brick’s Smoked Meats Often imitated but never duplicated, true barbeque is its own artform. Requiring long laborious hours over a hot fire and a near obsession with perfection, only a few can turn BBQ into the fall-apart, melt-in-your mouth goodness we’ve all come to associate with everyone’s favorite three letter food. BRICK’S SMOKED MEATS had everyone fired up at Platinum. For Gold, MOUTHOLE BBQ is thrilled and grilled while NANCY’S BAR-B-Q does a saucy job as our readers’ Silver winner. STOTTLEMYER’S sets the Bronze spot on fire. Honorable Mentions Smokin’ Momma Lora’s BBQ, Mission BBQ and Perry’s Original Roadside BBQ sizzle just off the grill this year. -AC Malena Munford (on Brick’s): Their BBQ sauces are to-die-for and their portions are just enough. The quality of their smoked and slow cooked meats are what makes each bite amazing and memorable. Jen Warn (on Mouthole BBQ): This electric couple has a true passion for the barbecue craft. Creative dishes and spot on flavors keep the crowds hunting them down for an unforgettable plate of deliciousness. Sally Hodgson (on Nancy’s): Nancy’s is an institution in the Sarasota area, well-known for its smoky ribs, chipotle BBQ sauce and pulled pork. Jaeda Blank (on Stottlemyer’s): Hidden gem of Sarasota tucked back on Fruitville Rd. My husband and I ride our Harley there on the weekends. Staff is super friendly and the food is amazing. Try their smoked chicken, amazing. They also have live entertainment and are dog friendly. Bill Ives (on Smokin’ Momma): Lora’s BBQ has passion, and personality. The food she provides has some of the best quality ingredients, and done just right. Stephanie Hanson (on Perry’s): Portion size and taste are always on point. From the minute you smell the bbq truck you know it’s gonna be good. It’s always our first stop at the Philippi Market. Platinum Winner- Brick’s Smoked Meats / Gold Winner- Mouthole BBQ / Silver Winner- Nancy’s Bar-B-Q / Bronze Winner- Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse.
BEST LOCAL BRUNCH / BREAKFAST Station 400
THIS PAGE: Ordering in took on a whole new meaning when you couldn’t order out – Siegfied’s, Duval’s, Geckos, Columbia, Screaming Goat, Bricks BBQ, JPAN, Calusa, The Sand Witch Shoppe, Solarzanos Pizza, O&A Coffee and Honeyside Farm kept our bellies full when restaurants emptied out.
Ah brunch. We’d be muffin without you. So it’s a good thing our reigning champion STATION 400 ain’t going anywhere with their specialty mimosas and pancake parlour. But some
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new players have strolled onto the scene as well, with THE ORIGINAL EGG making their first appearance in Gold, while SUN GARDEN CAFÉ, a dependable voter favorite, secures
With birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations taking place in kitchens and living rooms this year, an over-thetop cake proved to be a much-needed serotonin boost. Cakes by Ron changed crappy to crafty and decorated a symbolic 2020 < 2021 themed cake to put the icing on this bizarro year.
Silver. And rising up from the Honorable Mentions to a Bronze place victory, BOCA SARASOTA with their bold Good Morning Grilled Gulf Oysters has earned some serious Sunday morning praise. And then there’s always Eggstraordinary Cafe or Mademoiselle Paris French Restaurant—this year’s Honorable Mentions for every other morning of the week. -OL Candace Swann (on Station 400): My boyfriend and I always choose Station 400 when we want breakfast food. We are always greeted by friendly staff, plus their pancakes, Eggs Benedict and mimosas are to-die-for. Their prices are super reasonable. Leeann Putney (on The Original Egg): A local treasure. Owner Dawn makes everyone feel like family. She goes out of her way to hire and then mentor highly-motivated young students and supports local schools and charities by hosting fundraisers. She provides a venue for local artists and Oak Park School students to display their colorful, handcrafted art for purchase on the restaurant walls. Delicious, flavorful food, large portions at fair prices, and super-friendly staff with indoor and outdoor (pet-friendly) dining available. Specialties include colossal pancakes and many styles of Eggs
Benedict (with amazing hollandaise!) Tiffany Davidson (on Sun Garden Café): Sun Garden Café is consistent, the staff is amazing, the food is clean, the portions are hearty and the atmosphere is unique and relaxed. I can’t ever decide between the Shrimp Po Boy or Biscuits and Gravy, so I get both! Malena Munford (on Boca): Boca has an amazing brunch menu item called the Mission Grilled Cheese. It’s three different cheeses, none of which you’d ever think to put in with grilled cheese, caramelized onions and green tomatoes. Pair with a mimosa that has their freshly squeezed orange juice and a side of their sweet potato chips. You’ll never want to leave. Platinum Winner- Station 400 / Gold Winner- The Original Egg / Silver Winner- Sun Garden Café / Bronze Winner- Boca Sarasota.
BEST LOCAL BURGER Patrick’s 1481 As the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s why this year’s list of burger finalists features some familiar faces longknown for their beefy behemoths, like PATRICK’S 1481 and SHAKESPEARE’S CRAFT BEER AND GASTRO PUB. KNICK’S TAVERN AND GRILL joins the mix with their bevy of half-pound burgers, while SIEGFRIED’S rounds out the podium. A slow, dramatic, heartfelt applause goes to Gecko’s Grill and Pub, JR’s Old Packinghouse, Baker & Wife and Mouthhole BBQ for Honorable Mention wins. -AF Oli Georges (on Shakespeare’s): Get [your burger] with sautéed spinach and onion for sure. Malena Munford (on Knick’s): Their Chipotle Bleu Cheeseburger is what dreams are truly made of. The tang of the chipotle balanced by the bleu cheese, and the umami of the beef *chefs kiss*. Arvid Harnqvist (on Siegfried’s): Their German burger every Thursday is out of this world. German pretzel bun, red cabbage slaw, German pickle and remoulade. All homemade and fresh. Only Thursdays. We come almost every week for it. We are addicted. Platinum Winner- Patrick’s 1483 / Gold WinnerShakespeare’s Craft Beer and Gastro Pub/ Silver Winner- Knick’s Tavern and Grill / Bronze Winner- Siegfried’s Restaurant
BEST LOCAL CURBSIDE / TAKE OUT DUVAL’S Ready, set, to-go. DUVAL’S FRESH. LOCAL. SEAFOOD picked up the top spot for takeaway with Platinum while CAFE BARBOSSO made the call for Gold. SIMON’S COFFEE HOUSE is ready and waiting for pick-up in Silver and SPICE BOY’S KITCHEN sent our readers home with dinner in Bronze. Honorable Mention is Gecko’s Grill and Pub -AC Michelle Abrams (on Duval’s): The Po’Boy and fries are as fresh and tasty when they make it to my house as they are when I dine in the restaurant. Jennifer Baron (on Cafe Barbosso): An outstanding restaurant in every way. Dining in is always an amazing experience from the incredible food that Chef Joe Jr. cooks up to the beautiful artwork being painted as you eat. Cafe Barbosso stood out [for us] as the top of the top for curbside takeout during Covid. They offered amazing, fresh and affordable family meals, practiced an incredible amount of best practice sanitation, were very well-organized and always had a smile. I could not love a restaurant more. Dora C Evans (on Simon’s): Simon’s has a whole area designated for takeout. They have diverse deli options, including vegan, raw, glutenfree, sweet and savory. Their veggie burgers are delicious and their sweets are amazing. They have friendly service and delicious food. Amanda’s vegan desserts are beyond delightful. I always stop in to grab something on my way home from work. Lisa Barzel (on Spice Boys ): Spice Boys food is bursting with flavor, creativity and energy, which reflects the personalities
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the steak. Their wait staff is top notch. The old adage, you get what you pay for is paramount at the Summer House. Highly recommended. Michael DiTaranto (on Element): Hand cut, personally selected from the executive chef. Oli Georges (on Antoine’s): The one cooked in a puff pastry. OMG, beef Wellington style. Platinum Winner- Michael’s On East / Gold Winner- Alpine Steakhouse / Silver Winner- Chaz 51 Steakhouse / Bronze Winner- Summer House Steak and Seafood.
BEST LOCAL PIZZA Solorzanos Bros Webber With so many Northerners transplanting to sunny Sarasota, the voting was competitive and frenetic, letting us know that our readers care deeply about finding great pizza. Thousands had something to say about which is their favorite, who’s the best and were to find the quality that makes a slice so divine. SOLORZANOS BROS WEBBER proved to have a loyal customer base for traditional Jersey pizza, earning Platinum, as did family restaurant SOLORZANOS LATE NIGHT PIZZERIA GULF GATE/SIESTA placing in Gold. ORIGIN CRAFT BEER AND PIZZA CAFE heated up the competition with late-night varieties for Silver and RICO’S PIZZERIA pleased the fanatics in Bronze. Demetrio’s Restaurant and Pizza, Cafe Epicure, Napule and Polpo Pizza rolled out enough name-drops for Honorable Mention wins. -BM
the owner/chefs, Carl and Steven. Although you will recognize the names of most of the dishes, their take on them is always unique and multilayered. They are great to work with also. We had them cater a party and they were responsive to my communications and requests as we set it up; then they wowed our guests. Platinum Winner-Duval’s Fresh. Local. Seafood. / Gold Winner- Cafe Barbosso / Silver Winner- Simon’s Coffee House / Bronze Winner- Spice Boys Kitchen
BEST LOCAL STEAK Michael’s On East
Claudia Baeza of Pineapple Yoga Studio tests her balancing skills – holding up the awardwinning pretzel and bratwurst from Siegfried’s Restaurant and German Biergarten.
A special occasion type of meal, eating a plate of steak can be a moo-ving experience, and it takes a skilled chef to cook it to perfection. Rare, medium or welldone, everyone has a favorite and these restaurants are cooking up some of the best in the area. MICHAEL’S ON EAST keeps raising the steaks by coming in at Platinum with an impressive lead. ALPINE STEAKHOUSE has seared its way into a Gold standing, while CHAZ 51 STEAKHOUSE is well-done at Silver. Make no mis-steak though SUMMER HOUSE STEAK AND SEAFOOD is a real contender in Bronze. Hoping to move up next year are Honorable Mentions, Element: Steak. Seafood. Pasta. and Antoine’s Restaurant. -AC Alan Oppenheim (on Michael’s On East): I was in the meat biz and know steak, Michael’s beats all the other steakhouses hands down. Fraser Hunter (on Alpine): Alpine Steakhouse has the best steaks I’ve had in Sarasota because the chef knows exactly how each different cut should be prepared for optimal taste and tenderness, and the staff is able to explain it. You also get to choose the cut you want, all from a beautiful selection of prime beef. Dining there is one tasty treat. Vivian Robinson (on Chaz 51): Steakhouse Steak was juicy, price is great, service is wonderful. Lee Tooker (on Summer House): I have had a lot of steak in my life but the chefs at Summer House are top notch. Their 40-day, dry-aged steaks melt in your mouth. They always offer great side items to accompany
Jaeda Blank (on Solorzanos Bros Webber): Best pizza in Florida. I’ve lived here three years now. We are pizza lovers and haven’t found a pizza place that beats Solorzanos. Pizza always comes out hot and tastes great. Their garlic knots are spot on as well. Rosemary Masillo (on Solorzanos Gulf Gate-Siesta): They are the best Jersey pizza you can find anywhere. Best variety. Awesome staff. Awesome atmosphere. Nobody makes pizza like they do. Melissa Kok (on Origin): Best pizza with a ton of variety to fit my family’s needs. Jakob Hart (on Rico’s): Mark Riley has owned and operated Rico’s Pizzeria in Gulf Gate for decades. He is so passionate about his company. He uses the best available ingredients, and he employees so many people for a small restaurant. I think Mark’s contribution to Sarasota is easily overlooked, but his small restaurant is amazing. Platinum Winner- Solorzanos Bros Webber / Gold Winner- Solorzanos Late Night Pizzeria Gulf Gate-Siesta / Silver Winner- Origin Craft Beer and Pizza Café / Bronze Winner- Rico’s Pizzeria.
BEST LOCAL THAI FOOD Bangkok Restaurant
A gluten-free dream, Thai food is overflowing with oodles of rice noodles. A little lighter and healthier than some of the other noodles out there, Thai food is full of fresh, bright and tangy ingredients like mint, basil and cilantro that hit all the right notes. And if your pasta dish is heaped with a mountain of fresh greens, it’s basically a salad, right? Here to satay all day is BANGKOK RESTAURANT who nabs our top spot, followed by the Thai-riffic SPICE STATION in Gold. Almost sitting at a Thai with minimal votes separating them, ISAN THAI RESTAURANT takes Silver while TASTE OF ASIA comes in at Bronze. Though they didn’t quite pad krapow onto the list this year, readers loved Honorable Mentions Siam Gulf Sarasota and Thai Seed. Curry over to these places for your next bite of Pad Thai. -AC Lou Ann Linn (on Bangkok): Their Pad Thai is simply the best hands-down in Sarasota. They also have amazing Crab Rangoons that you have to have. Lynne (on Spice Station): I’ve been there many times and it’s always fantastic. Lucy knows us by name and our meals are consistently delicious. During COVID we did take-out so we didn’t miss our favorite meals.
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BEST LOCAL HOMEMADE PASTA Caragiulos It’s official—your future is full of pastabilities. Call in to CARAGIULOS ITALIAN AMERICAN, the Platinum champion, to discover their daily pasta specials, or pull into Gold place winner NAPULÉ’S for fettuccine, lasagna, gnocchi—you name it. As for PAZZO, our Silver victor, it’s all about the sauce: parmesan cream, red or white clam sauce, a vodka sauce that’ll warm your cockles. The category was then rounded out by Bronze winner MEDITERRANEO on Main Street, serving their pastas all day long for whenever you need that comfort food fix. Also make sure to check out this year’s Honorable Mentions, Valentino Pizzeria Trattoria and Cafe Epicure. -OL Bob Kirscher (on Caragiulo’s): A Sarasota downtown icon with great food and excellent service operated by a family of professionals. Scott Perron (on Napulé): My wife and I love this place. The ambiance is casual, clean and inviting but most of all, the food is creative and delicious with top-notch service. We have brought dozens of people to Napulé and purchased several gift cards to give to clients, friends and family. Hugh Morrow (on Pazzo Southside): The owner, Judy, meets you at the door, gives you a very warm, sincere welcome and you are treated as if you are part of the family. The servers are all excellent, Marcus, Jay, Anthony and Mel. Chef William in the kitchen is a 5-star chef who always brings you a smile and a warm wave. By far our favorite all-time restaurant. Lauren Hayes (on Mediterraneo): Food and atmosphere of Mediterraneo is always amazing but the homemade pasta is absolutely the best. The flavor and texture is light and delicious. The gnocchi is a personal favorite. Platinum Winner- Caragiulos Italian American / Gold WinnerNapulé / Silver Winner- Pazzo’s Southside / Bronze- Mediterraneo.
BEST LOCAL SALAD Columbia Restaurant Sometimes you just need that crunch, that plate of greens where the fixin’s and dressings make all the difference. And let’s face it, salads always taste better when they’re created for you and perfectly tossed. The people have spoken and Platinum winner COLUMBIA RESTAURANT seems to be the place to go when that salad craving demands satisfaction, followed by the ever-fresh Gold SIMON’S COFFEE HOUSE. BOCA SARASOTA nabs Silver with ELEMENT: STEAK. SEAFOOD. PASTA. close behind with the Bronze. Romaine calm and try them each, one by one, including our Honorable Mentions Maximilian’s Cafe and Alpine Steakhouse.-OL
The outside dining is so comfortable, six feet apart and standing heaters on chilly nights. It’s a beautiful restaurant inside with the best food ever. Jason Page (on Isan Thai): The Pad Kaprow (Thai style with ground pork and fried egg) is amazing. Shayna Teicher (on Taste of Asia): Consistently fantastic, super fresh, fairly priced, generous portions and maybe the best Thai I’ve had in many states. Jennifer Callender (on Siam Gulf): Great small, family-run restaurant. Delicious every single time. Karen Campbell (on Thai Seed): My family enjoyed fresh, hot and flavorful food from Thai Seed both as carry out and inperson during this unprecedented year. It brought back some amazing memories from our travels through Thailand prior to this pandemic. The owners are very friendly and helpful and the food is authentic. Platinum Winner- Bangkok Restaurant / Gold Winner- Spice Station / Silver Winner- Isan Thai Restaurant / Bronze Winner- Taste of Asia .
Streaming records were set everywhere this year as dinner and a movie became a nightly spectacular. Patrick’s 1481 burgers show what might have happened to us if we were stuck inside another year. Not mad about the daily Snuggie attire though.
Abbie Wonnell (on Columbia): What is there not to love about Columbia’s Original “1905” Salad? This salad is not your bland and boring house salad. It is jam packed with hearty meats, cheese and vegetables and is tossed in the best garlic dressing. Having lunch at Columbia on St. Armands Circle and enjoying this salad while sitting in the open style restaurant is basically the perfect way to spend your afternoon. Maya Kirby (on Simon’s Coffee House): I must recommend them for their salads. It’s hard to top the creativity that comes out of the kitchen and Simon himself. I love how fresh all the ingredients are and how big the portions are too. Stephanie Winter (on Boca): Boca’s fresh and unique mix of ingredients turns a gratuitous appetizer into an unexpectedly delightful dish. It’s the difference between “salad” and “SALAD.” I like how their menu is always changing to incorporate fresh and local ingredients. Joseph Dzialo (on Element): Element’s Chopped Caesar Salad is outstanding. The addition of avocado gives the salad a unique creamy, fresh taste. It’s unlike any other Caesar salad. Platinum Winner- Columbia Restaurant / Gold Winner- Simon’s Coffee House / Silver WinnerBoca Sarasota / Bronze Winner- Element. Steak. Seafood. Pasta.
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BEST OYSTERS Siesta Key Oyster Bar
Who’s at your door? Delivery! Honeyside Farm’s produce boxes stock the pantry with locally-grown goods, while a chef-curated dish from Duval’s, some carryout booze and fresh-baked cookies from The Sand Witch Shoppe arrive with all the fixings for an ideal meal on the couch.
While we’ve all mastered the art of home cooking by now— some better than others—oysters might be one of those delicacies that’s worth a restaurant tab. So whether you’re an oyster enthusiast from way back or have simply always been intrigued by those plump, briny morsels, hit these four local oyster favorites. SIESTA KEY OYSTER BAR shucked their way into Platinum place this year with VERONICA FISH AND OYSTER just a dozen or so votes behind for Gold. But don’t for a second think they left the other winners far in their wake because MONK’S trails by a scant margin, landing them in Silver. OWEN’S FISH CAMP follows in Bronze with the razor thin margin—a single vote shy. In the end, it looks like there’s no wrong choice for where to oyster it up tonight, including our Honorable Mentions, Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar and Anna Maria Oyster Bar Landside. -OL Donna Emley (on Siesta Key Oyster Bar): Their oysters are always fresh, always delicious and always arrive quickly— sometimes even before your drink does. The beachy atmosphere, live music and great staff only add to the total overall best oyster experience on Siesta Key. Mike Powell (on Veronica Fish and Oyster): We live within several blocks of Veronica’s, so we find ourselves walking there fairly often for wine and oysters (and we sometimes stay for dinner too). The staff is warm, friendly and welcoming, they remember us each time we return and have become friends.The oysters are cold, fresh and always different depending on what type they are serving that week, which makes it fun to try different oysters each visit. The staff in charge of shucking the oysters are some of the best we’ve ever had. They do a very clean and precise
job preparing the oysters and we’ve never had a piece of shell. They also have homemade vinegars to pair with the oysters which are delicious. The whole environment and experience is fantastic. Bonita Clarke (on Monk’s): Their Oysters Monkafeller are out of this world delicious and the service is always top notch. Marc Epstein (on Owen’s Fish Camp): From the moment you get to Owen’s you feel you have stepped into a different time. The oysters just seal the deal on a wonderful evening in their backyard environment. You can’t lose in choosing cold ones on ice or grilled ones with jalapeno butter. Owen’s Fish Camp never disappoints. Platinum Winner- Siesta Key Oyster Bar / Gold Winner- Veronica Fish and Oyster / Silver Winner- Monk’s / Bronze Winner- Owen’s Fish Camp.
BEST ROMANTIC DINNER Indigenous Restaurant
Romance has been challenged like never before during the past year, when nights painting the town have declined to just another night on the couch. But for the truly special evening after months of ordering in or microwaving leftovers, these four spots are your wingmen for evenings of romance. Last year’s top winners switched places, with INDIGENOUS RESTAURANT securing Platinum and OPHELIA’S ON THE BAY coming in with the Gold. Close behind, SIEGFRIED’S RESTAURANT & BIERGARTEN enters the Silver realm with their intimate backyard patio and MICHAEL’S ON EAST takes the Bronze place victory. The competition was fierce this year as romance is obviously in the air, so our Honorable Mention winners deserve some praise too: Euphemia Haye, Bijou Café, Element: Steak. Seafood. Pasta., Summer House Steak and Seafood, Veronica Fish and Oyster and Marcello’s. -OL
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at the end of the meal. A friend had brought C’est la Vie’s ParisBrest for dessert one night and I immediately fell in love; the pastry and the chestnut creme was so memorable. Everything is made fresh and there is such an assortment of different French desserts to try, that I daydream I’m in a Paris cafe. Plus they have a fantastic lunch and dinner menu too. Elizza Crews: (on Abel’s Ice Cream): All around awesome because of the friendly staff and family atmosphere where all, young and old, are welcome. My family and I are summer tourists to Siesta Key for about six years now and Abel’s is our anchorage away from home. Part of our trip planning is knowing that we will head every night of our week-long stay for dessert at Abel’s. Erin Papke: (on Kurtos Chimney Cake): A flavor like I’ve never had before. There’s nothing like this around. Kurtos is one-of- a-kind. Frank Strelec: (on Michael’s On East): The Michael’s on East Chocolate Blackout Cake is simply the best chocolate cake ever—layers of moist dark chocolate custard cake covered with delicious icing, and topped with a dark chocolate swizzle! Platinum Winner- Cakes by Ron / Gold Winner- Euphemia Haye / Silver Winner- C’est La Vie / Bronze Winner- Abel’s Ice Cream. ABOVE:
CROP Juice winner kept us nutritiouslyengaged and energized when we lived in sweats and slippers, and tired of refrigeratordispensed water.
Lee-En Chung (on Ophelia’s): Magical and romantic, at Ophelia’s on the Bay I feel special every time. Louise Hauser (on Siegfried’s): Siegfried’s brings back wonderful memories of German dishes at my in-laws’ house, so my husband and I celebrated our 50th anniversary there recently. The food is authentic and delicious, the service is warm and friendly, and we’re always greeted so happily by the owners, Rene and Kim. Denise and Perry Jacobs (on Michael’s on East): Michael’s is a beautifully appointed restaurant. The food is always outstanding and the service is exceptional. Whenever we want to enjoy a special meal with each other, family, or friends, Michael’s is our go-to restaurant. Platinum Winner- Indigenous Restaurant / Gold Winner- Ophelia’s On the Bay / Silver Winner- Siegfried’s Restaurant and Biergarten / Bronze Winner- Michael’s On East.
BEST LOCAL DESSERT Cakes by Ron Legend says to eat dessert first, and if you follow these rules, four local spots should be on your list. Baked goods, sweet treats, cold confections—we don’t discriminate when it comes to the finest offerings for sugary sweetness. CAKES BY RON is clearly bakin’ our readers crazy landing in Platinum. EUPHEMIA HAYE sprinkled their way to Gold and C’EST LA VIE was treated to Silver. Putting the icing on the cake, ABEL’S ICE CREAM takes the Bronze spot for Best Dessert. Our readers also loved the goodies at Honorable Mentions, Kurtos Chimney Cake, Michael’s on East and American Honey Creamery. -AC Jeni Appleby (on Cakes by Ron): They made my daughter’s wedding cake ideas come to life, and it was sooooo delicious. Melba Jimenez (on Euphemia Haye): Excellent variety, flavors and ambience. Decadent. Sarah Lansky (on C’est La Vie): Dessert has always been a treat, something to look forward to
BEST FOOD TRUCK Spice Boys Kitchen The results for SRQ’s best food trucks are rolling in and the competition was hot, hot, hot. SPICE BOYS KITCHEN rides high at Platinum once again with their Isreali-Mediterranean cuisine, while their trailing competition are all new finalists and ready to rumble. AMISH BAKING COMPANY with their sweet and savory treats comes in at Gold with HAMLET’S EATERY snagging Silver. MOUTHOLE BBQ is also on fire, capturing the Bronze. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Polpo Pizza Company, Smokin’ Momma Lora’s BBQ Mobile and Fire Tacos, parking them as Honorable Mentions. -OL Lauren Ditaranto (on Spice Boys): Continuously pushing fusion culinary boundaries. Who knew so much spice would taste so good? LeeAnne Swor (on Amish Baking ): The best donuts & pretzels on the planet. Hot, soft, yummy. Sadie, the owner is adorable and so sweet. Deana Hawley (on Hamlet’s Eatery): “To Meat Or Not To Meat” is the question you must answer when you visit Hamlet’s Eatery, located in the outdoor courtyard of The Bazaar at Apricot & Lime. Chef Brad and his team have created an eclectic selection of vegan and traditional menu items that are certain to tantalize every palate. I never knew vegan food could taste so good, and by the way, you have to try the fries, just sayin’. Clint Justesen (on Hamlet’s Eatery): A hidden gem in the courtyard of The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime. Everything is made fresh and they have traditional and vegan options. The hand cut fries and crab cakes are amazing. Jen Warn (on Mouthole): This electric couple has a true passion for the art of barbecue. Creative dishes and spot-on flavors keep the crowds hunting them down for a plate of perfection. Platinum Winner- Spice Boys Kitchen / Gold Winner- Amish Baking Company / Silver WinnerHamlet’s Eatery/ Bronze Winner- Mouthole BBQ.
BEST LOCAL SANDWICH
Sandwiches, sammies, subs, hoagies, grinders, wedges— regardless of what they’re called, they’re one of our favorite art forms, and our hometown has risen to the challenge. With an impressive victory, the sandwich lovers seem to be congregating downtown at Platinum winner SOUTHSIDE DELI with its pickup, drive-thru and delivery options. MAIN BAR SANDWICH
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in Gold is the bustling lunch spot, while Silver winner ANNA’S DELI trails by only a handful of votes down by the beach. Bronze winner SIMON’S COFFEE HOUSE rounds out the category, an emerging favorite across many of this year’s Best Of categories. The competition was tough, so try them all and let us know what you think, including these Honorable Mentions: Spice Boys Kitchen, Mouthole BBQ, Kurtos Chimney Cake, South Philly Cheesesteaks and Duval’s Fresh. Local. Seafood. -OL Karl Kuhn (on Southside Deli): All of my co-workers love it. We have someone in the office that regularly goes for many people and says, “No one wants to change their normal sandwich. Everyone sticks with what they originally ordered.” I believe that is called addiction. Bill Mies (on Main Bar Sandwich Shop): You know the Main Bar Sandwich Shop is good the minute you step in the door. It fills up quickly with lawyers, average regulars, police personnel, judges and those in-the-know. I’ve been going there since I moved to Sarasota. The reason they are good is that their ingredients are at their prime. They have seven homemade soups daily and a vast
Judy Alexander of The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, the recipient of numerous category awards, is the Queen’s Gambit of quirky and eclectic shopping. Check and mate.
array of sandwiches for all tastes. Only offering lunch, their wait staff is quick and efficient. Gina Caro (on Anna’s Deli): I love Anna’s sandwiches. I always pick up a Surfer Sandwich on my way to the beach. They bring in locally-baked, fresh bread daily, and the way they slice the meat thin brings out all the flavors. Pair that with Anna’s special sauce (the ideal mayo-mustard ratio), and you’ve got Sarasota’s most perfect sandwich. Glad they are getting the recognition they deserve. Maya Kirby (on Simon’s): If you haven’t had any of the paninis from Simon’s Coffee House, you should change that. I always recommend the special panini or the London. Platinum WinnerSouthside Deli / Gold Winner- Main Bar Sandwich Shop / Silver Winner- Anna’s Deli / Bronze Winner- Simon’s Coffee House.
BEST LOCAL CHICKEN WINGS Origin Craft Beer and Pizza Café
Everyone’s wild about wings, and our readers weren’t too chicken to tell us all about their favorites this year. Customizable with rubs, marinades and dipping sauces, they’re a perfect mix and match and always hit the spot. ORIGIN CRAFT BEER AND PIZZA CAFE uses their stellar wings to fly into Platinum. SPICE BOYS KITCHEN is close behind, ruffling the right feathers to slide into Gold. G’S SOUTHERN KITCHEN lands Silver and GECKO’S GRILL AND PUB fries into Bronze. -AC Maya Kirby (on Origin): Some of the best wings in town. Another locally-owned gem, the owner and his employees are really good people. Solid little spot. Florence Schmitt (on Spice Boys): That white BBQ sauce! Ursula Nixon (on G’s Southern Kitchen): The absolute best, lip-smacking, crunchy goodness, flavor-packed, “go to sleep and dream about” wings in Sarasota and possibly the USA. Platinum Winner- Origin Craft Beer and Pizza Café / Gold Winner- Spice Boys Kitchen / Silver Winner- G’s Southern Kitchen / Bronze- Gecko’s Grill and Pub.
BEST OUTDOOR DINING Shore St. Armands+LBK We Floridians love outside dining, but these spots gave us a breath of fresh air during COVID restrictions. It may just be the wind talking, but the food tastes better with a gust of ocean air ruffling your hair while chowing down at sunset. With a substantial lead, both SHORE ST. ARMANDS AND LONGBOAT KEY locations were the top spot to eat al fresco coming in at Platinum. O’LEARY’S TIKI BAR AND GRILL is a breeze in Gold, while SIEGRIED’S RESTAURANT AND GERMAN BIERGARTEN added some international flair to eating in the open-air Silver. In Bronze, DRY DOCK WATERFRONT GRILL lets you enjoy ocean views without getting wet. Other places to feel the Gulf breeze while sipping a cocktail? Honorable Mentions , Beach House Restaurant and Cafe Epicure.-AC Maria Frost (on Shore St.Armands and LBK): Everything from the vibe, the service, the drinks to the food. Shore is an excellent choice for lunch or dinner. When you finish up your meal, you can shop in the store attached. The view at the Longboat Key location is my favorite. You can’t beat it. Amy Kinker (on O’Leary’s): The fish tacos and wraps are the best in the city. There’s music, a beautiful downtown water view and the best bartenders in Sarasota. Jan Eric Hein (on Siegfried’s): The beer garden is wonderful. The taste of these German beers beats everything. This atmosphere will always be in my mind. Lou Ann Linn (on Dry Dock): The best Lobster Tacos in town with an amazing view. What else could you ask for? Catherine Lafuente (on Beach House): What’s more perfect than dining on the beach? The answer: dining on the beach at the Beach House Restaurant. The view of the Gulf from the sand is the
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it’s just the most fun shopping experience in town, period. Sharon Kunkel (on The Bazaar): The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime is a wonderful addition to Sarasota’s arts, shopping and live entertainment scene. There is a diverse range of items available—from jewelry, clothing, and collectibles to home decor, plants and locally produced honey. It’s fun to chat with the various artists and vendors. The outdoor courtyard is especially enjoyable on the weekends—with live music and the food truck—and now you can even enjoy comedy and the theater there, too. Sarah Zanoni (on Molly’s): Great staff and owners who deliver a great collection of unique gifts and treasures. Emily Chapin-Clark (on Modern Soul): The owner, Holly, has such a gift of finding pieces that her customers love and feel comfortable wearing. I feel like I’m getting a personalized shopping experience. Holly and her staff always help me find the perfect piece to wear, and I receive so many compliments. Bonnie Skowronski (on Modern Soul): Modern Soul not only has warm, friendly and helpful employees, but it offers shoppers up-to-date clothing at affordable prices. It is a smaller boutique, so you do not feel “lost” looking for clothing like in big department stores. Yet, the selection is plentiful and modern. Cody Johnson (on Fixxation): Beautiful store full of talent. The owner makes a lot of her inventory and always keeps up with the latest trends while creating her own style. 10/10 recommend. Platinum Winner- The Bazaar at Apricot and Lime / Gold Winner- Modern Soul / Silver Winner- Molly’s Chic and Unique Boutique / Bronze Winner: L Boutique.
BEST RESALE CONSIGNMENT STORE Scavengers Marketplace SRQ best in the area. Plus the drinks are excellent, and the food is fresh and often local. Service is A+ too. Platinum Winner- Shore St. Armands and LBK / Gold Winner- O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill / Silver Winner- Siegfried’s Restaurant and German Biergarten / Bronze Winner- Dry Dock Waterfront Grill.
SHOPPING &RETAIL BEST LOCAL BOUTIQUE
The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime SRQ shoppers continue to flock to the voting polls to vouch for their favorite boutiques for retail therapy. This year, THE BAZAAR ON APRICOT & LIME enters into the competition and takes Platinum. MODERN SOUL dresses to impress in Gold. MOLLY’S-A CHIC AND UNIQUE BOUTIQUE gives them a run for their money in Silver heels as does longtime winner L.BOUTIQUE in Bronze. Honorable Mentions go to new-kidson-the-block Fixxation, Canned Ham Vintage, Marmalade and Bon Bon Vintage. -BM Scotty Ray Clark (on The Bazaar): Supporting artisans is crucial to keeping a community vibrant. And any establishment like The Bazaar that keeps “Generica” (Generic America) at bay will always get my vote. Elise Ramer (on The Bazaar): There is something so special about The Bazaar. There is an excitement every time you visit, whether it is a fun-themed day or just a plethora of new art and goods on display, I am always amazed at how many smiles greet you at every turn. The warmth and true spirit of artisan entrepreneurship are alive and well at The Bazaar. Simply,
Zoom knocked the ‘D’ out of Doomsday and gave us all a chance to ‘hang out’ virtually this year. Everything from weddings, meetings, class and even funerals went online this year. Screen grabbed and pictured here: a collective Zoom call with students and teachers from Children First nonprofit, as well as adopted pets and volunteers from Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue.
Treasure hunters who seek out the most eclectic assortment of items for resale should check out SCAVENGERS MARKETPLACE SRQ, which nabbed Platinum this year. THE EXCHANGE INC. promises an array of cool Gold finds, throwbacks and gently-used items, including furniture and home goods, for discounted prices. When you desire some second-hand scores of high-end designer brands, readers recommend saving your dollars for the next outfit with a trip to LAURA JEAN’S in Silver. Bronze winner FIFI’S FINE RESALE APPAREL offers deep savings for thrifty fashionistas, and Honorable Mentions go out to Canned Ham Vintage and Beautiful You Boutique, who also garnered a lot of love. -BM Lorelei Filicetti (on Scavengers): This store has such one-of-akind items. If you can’t find what you are looking for, the owners will try to find it for you. Merchandise changes regularly too. So I stop in often. Ian Stockfish (on Scavengers): I found this ‘gem’ marketplace store a few months ago. Wow. They have beautiful re-furnished furniture at great prices. They also have wonderful antiques that can’t help but take you down memory lane—handcrafted jewelry pieces that are absolutely beautiful. They have a ton of other stuff displayed beautifully, which makes the whole experience fun. You won’t be disappointed, and you might just find a treasure for yourself. Debbie Plotts (on The Exchange): I am so proud to be a volunteer at The Exchange – it is truly a group of men and women who are dedicated to making our community a better place. Carolyn Mason (on The Exchange): Over the many years The Women’s Exchange has been here it has consistently maintained excellent, quality merchandise at excellent prices. Their grants program has helped many, many local arts organizations over the years as well. Eileen O’Fallon (on Laura Jeans): Incredible selection and delightful staff. Platinum Winner- Scavengers Marketplace SRQ / Gold Winner- The Exchange Inc. / Silver Winner- Laura Jean’s / Bronze Winner- Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel.
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BEST LOCAL FLORIST
Beneva Flowers and Plantscapes A picture may be worth a thousand words, but an oft-forgotten contender for that saying is ﬂowers. Arranging them is an art, and it takes a certain eye to combine all the colors and whimsy of the perfect bouquet. These local ﬂorists make some unbe-leaf-table arrangements. We ain’t dandelion, BENEVA FLOWERS AND PLANTSCAPES took the top Platinum spot. In Gold, FLOWERS BY FUDGIE was simply irisistable. TIGER LILY rose to the occasion for Silver while SUE ELLEN’S FLORAL BOUTIQUE proved to be the best bud in Bronze. Though they didn’t plant themself in the top four, Honorable Mention Victoria Blooms blossomed onto our list. -AC LeeAnne Swor (on Beneva): Great ﬂoral arrangements. Creative and always fresh, they last a long time. Rachel Joe Dunne (on Flowers by Fudgie): Becki, their gifted, talented owner and manager, lives and breathes excellence in customer service. Her talented creative team puts together the most beautiful ﬂoral arrangements. Linda Domenico (on Tiger Lily): Extraordinary ﬂowers and service. Laura Zammit(on Sue Ellen): Sue is the most kind human being you will ever meet. Her storefront is kept clean and tidy. The arrangements she creates are one of a kind. I will never use anyone else for my ﬂoral needs. Alyssa
Gay (on Victoria Blooms): Simply put, her work is stunning. She was our wedding ﬂorist almost eight years ago, and whenever I am in need of sending ﬂowers locally, I always call her. Her ﬂoral work is true artistry for every occasion. Platinum Winner- Beneva Flowers and Plantscapes / Gold Winner- Flowers by Fudgie / Silver Winner-Tiger Lily / Bronze Winner- Sue Ellen’s Floral Boutique.
BEST LOCAL JEWELER Milan’s Jewelry Whether you need a new watch battery, a jaw-dropping engagement ring or to salvage your grandmother’s diamonds from a family heirloom necklace, these local jewelers do it with precision and pride. With an aﬃnity for special occasions and even more special gifts, MILAN’S JEWELRY INC locks in the Platinum trinket. DIAMOND VAULT shines year after year for its precious gems and timely repairs to take Gold, while COFFRIN DIAMOND JEWELERS secures Silver. ARMEL JEWELERS sparkles in Bronze and voters appraised June Simmons worthy of Honorable Mention.-BM Ruby Schaﬀer (on Milan’s): Milan worked with my ﬁancé and me to design a truly unique setting for my stones. My ﬁancé had originally purchased the engagement ring in New York and picked the jewels. The ring bent twice within six months, so we decided to take the jewels and go local with the
setting. Milan did a beautiful job and has created lifetime clients. We have since married and had Milan design the accompanying wedding band. Couldn’t be happier with the results. We have had a few other older pieces of jewelry repaired and also restored and are just as happy with how they turned out. We would recommend Milan to anyone that cares about quality workmanship and placing their jewelry in safe hands. Romanus Wolter (on Diamond Vault): Elegant, excellent quality, custom personalized service. Marlene Wurzbach(on Coﬀrin): They are honest. Another local jeweler claimed to have thrown out my necklace’s broken 14k gold clasp when I asked him to ﬁx or replace it. I’ve given Coﬀrin similar jobs, and they have always returned all the leftover parts/pieces for me to keep or sell. Lee-En Chung (on Armel): They are my go-to jeweler for ﬁne jewelry and even repairs. Owner Michael Melnick has extremely high certiﬁcations as a gemologist– his depth of gem knowledge is priceless. Louis Walton (on Armel): A visual delight with an extensive collection of colorful art glass (great gift ideas). The family-owned store has been a mainstay Sarasota jeweler for over 50 years with a knowledgeable, friendly staﬀ and a quality selection of gems, diamonds and jewelry items. Platinum Winner-Milan’s Jewelry Inc. / Gold WinnerDiamond Vault / Silver Winner- Coﬀrin Diamond Jewelers / Bronze Winner- Armel Jewelers.
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BEST LOCAL WEDDING VENUE Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The dress gets a lot of hype, but the venue might be runner-up for the second most important wedding detail. It sets the backdrop for all the photos and creates the ambiance for the most important party of your life. MARIE SELBY BOTANICAL GARDENS says “I do” to Platinum place while SEAGATE POWEL CROSLEY ESTATE walks down the aisle to Gold. THE RINGLING takes a cue from their name and puts a ring on Silver, while PLANTATION GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB hitches themselves to Bronze. Our readers also love Honorable Mention winners Laurel Oak Country Club, Sandbar Restaurant, University Park Country Club and Waterline Marina Resort. -AC Louis Walton (on Marie Selby): Couples who wish to marry in a tropical oasis can make plans to enjoy their wedding in the scenic Selby Botanical Gardens located on a 15-acre site in downtown Sarasota along beautiful Sarasota Bay. The immaculately maintained grounds offer visitors the opportunity to view a variety of unique plants, flowers and trees. A charming indoor space can accommodate your wedding reception. Leigh Hughes (on Laurel Oak): Laurel Oak was the perfect wedding reception venue. The gorgeous views of the golf course, along with a spacious and beautiful banquet room, made it a sure-fire winner.
We had such an amazing reception there with all our family and friends. Platinum Winner- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens / Gold Winner- Seagate Powerl Crosley Estate / Silver Winner- The Ringling / Bronze Winner- Plantation Golf and Country Club.
BEST LOCAL SPECIAL OCCASION CAKES Cakes by Ron CAKES BY RON came in piping hot to the Platinum
spot, winning by several hundred votes. Kneading their way into Gold is PAISANO’S ITALIAN BAKERY while readers got their sweet tooth fix with SUGAR CUBED in Silver. NELLIE’S DELI MARKET AND CATERING whipped their way into Bronze. Readers also want a piece of Petals and Sugar and Wonder Cake Creations, Honorable Mentions this year. -AC Gloria Stancil (on Cakes by Ron): He has made our cakes for two generations. They are not only so beautiful and creative, but delicious too. Ron and his family are so creative and talented. Fraser Hunter (on Paisano’s): Paisano’s makes fabulous cannoli, and they still make some of the old-school Italian specialty items. What a treat it was to find them. Catherine Lafuente (on Sugar Cubed): This wonderful, Black-owned bakery makes delicious confections of all kinds. It’s so nice to have an old-school realm bakery to call on. Publix is great, sure, but Sugar Cubed has a
special personal touch. Laura Lachell (on Petals and Sugar): Leslie is super positive, awesome, creative. She makes delicious treats for special diets such as vegan and gluten-free, and nonspecial diets. Her gluten-free, vegan desserts are the best I have ever tasted. With that said, the special diet treats do not skimp on flavor. Platinum Winner- Cakes by Ron / Gold WinnerPaisano’s Italian Baker / Silver Winner- Sugar Cubed / Bronze Winner- Nellie’s Deli Market and Catering
BEST BRIDAL SHOP
The Perfect Dress of Sarasota Walking down the aisle like the vision they are, THE PERFECT DRESS OF SARASOTA writes Platinum vows. SOMETHING BLUE BRIDAL gives something new for the Gold spot, while TRULY FOREVER BRIDAL SARASOTA makes brides’ dreams come true in Silver. CALVET COUTURE catches the Bronze bouquet and avoids any cake smashing. -BM Maya Kirby (on Perfect Dress): They helped me find my perfect wedding dress. Ask for Sue. She made me feel as if I was with all of my family picking out that dress. She really knew how to calm my nerves and make me feel relaxed. Kerri Plazza (Something Blue): I found my wedding dress there ten years ago, and I still love it to this day. Maryellen Kirkwood (on Calvet Couture): Our daughter-in-law purchased her wedding gown
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LEFT: Ron Soto of Soto’s Optical Boutique is a vision reimagined as a character in WandaVision -– a new Marvel show added to everyone’s quaran-stream, ‘must-watch’ list.
from this shop, so beautiful and perfect. Platinum Winner- The Perfect Dress of Sarasota / Gold WinnerSomething Blue Bridal / Silver Winner- Truly Forever Bridal Sarasota / Bronze Winner- Calvet Couture.
BEST EYEGLASS STORE Soto’s Optical Boutique
Who boasts a winning vision in this contest? Readers clearly see SOTO’S OPTICAL BOUTIQUE as the top Platinum optic service locally. But IOPTICS EYEWEAR comes into focus as Gold just behind it. IN FOCUS FAMILY EYECARE will read just fine that they’ve won Silver and SPECTACLE GALLERY can fit the finest frame for Bronze. -BM Terry McDonald (on Soto’s Optical): Great selection, friendly, non-pressure people. Able to fix glasses properly and help in selecting and fitting glasses to the face they will be on. Piper Yeagley (on iOptics): Great selection of cool glasses! Bethany York (on In Focus): Dr. Brad and Ashley Masuga are great at what they do. Justyna Garden (on Spectacle Gallery): Spectacle Gallery is a beautiful eyeglass store with a wide selection of luxurious brands, modern and stylish glasses and sunglasses. Dr. Doyle and her team are warm, welcoming and super professional. If you’re looking for a pair of glasses, this place should be on your list. Platinum Winner- Soto’s Optical Boutique / Gold WinnerIoptics Eyewear / Silver Winner- In Focus Family Eyecare / Bronze Winner- Spectacle Gallery
BEST MUSEUM GIFT SHOP
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Readers honor the cool gift shops attached to our local institutions. From uniquely local souvenirs to specialty items related to science, nature, wildlife, art and more, we recognize the unseen heroes of retail. MARIE SELBY BOTANICAL GARDENS rings up the Platinum title while THE RINGLING’S arts-inspired collectibles impress shoppers for Gold place. Newkid-on-the-block SARASOTA ART MUSEUM curates a stellar collection of items to grant them Silver, and THE BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE
roundes out this category in Bronze. -BM Marlane Wurzbach (on Selby Gardens): You can buy beautiful, unusual house plants or books on the subject to make your home/refuge cheerier. Lee-En Chung (on The Ringling): Exquisite gifts for my international friends. Platinum Winner- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens / Gold Winner- The Ringling / Silver Winner- Sarasota Art Museum / Bronze Winner- The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
BEST LOCAL ETSY STORE The Resting B Face Boutique
Making shopping from your couch a breeze while connecting the community with the best of Sarasota’s self-made shops, readers love these Local Etsy Stores. Artisan goods got greater with THE
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RESTING B FACE BOUTIQUE nabbing Platinum. Crafting into Gold was GYPSY GARDENER, while CRAFTED BY YUDI was off the arts in Silver. In Bronze, is painted pottery artisan VEGETABOWLS,
while Honorable Mentions go to Suncoast Tie Dye and Florence Schmitt Design. -AC Cody Johnson (on Resting B Face): Candice is a very talented person. She is dedicated to what she does while creating a space for others like her to sell their items as well at local markets she hosts. Christine Schroeder (on Gypsy): Teresa’s art is colorful and alive. Her new line of greeting cards is not the “same old-same old” thing, but very unique and meaningful. She combines art and practical, useful items in a special way. Jodie Sullivan (on Vegetabowls): I have a weakness for Vegetabowls. They’re such cute serveware—adding a festive mood to get-togethers anytime. Each dish I’ve bought has arrived in perfect condition. They are of the highest quality and durability. Fill ’em up with fruits, salads and dips, and it’s a party. Platinum Winner- The Resting B Face Boutique / Gold WinnerGypsy Gardener / Silver Winner- Crafted by Yudi / Bronze Winner- Vegetabowls.
BEST LOCAL RUG STORE Rugs as Art Your foot’s best friend, these local stores have woven their way into the top three and provide the perfect spot to round up your next rug— fit for your home or
a Disney princess to fly on. RUGS AS ART floored our readers with a two hundred-point lead into Platinum. You might find a magic carpet at ART TO WALK ON, our Gold winner, while SHAH ABBAS FINE ORIENTAL RUGS had just the right dimensions for Silver. -AC Platinum Winner- Rugs As Art / Gold Winner- Art to Walk On / Silver Winner- Shah Abbas Fine Oriental Rugs.
FOOD &LIBATIONS BEST LOCAL BREWERY Calusa Brewery Tap the keg – CALUSA BREWERY passes a pint of juicy goodness to fill up on some golden Platinum winnings for multiple years running. BIG TOP BREWERY’S canned varieties and lively courtyard ferment them a Gold place finish while Bradenton’s MOTORWORKS BREWING keeps beer lovers happy with their expansive lawn for cornhole, winning the Silver. JDUBS BREWING COMPANY may have been out of the game most of this last year, but it doesn’t mean their loyal customers have forgotten about them. Naughty Monk Brewing represents for the Ranch and pours a cold one for Honorable Mention. -BM Jason Laureano (on Calusa): This veteran-owned business has awesome beers. Focus is my fave. I am looking forward to returning post-Covid for some food, company and great beer. Tracy Shinkarow (on Calusa): Thrilled to have them in my backyard.
They make top-notch craft beer; whether it’s an IPA, Stout, Sour or Lager, nobody beats Calusa. Lauren Ditaranto (on Big Top): They treat you like family every time you go. Cynthia Tompkins (on Motorworks): There are lots of breweries with good-tasting beers, but Motorworks is exceptional. Their fun events and their bands and movies and fun games make it a real experience. Going there at night, outside, under the twinkly lights, is something to behold. Platinum Winner- Calusa Brewery / Gold Winner- Big Top Brewery / Silver Winner- Motorworks Brewing / Bronze Winner- JDubs Brewing Company.
BEST LOCAL COCKTAIL State Street Eating House
Dive into the liquid culture that Sarasota-Bradenton has collectively crafted, and check out the movers and shakers doing it best. Top-shelf contender and multi-winner STATE STREET EATING HOUSE is noted for its charismatic bartenders and quality cocktails. BAKER AND WIFE wanted the Gold title straight up this year, while MADE RESTAURANT can cheers a boozy one for Silver. Meanwhile, BOCA SARASOTA stirred up some competition for the Bronze spot, and Element raised the bar for a neat Honorable Mention win. -AC Louis Walton (on State Street): It was a refreshing change to enjoy dinner and cocktails at the State Street Eating House + Cocktails since it’s located
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on quieter State Street in downtown Sarasota. We sat outside and watched the world go by. The restaurant is known for its specialty drinks prepared by experienced bartenders with satisfying food menu options. Kimberlie MacDonal (on Baker and Wife): The greeting staff is very nice and makes accommodations to serve you when space is tight. The bartender on the nights that we’ve been there is super creative with the scratch-made cocktails, and my husband really loves the Old Fashioned served there. Great drinks and atmosphere. Darbi Bossman (on MADE): A lot of thought and creative thinking has gone into their “craft”tails. Mixology at its finest. The presentations are amazing. And the cocktail book is put together beautifully. Cynthia Tompkins(on Boca): If you sit at their spacious bar, they customize their craft cocktails to what you say you happen to be in the mood for. Citrus? Sweet? Or maybe something muddled with some of the herbs that they grow there. Platinum Winner- State Street Eating House / Gold WinnerBaker and Wife / Silver Winner- MADE Restaurant / Bronze Winner- Boca Sarasota.
BEST LOCAL COFFEE O&A Coffee Supply
Iced, frothed, decaf, topped with whipped cream or dairy-free, the possibilities for coffee are seemingly endless these days, and what better way to start the day than exactly how you order it. As ingrained
in our morning routine as brushing our teeth and putting on shoes, that first cup of coffee gets most of us through the day, and these local cafes hold an espresso part in our hearts. Wake up and smell the winner. O&A COFFEE SUPPLY keeps us caffeinated at Platinum, while SIMON’S COFFEE HOUSE buzzes just behind with Gold. Separated only by the slimmest margin, JAVA DAWG COFFEE has us barking for more at Silver and brewing into Bronze was BANYAN COFFEE CO. Other spots with hot-takes on everyone’s favorite hot drink were Honorable Mentions, Pastry Art Bakery Cafe and vegan favorite Project Coffee. -AC Ali Pruitt: (on O&A): I’ve known Justin, owner of O&A Coffee and Supply, for many years. He knows everything there is to know about the coffee industry. He has created a sanctuary for a mixture of people that can only be found in Sarasota. A great place to stop in and grab a cup for a walk at Island Park, a quiet spot to get some work done, and you’re sure to always have a drink made by professionals. It’s always a pleasurable experience. Michele Grabber (on Simon’s): Simon’s coffee and chai tea are both amazing. We often have breakfast there with friends, and even with all of our different tastes and preferences, Simon’s has something delicious for us all. Bravo, Simon! Renee Ferreira: (on Java Dawg): My daily coffee fix. Candy Yong-Walentine (on Banyan Coffee): Josh and his staff are expert coffee roasters. Their beans are freshly-roasted,
and their service is friendly and prompt. LeeAnne Swor (on Project Coffee): Great coffee and the best avocado toast. They were creative and stayed open, serving customers from the door during the pandemic. Platinum Winner- O&A Coffee Supply / Gold Winner- Simon’s Coffee House / Silver WinnerJava Dawg Coffee / Bronze Winner- Banyan Coffee Co.
BEST LOCAL ICE CREAM Detwiler’s Farm Market
I scream, you scream, we all scream for a real, fresh, local ice cream, instead of the pint we bought in the freezer aisle because it was “BOGO.” Luckily, there are plenty of parlors for you to try. DETWILER’S FARM MARKET practically sweeps the competition coming in at Platinum because homemade ice cream is what grocery shopping has been missing. But the the rest of the winners are in close running, with ABEL’S ICE CREAM coming in Gold, ORANGE OCTOPUS behind in Silver, and GELATO-GO SARASOTA just a handful of votes behind, securing Bronze. Try one, try all. Though “all” sure does sound like the better choice, including the still-so-delicious Honorable Mentions, Yoder’s Southern Creamery, Siesta Creamery, American Honey Creamery and Lickity Splits Ice Cream. -OL Michael Sundo (on Detwiler’s): Detwiler’s has the best ice cream. Each of my four children loves the fresh flavors and enjoying it in the big chairs
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outside the store. Mom and Dad love the prices. My favorite flavor is “Toasted Coconut” with a brownie underneath. Phil Rockey (on Abel’s Ice Cream): Jill and Jerry are always so compassionate to their customers when we come into the store. You can definitely tell it’s more than just a business to them. Hands down, the best ice cream in Sarasota. Renee Ferreira (on Orange Octopus): The best ice cream in town. Family-owned and operated with ice cream made with real ingredients. Their Key Lime Pie is my all-time favorite. I don’t even get the pie anymore; I just go get a scoop of their ice cream. Zachary Dalton (on Gelato Go): Everyone is very friendly, and the gelato is so fresh that it tastes made-to-order. Gelato-Go always has exciting, new flavors and we love taking our nephews for a stroll downtown with a big cup of gelato-go. Their faces light up every time they see the storefront. Platinum Winner- Detwiler’s Farm Market / Gold Winner- Abel’s Ice Cream / Silver Winner- Orange Octopus / Bronze Winner-Gelato-Go Sarasota.
BEST LOCAL BUTCHER Detwiler’s Farm Market
Even though we’re a coastal town, it’s clear that in Sarasota—we have the meats. And with all the pandemic home cooking, it’s high time we invest in the truth that the quality of ingredients matters. For the socially-distanced weekend barbeque, these local butchers are the best of the bunch.
DETWILER’S FARM MARKET secures Platinum with their ever-changing meat counters, while THE BUTCHER’S BLOCK takes the Gold with their prime meats and fine wines. ALPINE STEAKHOUSE, where
almost nothing comes out of a box or is shrinkwrapped, earns Silver and MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET comes in at Bronze for their one-stop-shop grocery and meat market. Deserving of an Honorable Mention, if only for their name, Chop Shop. -OL Louis Roller (on Detwiler’s): Aside from their meat being fresh and high quality, the butchers are pleasant and very quick to accommodate special requests, such as packaging purchases in smaller packages. Amy Kinker (on Butcher Block): They have a wide variety of meats, both exotic and standard, with great and experienced butchers to help. Great wine selection and prepared dishes as well. Barbara Archbold (on Alpine): The butchers at Alpine are very personable and aim to please, getting you the perfect cut of meat and proper weight. We recently purchased melt-in-your-mouth filets and the twice-baked potatoes. Delicious. They helped me pair everything with a nice bottle of red wine from a collection of well-priced selections. On other occasions, they trim the fat and cut meats into pieces for stew, Osso Bucco, etc. And it’s always a pleasure to deal with a local small business as well. Marlane Wurzbach (on Morton’s): Morton’s comes through for me for important dinner parties. After 15 years of living in this area, they’re the only
source I’ve found that fills my request for big, thick slices of veal shanks for our tradition of serving Osso Buco for Christmas dinner. Beyond that, we always know they’ll have just what we want when we want it. The whole store fills all our meal needs with wonderfully fresh groceries and delicious prepared foods. My folks shopped there in the ’80s, and when we moved to Sarasota, a big reason we chose this Hudson Bayou neighborhood was the proximity to Morton’s. Platinum WinnerDetwiler’s Farm Market / Gold Winner- The Butcher’s Block / Silver Winner- Alpine Steakhouse / Bronze Winner- Morton’s Gourmet Market.
BEST LOCAL CATERER Michael’s On East
While we may have tabled back on large-scale events temporarily, it doesn’t mean we don’t recognize the smaller triumphs from the many local caterers in the region. MICHAEL’S ON EAST stands tall with the Platinum win, while ZILDJIAN’S creative gluten-free options please customers with dietary restrictions. MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET is always a longtime goto for catering, placing Silver while newcomer CHEF MIKE SRQ breaks up the competition with Bronze. Meanwhile, the consistency of Nellie’s Deli Market and Catering, as well as the international inspiration from Simply Gourmet Caterers, earns both Honorable Mentions. -BM
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Rick Clary (on Michael’s On East): I first started having Michael’s on East cater events for business and personal in 1985. They are the best because their quality is consistent every time, just like the restaurant. It is difficult to maintain consistent quality in the food industry, and that is where Michael excels. Last June, my wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and Michael’s catered our dinner with family in the wine cellar, and it was fantastic as always, even though the staff was wearing masks it couldn’t have been a nicer event with excellent food. Phil and Michael are truly the best. Carole Gorin (on Zildjian): Good tasting, fresh food made using local produce and served in recyclable containers. Marlane Wurzbach (on Morton’s): For a small gathering or a large event, Morton’s has been winning our hearts for decades. Debra Edwards (on Chef Mike): When it was time for a celebration of life for my husband, I shared with Mike all the favorite foods my husband loved. Mike assured me he would handle it all and our celebration would be great. It was perfect. Chef Mike was amazing. Kyle Carson (on Chef Mike): Chef Mike catered our wedding, and more people remember the food than the wedding. Great chef! Platinum Winner- Michael’s On East / Gold Winner- Zildjian’s / Silver Winner- Morton’s Gourmet Market / Bronze Winner- Chef Mike SRQ.
BEST LOCAL JUICE CROP Juice Cold-pressing it to the top to keep its reign in the competition is CROP, which squeezed its way to Platinum for its bottled freshness and nutritious vibes. Taking Gold is former food truck to newly-opened brick and mortar, SARAFRESH. SIMON’S COFFEE HOUSE chopped and blended the vegan goods for Silver while the GREEN ZEBRA locations rendered a clean green response for Bronze. Additionally, a rebranded and relocated Good Fortune Juicery & Kitchen gained an Honorable Mention win. -BM Keera Belviy (on Crop): Duh. Best juice in town. I can’t argue that. I’ve been a loyal customer for years and have never had a bad experience. Love this place. Thanks, Karen and Keith! Shayna Teicher (on Crop): There are a thousand reasons Crop is the best, from Karen and Keith’s unwavering passion, commitment to quality, and attention to the details that matter, to the friendly, well-trained staff, to the flat-out best juices I’ve had anywhere. Their graband-go food is delicious and thoughtful. This is where I treat myself and fuel up for long workdays. Jim Donohue (on SaraFresh): Lynn brings her sunshine to each product created and crafted. Everything is fresh and delicious. Renee Jennings (on Simon’s): Yummy, the Skittles! Platinum Winner- CROP Juice / Gold Winner- SaraFresh / Silver Winner- Simo’s Coffee House / Bronze Winner- Green Zebra.
BEST FARMERS MARKET Sarasota Farmers Market
Farmers Markets stand at the core of shopping locally, so naturally, they hold a special place in our hearts. Each market instills its own sense of pride and protectiveness as intimate shopping destinations where the faces and foods are friendly and familiar. Coming in at Platinum, SARASOTA FARMERS MARKET steals the competition. Coming in at Gold is the ever-bustling PHILLIPPI PARK WEDNESDAY MARKET, then the LAKEWOOD RANCH FARMERS MARKET in Silver, and finally, ENGLEWOOD FARMERS MARKET in Bronze. Shop around and experiment with each because there’s nothing like these local, open-air markets. -OL Jason Laureano (on Sarasota Farmers Market): The biggest, the best, the most consistent. The aromas on Main Street and the fun crowds are a must-stop. Alyson Zildjian (on Phillippi): A wonderful place for people to go to experience locally-made items and support locally-sourced food vendors. Many of the items are grown here and I love that I can support the local vendors that make a difference in our local economy. I especially appreciate all the local fresh produce. Carlee Griffin (on Lakewood Ranch): My favorite Sunday tradition. I love the fresh produce, fine goods and handmade crafts curated there from the amazing vendors. Shopping local is important
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to me, and this market makes it so easy. Live music from local artists really makes it something special. It doesn’t hurt that I can always find macarons there too. Lauren Smith (on Englewood): So popular that you need to get there early for parking or plan to get steps in for your day. My favorites are organic produce, mushrooms, fresh, unique flowers, Kokokahn essential oils, healthy popsicles, organic tamales (better than the ones in Texas), jewelry, teas, live music, and much more. Platinum WinnerSarasota Farmers Market / Gold Winner- Phillippi Park Wednesday Market / Silver Winner- Lakewood Ranch Farmers Market / Bronze Winner- Englewood Farmers Market.
BEST LOCAL GROCER
Detwiler’s Farm Market Only two finalists this year are in our Best Local Grocer category—each standing as institutions in the community. DETWILER’S FARM MARKET secures Platinum with its multiple locations, locallysourced products, and family-run feel-good stores. MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET takes Gold for the epicures, selling all things exquisite and high quality. You can never go wrong when shopping at either local grocer, for the week’s groceries, or just for an impromptu snack or guilty pleasure. -OL Rachel Blanco (on Detwiler’s): Detwiler’s has the freshest and least expensive produce of any grocery store around. A lot of the fruit and vegetables are
local, which is great for our area. The meat, fish, and deli counters are first-rate, and the bakery comes up with delicious goodies which fill the store with mouth-watering aromas. They have an excellent vitamin and supplement aisle. The staff are all extremely friendly and accommodating, and the only issue I have is finding a time to shop when it’s not overly crowded. Amy Kinker (on Morton’s Market): It’s Morton’s, you should know. Small but mighty: for produce, meats, deli, prepared meals, wines, bakery and flowers. Crazy how great it is. Platinum Winner- Detwiler’s Farm Market / Gold Winner- Morton’s Gourmet Market.
BEST LOCAL FARM Honeyside Farm Shout-out to the local farmers that provide the community with fresh, organic fruits and veggies to keep our pantries full of provisions –especially when things got wonky there for a minute in grocery stores. HONEYSIDE FARM claims Platinum, and HUNSADER FARM is right behind them, grazing in Gold. DAKIN DAIRY FARM MARKET makes it to the Silver field while ALBRITTON FRUIT FARMS U-pick option remains a favorite local pastime. Say ‘hello’ to Honorable Mentions, Grove Ladder Farms and Worden Farms whose produce made its way to many kitchen countertops. -BM Anne Rollings (on Honeyside): They went from sustainable to organic, are family-owned and supply our local restaurants. There is no better
tomato than Tiffany’s golden grape. Missy Pope (on Dakin): Dakin Dairy is for the town. They do so many things for kids too. They loan their dairy cows out every year for kids to work with and show at the fair, amongst numerous other things. They’re a great family-run business. Marlane Wurzbach (on Albritton): My parents retired to Sarasota and used to send a gift box of oranges and grapefruits to us in Connecticut every Christmas. We’ve continued the tradition by sending them to both our daughters and their families. This year, we sent more than one box in the hopes that we’d help keep them healthy during the pandemic. Albritton always comes through for us with perfect transactions, and they keep my orders handy, so I can repeat the fruit combos our daughters like. I am endlessly impressed with all the hard work they’ve put into growing their business and its roots here in the town we all love. Platinum Winner- Honeyside Farm / Gold Winner- Hunsader Farm / Silver Winner- Dakin Dairy Farm Market / Bronze Winner- Albritton Fruit Farms .
BEST BUBBLE TEA
Kam’s Bubble Tea and Sushi Insanely popular overseas, Bubble Tea is just taking off state-side. These spots are here to burst into your beverage bubble. Also known as Boba Tea, this sweet drink combines milk, different flavored tea and tapioca pearls (bubbles). Sealed in a cup and served with a giant straw to suck up all the chewy
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pearls, Bubble Tea is an addictive treat ready to replace your smoothie and milkshake obsession. KAM’S BUBBLE TEA AND SUSHI burst into Platinum, with ELIXIR TEA HOUSE only a handful of votes away in Gold. The Silver contender is serving bobas up at TEAS DAYS. BUN-HAUS VIETNAMESE KITCHEN par-tea’d its way into Bronze. -AC Platinum Winner- Kam’s Bubble Tea and Sushi / Gold WinnerElixir Tea House / Silver Winner- Teas Days / Bronze Winner- Bun-Haus Vietnamese Kitchen.
BEST LOCAL BREAD C’est La Vie Bread seems to be demonized as a carb-heavy indulgence, but these local purveyors prove otherwise. When baked right, with minimal and quality ingredients, bread can be as healthful as it is satisfying. Making France proud is C’EST LA VIE in Platinum, as well as another French touchstone RENDEZ VOUS BAKERY in Gold. BAVARIAN BREAD bakes up a storm for Silver, and MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET’S racks of artisanal flavored loaves make toast a real treat. Newcomer ATRIA BREAD + COFFEE rises as it creates a noteworthy indent in the polls– just coming up short but meriting Honorable Mention. -BM Theodore Schmitt: (on C’est La Vie): Super authentic French bread and delicious baked goods. Chris Clary (on Rendez Vous): They have the best baguettes that we have ever had–even in France. The owners are very nice, and we love supporting a family-owned business. Stephanie Hanson
(on Rendez Vous): Rendez Vous French Bakery transports me back to Paris just from the smell once you walk in the door. The treats are so dazzling to look at, and it’s the only place you can get traditional French bread–made the correct way with limited ingredients and no preservatives. Maya Kirby (on Bavarian Bread): Nick makes some amazing bread. The cranberry walnut is one of my favorites. Any of his rosemary bread you can get your hands on should be slathered in blackberry jam and butter. Platinum Winner- C’est La Vie / Gold Winner- Rendez Vous Bakery / Silver Winner- Bavarian Bread / Bronze Winner- Morton’s Gourmet Market.
BEST LOCAL COOKIES The Sand Witch Shoppe
There are few things in this world as delicious as a freshly baked cookie right out of the oven, and this lot gave our readers a lot to chew on as they baked their way into our hearts and stomachs. With hundreds of votes coming in, when push came to crumb, these local spots chocolate-chipped their way to the top. THE SAND WITCH SHOPPE was a batch made in heaven for our readers, besting the rest by almost a hundred votes snagging Platinum. SIMON’S COFFEE HOUSE and OASIS CAFE had a batter royale for Gold and Silver while SIFT BAKEHOUSE chocolate chipped their way into Bronze. Another spot our readers thought was a-dough-able was Honorable Mention winner Ionie Retreat and Organic Raw Food Cafe. -AC
Haleigh Pennington (on The Sand Witch): The best cookies ever. Even vegan options. Love the inclusive options. Virginia Hitchcock: (on Oasis Cafe): Great baked goods all around.Platinum Winner- The Sand Witch Shoppe / Gold WinnerSimon’s Coffee House / Silver Winner- Oasis Café / Bronze Winner- Sift Bakehouse.
PHILANTHROPY &GIVING BACK BEST LOCAL NONPROFIT Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue
In a region rich in charitable causes, NATE’S HONOR ANIMAL RESCUE won the hearts of readers who awarded it the Platinum. FLORIDA CANCER SPECIALISTS FOUNDATION received plenty of support and secured Gold, thanks in part to the noticeable difference made in so many of our readers’ own lives. CHILDREN FIRST won Silver recognition while MEALS ON WHEELS PLUS OF MANATEE filled countless stomachs during the pandemic to support a Bronze finish. Deserving of a few Honorable Mentions– seeing as a particularly long list of nonprofits were nominated and voted for this year–are Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Selah Freedom, Southeastern Guide Dogs, All Faiths Food Bank, Forty Carrots, Sisterhood for Good and Child Protection Center. -BM
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Susan Defoe (on Nate’s Honor): My husband and I have volunteered with Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue for 11 years now. This organization gets better every year, particularly this year while we are going through a huge re-building. Nate’s not only tries to find homes for the cute, adoptable dogs but also takes in the old and ones with health challenges. They address the health problems the animals have prior to trying to find them new homes. They truly care about the animals. David Gradl (on Nate’s Honor): My wife and I have been fostering kittens with Honor for eight years now, and honestly, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. We work very diligently to raise the kittens to be the happiest, loving, and well-behaved kittens they can be so that you can’t resist falling in love with them. It must be working. We have adopted four kittens ourselves. Honor FurEver. Elaine Ganick (on Florida Cancer): Cancer patients and their families, through no fault of their own, often suffer worry and stress over how to pay their everyday bills because cancer treatment may have caused them
together, and the agency is very well-rounded. The parents understand that, no matter what, Children First will always be there. Lynn Schultz (on Meals on Wheels): 700 meals a day delivered in SRQ. How amazing is that? Lots of community volunteers help daily to those in need. Platinum Winner- Nate’s Honor Animal Resuce / Gold Winner- Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation / Silver Winner- Children First / Bronze Winner- Meal on Wheels Plus of Manatee
BEST LOCAL ANIMAL NONPROFIT Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue
Continually a feel-good category to get behind, voters barked loud and proud for their favorite Animal Nonprofit, with a stream of votes coming in for multi-year winner NATE’S HONOR ANIMAL RESCUE to raise its paws for Platinum. Though, the HUMANE SOCIETY OF SARASOTA gave them a run for their bones, tailing in Gold. BIG CAT HABITAT GULF COAST SANCTUARY found a home as a Silver winner while veteran to the competition, CAT DEPOT, tallies their treats to Bronze. -BM
Captain’s life was cut short due to osteosarcoma, but HSSC remained by our side through that process as well. HSSC paid for Captain’s palliative care medications to ensure that he was pain-free and comfortable for his last moments here with us. We are forever grateful to HSSC. We wouldn’t have been able to become such great new moms and handle the loss of our boy without their support. Ron Waldron (on Big Cat Habitat): Great cause for animals, children, families and free admission for veterans all year. Casey Easton (on Cat Depot): They saved my kitty’s life. They gave me an incredible discount as I was quite young and we worked it out, and now he’s better than ever. Mary Bowen (on Cat Depot): I have adopted two cats from the Cat Depot. They are very careful about who is allowed to adopt. I love how they truly care about all the kitties in the world. Platinum Winner- Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue / Gold Winner- Humane Society of Sarasota County / Silver Winner-Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary / Bronze Winner- Cat Depot
BEST CHILDRENS’ NONPROFIT Children First
Our community is fortunate to have a robust number of nonprofits serving as home to passionate advocates and defenders of our children and youth. CHILDREN FIRST, with its Head Start and Early Head Start programming, climbed above the rest to win Platinum in the category this year. But much love flowed from readers to the social service professionals at MANATEE CHILDREN’S SERVICES INC./MCS CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER, the Gold winner. TWIG CARES perched at Silver place while the BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF SARASOTA COUNTY came in at Bronze. Honorable Mention wins go to Girls Inc. of Sarasota, Child Protection Center, All Star Children Foundation, Easterseals of SWFL, Mothers Helping Mothers and Hope 4 Communities. -JO
to not be able to work or even lose their job. The FCS Foundation helps ease the burden of cancer by paying for non-medical living expenses, such as rent or mortgage, car payments and utilities. To my knowledge, there is no other nonprofit that is meeting this type of need. Evan Ackerman (on Children First): Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. At 15 sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children ages birth to five years old from low-income families to prepare them for success in Kindergarten and beyond. Katherine Martucci (on Children First): As a classroom volunteer, I have seen firsthand the devotion and love that the teachers and staff have for every child. Everyone is so focused on the mission of strengthening the children and families 78 | srq magazine_ APR21 live local
Mia Valentino (on Nate’s Honor): They take dogs and cats from kill shelters and find them good homes. They also take care of their animals, give them food and take them on walks. I got a dog from Nate’s and volunteered there, so I know how good they take care of their animals. It is so nice to see them bring animals back from a bad environment. It’s also very uplifting to see kids and volunteers helping out. Katie Scholtz (on Humane Society): We adopted our loving boy, Captain, from the shelter six months ago. Under HSSC’s care, Captain received x-rays to explain his missing eye and multiple scars. Even though the radiographs revealed major abuse from his past, HSSC made Captain feel comfortable, safe and loved during his time at the shelter. So much so that you would think he had the happiest life one could have. Upon adoption, HSSC always stayed in touch; they even convinced Genevieve and me to create a social media page so they could be up to date with Captain’s new and happy life. Unfortunately,
June Marie Braithwaite (on Children First): Not only do they have many head start programs for children from low-income families, but they also offer a financial budgeting class for the parents of these children. One year I was proud to be one of the mentors in this program, and it was very rewarding. Bailee Brandt (on Children First): Children First is not just a childcare program but a family care program. They are dedicated to their mission and support all dreams, big and small. Debbie Crissman (on MCS Child Advcocay): Manatee Children’s Services represents and cares for children who have no voice of their own and no one else to help. The people who work for them are quite obviously passionate about the cause and providing the best possible care for the kids. Bobbie Price (on Twig): The Twig strives to make foster kids feel special and cared for by providing them unique shopping experiences appealing especially to them. A great service to the foster parent as well. Platinum Winner- Children First / Gold Winner- Manatee Children’s Services Inc./MSC Child Advocacy Center / Silver Winner- Twig Cares / Bronze Winner- Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and Desoto Counties.
ABOVE: Philip Tavill of Children First done up as the star from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – one of the popular series watched on Netflix when beach days to Siesta Key and nights out to State Street Eating House + Cocktails were sanctioned.
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BEST NONPROFIT TO ADAPT Children First
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many charities and nonprofits in the region to abruptly readjust their mission, sometimes at a moment when services were in greater demand than ever. A perfect example? CHILDREN FIRST, which provides Head Start services, had to recalibrate at a time when families’ day-to-day routines were sabotaged by lost income and remote learning—earning the Platinum place. FLORIDA CANCER SPECIALISTS FOUNDATION earned high marks to place at Gold. Collective philanthropy masters at IMPACT 100 SRQ retooled their way into Silver, while SOUTHEASTERN GUIDE DOGS sniffed out the path to Bronze. Other nonprofits with Honorable Mention wins include the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County, Cat Depot, Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab, Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary, Education Foundation of Sarasota County and The Bay. -JO Barbara Aferiat (on Children First): They are actively trying to build at-home libraries for children from infancy to age five by seeking book donations. Children owning their own books and having a parent or guardian read to them helps to promote literacy. Platinum Winner- Children First / Gold Winner- Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation / Silver Winner- Impact 100 SRQ / Bronze WinnerSoutheastern Guide Dogs.
HOME &DESIGN BEST LOCAL ARCHITECT
Solstice Planning and Architecture Architects building the environment today do so on a foundation poured by giants. Whose buildings will measure up against those of Paul Rudolph and Victor Lundy? Our readers like what they see from SOLSTICE PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE, this year’s Platinum winning firm. But not far behind is MARK SULTANA, DSDG ARCHITECTS.in Gold. Down a story, you can see the work of Silver winner SUAREZ ARCHITECTURE, which comes in atop Bronze winner ECHT ARCHITECTS. And plenty of firms earned Honorable Mentions, including C. Alan Anderson, Hoyt Architects, Halflants and Pichette, Leader Design Studio, Leonardo Lunardi, Damian Blumetti, HausDesign Studio and Zoller Autry Architects. -JO Kathleen Sullivan (on Solstice): They designed our ongoing project of combining two condos into one, and we are very pleased with the result. Jonathan [Parks], the principal architect, is quite creative, works as a partner utilizing your ideas and puts them into a practical, ergonomic and beautiful design. Merry Sanders (on Solstice): Their commercial and residential designs are beautifully understated and refined and built for this climate. They invite the eye. An entire block on Blvd. of the Arts was designed
by this candidate. It is the right height and does not overwhelm even though there are many businesses/ restaurants in this project. Mary Allen (on Mark Sultana): He creates beautiful designs and listens to his client’s wants and needs. Platinum WinnerSolstice Planning and Architecture / Gold WinnerMark Sultana, DSDG Architects / Silver Winner- Suarez Architecutre / Bronze Winner- Echt Architects.
BEST LOCAL LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Michael A. Gilkey Landscape Architect
If you’re looking for someone to artfully execute a landscaping project that is deserving of a number of printed features and magazine awards—including SRQ’s Home of the Year—look no further than MICHAEL A. GILKEY LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT, who had clients screaming from the rooftops for him to win Platinum. DENNIS A. BARTH LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT sketched his way to Gold while Tim Borden of BORDEN LANDSCAPE DESIGN rounded out this category in Silver. -BM Genie Pascual (on Michael Gilkey): Michael Gilkey has been a pleasure to deal with. His bedside manner exhibits knowledge and patience, but best of all, he truly has a calling for landscape architecture. He constantly aims to marry the client’s wishes with [plant] species that make sense for the climate and terrain in question. He is very professional and kind, and these two attributes permeate throughout his company. Mark Sultana (on Borden): I have
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worked with Tim Borden for years; my clients and I love his landscape design flair and aesthetic. He listens to the clients’ needs and provides an amazing landscape touch to our architecture. Platinum Winner- Michael A. Gilkey Landscape Architect / Gold Winner- Dennis A. Barth Landscape Architect / Silver Winner- Borden Landsacpe Design.
BEST HOME BUILDER— NEIGHBORHOODS Lee Wetherington Homes
The region serves as host to some of the state’s most successful community developers. Who stands out among the makers of neighborhoods? LEE WETHERINGTON HOMES—the Platinum force behind LakeHouse Cove at Waterside and other communities—came out tops in our poll. Close behind, voters put NEAL COMMUNITIES on the map in Gold. JOHN CANNON HOMES in Sarasota had the support for Silver, while Manatee-based MEDALLION HOME won the approval for Bronze. Honorable Mention wins for Kolter Homes/Artistry, Bruce Williams Homes and Mattamy Homes/Sunrise Preserve at Palmer Ranch. -JO William P. Mies (on Neal Communities): I had a Neal home built four years ago, and I’m very happy with the result. Neal is conscious of the environment, and the duty builders have for preserving it. Platinum Winner- Lee Wetherington Homes / Gold Winner- Neal
Communities / Silver Winner-John Cannon Homes / Bronze Winner- Medallion Home.
BEST LOCAL CONTRACTOR
BEST HOME BUILDER— CUSTOM HOMES Voigt Brothers Construction
Need work done on your home or property? Construction firms in the region offering remodel service got plenty of love from readers in this year’s survey, none more than Platinum winner
Living in a home you love is more important than ever. So who to trust to build that dream home to house your whole life? Our readers point to Platinum winner VOIGT BROTHERS CONSTRUCTION. JOHN CANNON HOMES pours a foundation for a solid Gold finish. NUTTER CUSTOM CONSTRUCTION wins over enough readers to finish in Silver while SYNERGY BUILDING CORPORATION comes in at Bronze. Honorable Mentions go to Murray Homes, Nautilus Homes, Jonas Yoder Custom Homes, Milano Homes, Vertical Design & Build, Jim Meyer Construction and Randy Shrock Construction. -JO Chuck and Donna Ross (on Voigt Brothers): They do one-of-a-kind unique custom homes. They have built some of the most amazing homes in Sarasota in the last few years. They are simply the best! Diane Lane (on Nutter Custom): I have known TJ Nutter on a professional/networking level for over a decade. His character and dedication to professionalism speak volumes in our community. Platinum Winner- Voigt Brothers Construction / Gold Winner- John Cannon Homes / Silver Winner- Nutter Custom Construction / Bronze Winner- Synergy Building Corporation.
CABEX CONSTRUCTION, DESIGN, BUILD REMODEL SARASOTA. But NUTTER CUSTOM CONSTRUCTION hammered into the Gold spot, with TANDEM CONSTRUCTION building solid support to win Silver. Add on MURRAY HOMES
for the Bronze finish. On top of that, Honorable Mention wins go to Synergy Building Corporation, Nautilus Homes, Markley Construction, Josh Wynne Construction, Dynan Construction Management and Ritz Construction Group. -JO Matthew Fu (on CaBex Construction): I have personally met the owner as a fellow biker and local business owner. I couldn’t be more impressed with the results they produce on every completed job I’ve seen, including my own. I will always use and highly recommend CaBex for any remodels. Lauren Hayes (on Tandem Construction): Tandem Construction has been a dedicated part of our community for over 40 years. The team and service they provide are exceptional. You can spot their logo on projects all over the city, but a personal favorite project for me would be the new Atlanta
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Braves Spring Training facility - such a cool project to have completed by a local team. I love that they are family-owned and oriented. Everyone I know with the company has been with the company for decades. They hire the best people, and they want to stay, which speaks volumes for the company and culture. Platinum Winner- CaBex Construction, Design, Build Remodel Sarasota / Gold WinnerNutter Custom Construction / Silver Winner- Tandem Construction / Bronze Winner- Murray Homes .
BEST INTERIOR DESIGNER/ INTERIOR DECORATOR Chic on the Cheap With a spectacular amount of interior design talent in the region, this category is always super competitive. Making a name for themselves for the first time are Platinum winners JILL GEISDORF AND CRISTI MARTEL OF CHIC ON THE CHEAP. CARRIE RILEY OF RILEY INTERIOR DESIGN makes her way into the Gold spot, and the team at SAVANNAH’S HOME & DESIGN takes home the Silver medal. Meanwhile, DSDG ARCHITECTS’ APRIL BALLIETTE continues to blow clients away on projects with her Bronze win. Deserving of Honorable Mentions are the design teams at Solstice Planning and Architecture, JKL Design Group, Blu Interiors, Orange Moon Interiors and Ana Santa Maria of APEX Studio. -BM Samantha Haynes (on Chic on the Cheap): Jill Geisdorff is amazing. She has a fabulous design eye, and she knows her way around a construction
site. She will help you pick your accent pillows and know whether or not you can move your accent wall. Whether you need a refresh, a remodel, or are building a new home, Jill is absolutely brilliant. Brenden Trout (on Riley Interior): They are my favorite because they work their hardest to address my needs. Jessica Lechuga (on Savannah’s): Courtney is so professional and talented. Our experience working with her company has been nothing short of exceptional. In addition to her beautiful designs, she has a light about her. Because of that, the whole experience is so joyful. Alayna Mines (on April Balliette): April is incredible at what she does. I have admired her work for years. She continues to push boundaries in all that she does. Eric Latine (on April Balliette): April is one of the best interior designers I have ever worked with in my 35 years in architecture and construction. She is totally dedicated to her clients’ needs and brings her own special touch to the design process. Tina Robbins (on JKL Designs): JKL brings modern luxury and functionality to another level, above perfect. Allyson Jenks (on Orange Moon): I had the privilege to work with Kelly Kaiser in 2020. It was a rough ride for small businesses everywhere, and the home and interior design industry was not spared. Kelly made a clear plan to keep her business afloat, keep her employees safe, and her clients as her top priority. When one of her clients fell ill, she sent photos daily to inspire her. Kelly sent images of the ocean and beautiful quotes, décor ideas on her home,
as she was told the dream of the client’s completion of her Florida home was giving her hope. Kelly’s eye for design and space planning is incomparable. Her efficiency and ability to listen to what the client desires are what sets her apart. Sometimes people wanting interior decorators underestimate how important it is to have a designer with construction knowledge during the design-build or remodeling process. Kelly has just that–which helps keeps everything on schedule and budget. Platinum Winner- Jill Geisdorf and Cristi Martel of Chic on the Cheap / Gold Winner- Riley Interior Design / Silver Winner- Savannah’s Home & Design / Bronze WinnerDSDG Architects’ April Balliette.
BEST HOME FURNISHINGS STORE Blu Home
Whether it’s that eye-catching piece for your foyer or the dangerously-comfy couch that challenges you to not sink into its plushness all day, these home decor and furniture stores make your interiors come to life. BLU HOME’S modern retail shop and design team catapults into the Platinum spot this year while MATTER BROTHERS takes up the Gold spot. Voters appointed the chicness of SOFT SQUARE MODERN FURNITURE STORE for Silver and 24/7 FLOORS SARASOTA laid the groundwork for Bronze. Meanwhile, Sarasota Home Collection came to play – making it a close call but collecting an Honorable Mention. -BM
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LeeAnne Swor (on Blu Home): They are super sweet girls that select unique pieces for their store. They have a great eye for design. I purchased one of my favorite chairs from them. Kimberlie MacDonald (on Matter Brothers): What a gorgeous showcase of contemporary and classic furniture. So many choices and loads of distinct and unique fabrics for your custom pieces. They offer one-of-a-kind items, are super easy to work with and provide free design consultations. I absolutely love them - my entire home is furnished with their inventory. Dan Barzel (on Soft Square): Great service matched with beautiful and highquality products – something for every home. They sold us all our outdoor furniture and a number of pieces inside our home. Efficient, good follow-up and representing some of the best modern designer products out there. Platinum Winner- Blu Home / Gold Winner- Matter Brothers / Silver Winner- Soft Square Modern Furniture Store / Bronze Winner- 24/7 Floors Sarasota.
BEST FLOORING STORE Manasota Flooring
Readers were impressed with MANASOTA FLOORING, who took our Platinum spot once and floor all, with FLORIDA DESIGN WORKS SARASOTA fixing a close Gold. Laying down the work, STICKS AND STONE FLOORING nabbed Silver, and INTERNATIONAL WOOD FLOORS sealed the deal with Bronze. Readers were also
floored by Honorable Mentions, Oracle Flooring and Design and Flooring Options by Carpet One. -AC Melba Jimenez (on Manasota Flooring): Best customer service in town. April Balliette (on Florida Design Works Sarasota): Great customer service and beautiful products. Sheryl Hernly (on Oracle Flooring and Design): I have known Liliana for a while now, and she is great to work with. She has such a wide variety of awesome selections and knows what to do in every wall & flooring situation to make your living surfaces a masterpiece. Platinum WinnerManasota Flooring / Gold Winner- Florida Design Works Sarasota / Silver Winner- Sticks and Stone Flooring / Bronze Winner- International Wood Floors.
BEST WINDOW COVERINGS Beginning to End Interiors
Some say eyes are the window to the soul, and these window-covering businesses help add some soul to our readers’ homes. BEGINNING TO END INTERIORS lands Platinum while M&M WALLCOVERING AND BLINDS takes Gold. In our Silver spot is DOMENICK’S BLINDS AND DECOR, followed closely by WINDOW DECOR AND DESIGN. Another fan favorite was Honorable Mention AIH Custom Window Treatments. -AC Megan Ellis (on Beginning to End): Beginning To End has the resources for a one-stop shopping experience, offering furniture, reupholstery and much more. Platinum Winner- Begining to End Interiors / Gold Winner- M&M Wallcovering and
Blinds / Silver Winner- Domenick’s Blinds and Decor / Bronze Winner- Window Decor and Design.
BEST PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPING Grant’s Gardens
Yard and lawns all around town are flourishing, with homeowners admittedly giving more effort and attention to cleaning up and maintaining their yards in the thick of the lockdown. If you’re still looking for the right person to landscape your humble abode, give GRANT’S GARDENS a call as they’ve been named Platinum winner. LNEW LEAF LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT mowed down the competition for Gold while LANDSCAPE 941 planted the seeds for Silver. Bring up the rear is HARDY LANDSCAPE in Bronze. Honorable Mentions, Greenway Lawn Service and Artistree Landscape. -BM Rose Ibarra (on Greenway): Greenway is the best, most honest and trustworthy service. They’re family-run and so good at what they do. Platinum Winner- Grant’s Gardens / Gold Winner- New Leaf Landscape Management / Silver Winner- Landscape 941 / Bronze Winner- Hardy Landscape.
BEST POOL CONTRACTOR Lucas Lagoons
The perfect accessory for Florida fun might be a swimsuit or sunscreen, but where would that get you without the ultimate addition? A pool. These pool contractors make a splash with our readers.
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Swimming in at Platinum is LUCAS LAGOONS. WATER DESIGNS OF SARASOTA makes waves in Gold place while COAST TO COAST POOLS bubbles up to Silver. Diving into Bronze is WATERSCAPES POOLS AND SPAS. Holding their breath for next year are Honorable Mentions Olympus Pools and Pool Creations: Pool Design and Remodeling. -AC Catherine Ferrer (on Lucas Lagoons): They show a beautiful picture of our community not just to my family, but to the world. My kids feel proud of our community because of the very cool projects Lucas Lagoons does here and throughout the US. They are a point of pride. Platinum Winner- Lucas Lagoons / Gold Winner- Water Designs of Sarasota / Silver Winner- Coast to Coast Pools / Bronze WinnerWaterscapes Pools and Spas.
BEST KITCHEN DESIGNER Cabex Construction
You’ve likely spent more time in your kitchen in 2020 than you probably have the last five years. As we get used to cooking many of our meals at home, we look to our local kitchen designers to make it as beautiful and easy to navigate as possible. CABEX CONSTRUCTION preheated the competition to rank at Platinum, while AFFINITY KITCHEN AND BATH in Gold had customers raving about recent remodels finished during COVID. JLCS DESIGNS came in Silver, and SOLSTICE PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE’S designers rounded out the votes
for Bronze. An Honorable Mention goes out to Cucine Ricci and Main Street Kitchen and Bath. -BM Wendy Hacker (on Affinity): Our wonderful old Florida home hadn’t had a remodel in almost 20 years. Most of the walls were not exactly level, and our dog was not keen on outsiders with masks entering her domain. The Affinity Kitchen team came in, listened to our needs and wishes and made suggestions to assist us in getting the feeling that we wanted. They were professional, neat and very creative in the making everything work to our specifications. Even small items were not neglected. In hindsight, one of the best parts of dealing with Affinity was that there were no surprises: no add-on costs, no delays, everything was so straightforward. They are a really good company, and we are very pleased with their work, and our updated kitchen is a joy. Michael O’Donnell (on Affinity): As a former cabinet designer myself, I found Affinity to be extremely competent in both design and production and post-installation adjustments. We have a 1950s mid-century modern home with several non-standard construction conditions that Affinity was able to deal with seamlessly. Tiffany, the owner, her staff and her installers are all first-rate and willing to take extra time to get everything perfect. I could not be more pleased. Mark Channon (on JLCS Designs): These guys were head and shoulders above the rest when it came to designing ideas and innovation. Coupled
with that, their products and levels of service were impeccable. I would recommend it to anyone looking to remodel or to build a new kitchen. Platinum Winner- Cabex Construction / Gold WinnerAffinity Kitchen and Bath / Silver JLCS Designs / Bronze Winner- Solstice Planning and Architecture.
Yellow House Cabinetry Design and detail make all the difference with cabinetry, and these companies ticked all the right boxes with our readers. YELLOW HOUSE CABINETRY built their way up to Platinum with SARASOTA ARCHITECTURAL WOODWORKING
close on their heels coming in at Gold. Putting the extraordinary in Silver was CABINETS EXTRAORDINAIRE SARASOTA and fabulous in Bronze was CAMPBELL CABINETRY DESIGNS. Other favorites of readers were Honorable Mentions Yoder Homes and Remodeling, More Space Place, Main Street Kitchen and Bath, Albrecht Cabinetry and Progressive Cabinetry. -AC Martha Barfield (on Yellow House Cabinetry): They pay attention to detail and design according to your needs with the latest styles in mind. Katie gives the professional approach with a caring, down-home feel. Margaret Bell (on Sarasota Architectural): Their attention to detail and excellent customer service. Pablo Vannucci
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(on Cabinets Extraordinaire): Best quality in cabinets in the Suncoast area. Sheryl Hernly (on Campbell): Many of my clients have used Campbell Cabinetry for their kitchen, baths and any areas where cabinets are needed. Their design team and selections far surpass others, and their wide variety of style choices and colors can’t be beaten. They do a great job from start to finish. Tammy Flanagan (on More Space Place): Not only do they build a quality office, closet or Murphy bed, but they are a great company to work for. Great business to work with and for with quality construction and products. Platinum Winner- Yellow House Cabinetry / Gold Winner- Sarasota Architectural Woodworking / Silver Winner- Cabinets Extraordinaire Sarasota/ Bronze Winner- Campbell Cabinetry Designs.
BEST GRANITE/COUNTERTOPS Affinity Kitchen and Bath
A backdrop to our kitchen antics, countertops are the centerpiece of our day-to-day life. They hold our teacups and bowls of fruit, and they deserve their chance to shine in Platinum was AFFINITY KITCHEN AND BATH, while TILE AND STONE OF ITALY scooted into Gold. Our readers didn’t take Silver for granite and voted in DESIGNER MARBLE AND GRANITE, while ICONIC STONE AND DESIGN earned Bronze.-AC Jakob Hart (on Affinity) : Tiffany and her team at Affinity Kitchen and Bath are the best. Kerri Plazza (on Tile and Stone of Italy): Customer
service is outstanding. The great selection of tile and the finished product (countertops) are great. Felisha Pacheco (on Designer Marble and Granite): Great selections to choose from, and they are great about helping to source the right material. Katerina Pluhacek Garcia (on ICONIC Stone Design): Fantastic family-owned company. Their countertops are professionally crafted and use some of the highest quality stones. They produce truly stunning results. Platinum Winner- Affinity Kitchen and Bath / Gold Winner- Tile and Stone of Italy / Silver Winner- Designer Marble and Granite/ Bronze Winner- ICONIC Stone and Design.
BEST HVAC/AC COMPANY Tri-County Air
Whether keeping cool in the summer or warm that one week of Florida winter, a trusted HVAC company proves central to a comfortable life. Our readers blew high praise in the direction of TRICOUNTY AIR, which rose to the top of our survey results and won Platinum. Support also rolled in for D&D AIR CONDITIONING in Gold place. VETERAN AIR HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING streamed in as Silver while SEAN MCCUTCHEON’S AIR CONDITIONING AND HEATING coasted into
Bronze. Other Honorable Mention winners include Aqua Plumbing and Air, Cool Today, Badger Bob’s, Wentzel’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Custom Air and Plumbing, Gator Air Conditioning, Air Clean of
Florida and Countryside Plumbing, Del-Air Heating and Air Conditioning and Envirotec Air -JO Joanna Cinco (on Tri-County): Quality care of equipment and service extraordinaire. And don’t forget the great cookies. Gall Duvall (on D&D Air): They did work at my house and were very professional and quick in resolving my A/C issue within hours. Darbi Bossman (on D&D Air): I appreciate that I can actually talk to a human pretty quickly, and that person knows more than just how to schedule appointments. And, if she doesn’t know, she is good at connecting me to the correct person, who is often available as well. In so many other places, you feel like just another customer that has to fight their way through the queue in hopes of talking to somebody that has a clue. Lee-Un Chung (on D&D Air): D&D Air Conditioning is strong on A/C service calls. I have relied on D&D Air Conditioning since the 1990s. Platinum Winner- Tri-County Air / Gold Winner- D&D Air Conditioning / Silver Winner- Veteran Air Heating and Air Conditioning / Bronze WinnerSean McCutcheon’s Air Conditioning and Heating.
BEST ROOFING CONTRACTOR Roofing by Curry
Who rose literally to the top of our survey on the region’s best roofers? Our readers refer you to Platinum winner ROOFING BY CURRY, one of the many regional experts keeping area attics dry. But plenty of praise came in for Gold roofer AVERY
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ROOF SERVICES. FLORIDA SOUTH ROOFING AND SHEET METAL nailed down the votes for Silver place, while SOUTHEAST ROOFING CONSULTANTS tamped down the support to
make it to Bronze. Honorable Mention wins go to Approved Roofing and Havath Roofing. -JO Joe Dzialo (on Avery Roof Service): Avery installed the roof on our new contemporary home on Longboat Key. Every aspect of the installation was First Class. Since the installation, Avery comes out every year to conduct a roof inspection. Everything has been perfect. Kathryn Chesley (on Florida South Roofing): They are efficient, knowledgeable and helpful. Christine Clary (on Southeast Roofing): We have used Southeast Roofing for many years. They always do a good job, are honest and fair in their pricing. I highly recommend them. Platinum WinnerRoofing by Curry / Gold Winner- Avery Roof Services / Silver Winner- Florida South Roofing and Sheet Metal / Bronze Winner- Southeast Roofing Consultants.
BEST SOLAR CONTRACTOR Solar Direct
Readers ready to harness the sun’s energy had no problem finding professionals to install panels on their homes. But which solar contractor should you trust to not only hook the power upright but make sure you make the soundest financial decisions? SOLAR DIRECT stood out in our survey at Platinum, with more readers shining the light on their surveys
than any competitors. In Gold was MIRASOL FAFCO SOLAR. Meanwhile, SOLAR SOURCE picked up enough heat to make the podium in Silver. -JO Platinum Winner- Solar Direct / Gold Winner- Mirasol Fafco Solar / Silver Winner- Solar Source.
BEST LIGHTING STORE Franklin Lighting
See your space in a whole new light, just by replacing your old, dull lamps with some upscale ambiance. Platinum goes to FRANKLIN LIGHTING. LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE keeps its Gold place rank again this year, and BEE RIDGE LIGHTING moves up a notch to Silver this go around. Meanwhile, LYTEWORKS flick its switch to Bronze. Honorable Mention goes to Coastal Serenity Design and Lighting. –BM Sheryl Hernly (on Light Up Your Life): My clients have used them on many occasions and are thrilled with the selections and wide variety they have to offer. The beautiful lighting they have is like exquisite jewelry. It’s a must-see when you are looking for lighting. Sonja Hobbsa (on Lyteworks): They have the best lighting and customer service, hands down. I have purchased lighting, numerous modern fans and even artwork from them and have never been disappointed. Platinum Winner- Franklin Lighting / Gold WinnerLight Up Your Life / Silver Winner- Bee Ridge LIghting / Bronze Winner- Lyteworks.
BEST BATHROOM FIXTURES The Plumbing Place
Perhaps not the most glamorous category in the competition but indubitably an underrated one. We all need efficient bathroom fixtures to get the job done and keep the water running. THE PLUMBING PLACE successfully remodeled enough bathrooms to show up at Platinum while FERGUSON BATH KITCHEN AND LIGHTING GALLERY lit up the competition for Gold. GORMAN COMPANY earned Silver, and HYDROLOGIC DISTRIBUTION COMPANY’S fixtures bolted the Bronze spot. Light Up Your Life assembled voter’s praise for Honorable Mention. –BM Sonja Hobbs (on Plumbing Place): I worked extensively with Kim to re-outfit my kitchen and bathrooms during the extensive remodel of my 1960s home. Carrie Riley (on Gorman): Gorman’s Gallery reflects the latest concepts from designers around the world, including innovative faucets, tubs, showers, toilets and more. Their passionate sales consultants have years of experience and expertise and give personalized attention to each and every customer, ensuring that no detail is left uncovered. Platinum Winner- The Plumbing Place / Gold Winner- Ferguson Bath Kitchen and Lighting Gallery / Silver Winner- Groman Company / Bronze Winner- Hydrologic Distribution Company
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ARTS &CULTURE BEST GALLERY
Ringling College Galleries RINGLING COLLEGE GALLERIES adds another
trophy to the case, taking the Platinum spot on the strength of their diverse and ever-changing exhibitions. The eclectic artist-owned ART UPTOWN GALLERY takes the Gold, with STATE OF THE ARTS brushing Silver and Bronze winner CHASEN GALLERY keeping themselves well in the mix with a combination of big-name national artists and locally grown talent. Honorable Mentions include downtown staples Dabbert Gallery and Galleria Silecchia. And a blown kiss goes to Lipstick Lex for making the cut without even using traditional paints. –AF Mike and Cathie (on Ringling College): It was uniquely fun and offered much insight into the creative spirit. To us, the galleries are the pearl in the oyster of art college life at The Ringling College of Art & Design that we all should take time to appreciate. Mike Powell (on State of the Arts): Both owners of State of the Arts Galleries were so helpful. Very kind and very easy to work with. Our house is so much more beautiful now that we have several pieces from their galleries. Platinum Winner- Ringling College Galleries / Gold Winner- Art Uptown Gallery / Silver Winner- State of the Arts / Bronze Winner- Chasen Gallery.
BEST ARTS GROUP TO GO VIRTUAL Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
The accolades keep piling up for Sarasota’s homegrown WESTCOAST BLACK THEATRE TROUPE as they take Platinum prize for their pivot to virtual programming, including some hilarious cameos from Nate Jacobs’ alter-ego, Aunt Rudele. MUSIC COMPOUND gets Gold marks for its comprehensive virtual educational programming, garnering praise from parents in the region. Silver winner VENICE SYMPHONY and Bronze winner ART CENTER SARASOTA round out the top four spots for bringing classical music and visual exhibitions right to people’s homes. Let’s Create Art receives an Honorable Mention for their educational children’s programming. –AF Catherine Seress (on Westcoast Black Theatre): WBTT has had a dynamic response to the pandemic, quickly creating virtual and sociallydistanced outdoor productions for the public. It was the speed at which they have moved, the skill and technology they have brought quickly and efficiently that makes them stand out so much. Dr. Katherine Fonte (on Music Compound): Words cannot express how wonderful Music Compound has been for our teenage son. The teachers make learning a child-centered and fun experience. I highly recommend Music Compound and its talented instructors. For my son, it was a life-
changing experience. We love you all at Music Compound. Platinum Winner- Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe / Gold Winner- Music Compound / Silver Winner- Venice Symphony / Bronze WinnerArt Center Sarasota.
The Ringling Museum of Art The past, present and future all look bright for THE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART as they continue their reign as the most celebrated museum in the region. MOTE MARINE LABORATORY AND AQUARIUM
makes a splash in Gold but looks poised to challenge The Ringling once its new facility opens its doors in a couple of years. Finally, Silver winner DISCOVER SARASOTA TOURS and Bronze winner SARASOTA ART MUSEUM both finish on the podium by celebrating Sarasota itself as a prized piece of history. Honorable Mentions go to the colorful and whacky Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature and Sarasota Classic Car Museum for their celebration of internal combustion. –AF John Covell (on The Ringling): The Ringling is not just another art museum; it is a uniquely Sarasota museum, focusing not only on fine arts but also on Ringling Bros. Circus, which is intricately woven into the history of this community. The depths of its collections and the qualifications of the staff set it
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apart, too, and it is simply a great way to spend one’s day in Sarasota. Kendra Cross (on Discover Sarasota Tours): Discover Sarasota has displayed innovation, creativity, and proactivity when faced with the challenges of the pandemic and its restrictions. Owner Tammy is a resourceful visionary who dug deep to keep moving forward. Platinum Winner- The
as young adults and feel gratitude toward their generation. Dan Barzel (on Shifting Landscape): An intriguing and calming sculpture that soothes the mind with ever-changing colors that seem to match your mood against an interesting and artfully done structure. It makes my day to see this sculpture and to experience it. Platinum Winner-
Ringling Museum of Art / Gold Winner- Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium / Silver Winner- Discover Sarasota Tours / Bronze Winner- Sarasota Art Museum.
“Unconditional Surrender” / Gold Winner- Art Ovation’s “Shifting Landscape” / Silver Winner“Spread Love” series by Brandon Thrift.
BEST PUBLIC SCULPTURE
BEST VIRTUAL EVENT OF 2020
Gala for V Foundation
Despite the polarizing connotations in its subject matter, nostalgia triumphs in Platinum as “UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER” continues to cement itself as an icon of the region. Art Ovation’s “SHIFTING LANDSCAPE” takes the Gold, with many voters celebrating the grace and subtlety of its many facets. Despite its existence in two dimensions, Brandon Thrift’s “SPREAD LOVE” series slides into Silver place as comfortably as it did into Instagram feeds across the nation. –AF
The philanthropy never stops for Dick Vitale and his annual GALA FOR V FOUNDATION fundraiser, baby! SARASOTA CONTEMPORARY DANCE brought movement, grace and high-technology to its virtual quinceañera programming, while SARASOTA ORCHESTRA’S “Music Moves Us” opened a window into the artist in isolation as it shared touching videos of how its musicians made do while stuck at home. SARASOTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE made sure to celebrate the pluck and adaptability of local businesses with its virtual Small Business Awards ceremony. The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance Sandies and Southern Atelier with Anne Abbot both get a thumbs up on Zoom for Honorable Mentions. –AF
Boy, do we miss the era before “socially distanced” was a coined term of everyday conversation. We fondly reminisce of the large local events and annual community gatherings that many of us looked forward to year after year. Our voters were not shy about voting for the festival they can’t wait to attend again. The Sarasota-Manatee Original’s ever-popular FORKS & CORKS held at The Ringling Museum attracted local foodies and winos to vote big for the Platinum. GIVING HUNGER THE BLUES, hosted at the Sarasota Polo Grounds, placed in Gold and THUNDER BY THE BAY’s die heart motorists revved their engines for Silver. Asolo Repertory Theatre’s rendition of SHAKESPEARE AT SELBY BOTANICAL GARDENS has past attendees raving for Bronze, while the castle sculpting of Siesta Key Crystal Classic packed enough sand to render an Honorable Mention. –BM
Muriel Mayers (on SCD): Artistic Director Leymis Bolanos Wilmott was able to use her innate
Herbert Sauer (on Giving Hunger the Blues): A fabulous event with many headliners. It’s also a
Mary-Ellin Kirkwood (on Unconditional Surrender): As the daughter of a WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veteran, the statue reminds me of joy and peace after hardships endured, the determination and the shared sacrifices made by every American on the home front and our military overseas.Itmakesmesmiletoremembermyparents
creativity to adapt to the pandemic and stream the November performance, thus continuing Sarasota Contemporary Dance’s mission to bring cutting edge dance to the community. Platinum WinnerGala for V Foundation / Gold Winner- Sarasota Contemporary Dance / Silver Winner- Sarasota Orchestra’s “Music Moves Us” / Bronze WinnerSarasota Chamber’s “Small Business Awards”
BEST FESTIVAL YOU CAN’T WAIT TO ATTEND AGAIN Forks and Corks
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great charity. The director, Peter Anderson, works tirelessly on creating the best event anywhere in the area each year. Jerome Chesley (on Shakespeare at Selby): Seeing the Asolo Conservatory Actors’ Program is always a treasure. Couple that with a bayside venue, manicured gardens and in front of a historic building, what’s not to love? I enjoy bringing together the many gems of this area: theatre, visual arts, music, dance, architecture and others. How fortunate we all are that they’re all in our city and we look forward to more performances. That’s why we live in Sarasota. Platinum WinnerForks and Corks / Gold Winner- Giving Hunger the Blues / Silver Winner- Thunder by the Bay / Bronze WinnerShakespeare at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
FAMILY &CHILDREN BEST CHILDRENS ATTRACTION
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium There are only so many weekend trips to the beaches and parks before your kiddies begin to grow bored and want some enhanced entertainment. The Best Childrens Attraction proved a popular voting category with many wildlife institutions and environmental attractions named and acclaimed. MOTE MARINE LABORATORY AND AQUARIUM once again breached into Platinum place, SARASOTA JUNGLE GARDENS
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flamingoed into Gold, BIG CAT HABITAT roared into Silver as a place for the kids to run wild and MARIE SELBY BOTANICAL GARDENS blossomed into Bronze place. Honorable Mentions go to The Children’s Garden, Circus Arts Conservatory, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy and Suncoast Science Center. -BM Jason Laureano (on Jungle Gardens): Classic Florida attraction, children can feed the animals, learn about birds and other native creatures in their natural habitat. Laurie Copp (on Big Cat Habitat): Big Cat helps educate children about the necessity of helping endangered species in a fun way. Marlane Wurzbach (Selby Gardens): It’s the one place in Sarasota I’ve found where children can actively engage and play with the features, not just passively observe. Kids enjoy scaling the wooden rope bridge, swinging from the banyan tree, trying on costumes in the play huts, playing the musical chimes and enjoying the waterslide on weekends. Then stopping for a take-out lunch to enjoy in the garden. Platinum Winner- Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium / Gold Winner- Sarasota Jungle Gardens / Silver Winner- Big Cat Habitat / Bronze Winner- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL
Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Parents flocked to the polls to share where their kids
love to attend private school. CARDINAL MOONEY CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL made an impressively strong Platinum standing coming in at the top, while OUT OF DOOR ACADEMY came up close behind in Gold. SAINT STEPHEN’S EPISCOPAL SCHOOL ranked Silver, and NEW GATE captured the Bronze. Sarasota Christian School and St. Martha’s Catholic School also garnered a notable amount of votes worthy of Honorable Mentions. -BM Gwendolyn Katz (on Cardinal Mooney): To have a faith-based school to teach kindness, respect and fundamentals of life is an important tool at these high school years for any teenager. Elizabeth Laureano (on Cardinal Mooney): Principal Ben Hopper has implemented an outstanding strategic plan to support the academic structure, building infrastructure, and safety approaches. On top of that, the athletic facility upgrades have impacted all sports. Lisa Hardiman (on Out of Door): When we moved to Florida, our daughter started at ODA in 9th grade, it was amazing then, but the way the whole school has handled the faculty without missing a beat has been truly remarkable. Not only do they care about our kiddos, they actually care about the quality of education they give too. Thomas Murphy (on Out of Door): Our children have attended ODA since Pre-K. The school focuses on the whole child, which differs from other competitive schools in the area as a balance is strived for in academics, sports, arts, and
character development. We could not be happier. Nadia Bowen (on NewGate): My toddler daughter started NewGate this year, and it’s been wonderful. I love the fact that the kids spend most of their time outdoors playing, tending to their garden and exploring nature. The Ashton campus is quaint. The classroom numbers are small. The teachers are warm and highly educated. The school community is very supportive and constantly striving to make the school even better. Out of all the schools and daycares I’ve toured in both NYC and Sarasota, it’s truly the best, hands down. Platinum WinnerCardinal Mooney Catholic High School / Gold WinnerOut of Door Academy / Silver Winner- Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School / Bronze Winner- NewGate School.
BEST PRESCHOOL Childrens First The pandemic has been tough on education, to say the least–school teachers and students
having to adjust to an all-new schooling system. These institutions were pointed out as handling restrictions and guidelines with the utmost care and attention, with little one’s health and safety a top priority. CHILDRENS FIRST got an A+ in finishing in Platinum, FORTY CARROTS FAMILY CENTER crafting for Gold, LEARNING ACADEMY OF SARASOTA pledged allegiance to Silver, ST MARTHA’S CATHOLIC SCHOOL ranked Bronze and an Honorable Mention goes out to Lily School for Child Development. -BM Platinum Winner- Childrens First / Gold Winner- Forty Carrots Family Center / Silver Winner- Learning Academy of Sarasota / Bronze Winners- St. Martha’s Catholic School.
BEST PEDIATRIICAN Dr. Vicki Skidmore When your tots aren’t feeling hot, these pediatricians are the ones to call. Coming in at Platinum is DR. VICKI SKIDMORE. Our readers voted in WEISS
PEDIATRIC CARE for Gold while Silver belongs to MEYER PEDIATRICS, DR. TED MEYER. Head to our Bronze winner COMPREHENSIVE CHILDCARE ASSOCIATES. Kids with coughs can also turn to
Honorable Mentions, Paradise Pediatrics, Dr. Suzanne Southerland, another favorite. -AC Tina Mroczkowski (on Dr. Vicki Skidmore): She is a truly skilled physician. She and her staff are an excellent team, and they work together to give your child the best medical advice and help. We have been blessed to have Dr. Skidmore as our children’s pediatrician. Laurie Krampits (on Comprehensive Childcare Associates): Dr. Carroll has been my 10-year-old son’s pediatrician ever since he was born. They have always helped me when I have had questions or concerns. And you know how kids always get sick on the weekends, or they wake up, continued on page 107
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BEST OF SRQ 2021 TOP 12 DENTISTS Who should you trust to operate miniature mining equipment in your mouth? Look no further than these Top 12 dental practitioners, as identified by the pearly white smiles of SRQ’s voters. The TOP 12 DENTISTS SRQ voters trust are: MICHAEL R. DOROCIAK, DDS MAGD- SARASOTA FAMILY DENTAL, DR. CASTELLANO, BAYVIEW DENTAL ASSOCIATES, EXCEPTIONAL DENTISTRY OF SARASOTA, SARASOTA SMILE DESIGN, MICHELLE SCALA, DMD, PA, LAKEWOOD RANCH FAMILY AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY, SRQ DENTISTRY, FAMILY DENTISTRY, DR. ADAM STILL, SMILE SARASOTA, DR. CORI S. HVIDEBERG, DMD, SARASOTA DENTAL GROUP, SIMPLE SMILES and DR. TIMOTHY G. HERRING, DMD. -BM
Dawn Santillo (on Bayview Dental): Dr. Castellano actually listened to what was important to me with regards to repairing my damaged teeth, made suggestions on the best options available for the short term and long term, and we put together an affordable plan that works for me. He is kind, compassionate and skilled in his work. His office staff is wonderful as well. Laszlo de Simon (on Exceptional Dentistry): Dr. Thomas T. Doan is a true “artist” in what he does. I am very fortunate to have found him and even more grateful for his “exceptional” work. They really do live up to their name. Yolanda Nash (on Sarasota Smile): Great loving staff and Dr. Back is the best! Kristi Hoskinson (on Dr. Michelle Scala): “I love going to the dentist.” says no one. Right? However, if you are a patient here, you will not mind going. The staff makes you feel like family. They are so caring and patient. They take care of you so that you do not dread that upcoming appointment. You know you are in good hands. Loretta Visconti (on Family Dentistry): Dr. Leonard is the best. I’ve been going to the office for 10 years now. Once I chipped a front tooth, and he came in on a Saturday to fix it. So thoughtful. CJ Hopkins (on Dr. Adam Still): Dr. Adam Still and his dedicated team at Smile Sarasota not only treat you with respect and professionalism but welcome you as part of their family. Whether having a simple cleaning or a same-day crown, their services are timely and efficient. Even with the realities of COVID, the office has and will continue to ensure that the rooms have the latest safety measures intact. srq magazine_ APR21 live local | 99
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THANK YOU FOR VOTING US AS BEST DENTIST! EXPE R I E N C E LUXU RY D E N TA L S E R VI C E S I N S A R A S OTA
Dental Implants | Dental Crowns
Dentures | Root Canal
3800 CLARK ROAD, SARASOTA , FL 34233
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EXCEPTIONAL DENTISTRY OF SARASOTA Drs. Doan, Suarez, and Cole provide the ultimate in personalized, comprehensive cosmetic and restorative dental care using the very latest in modern digital technology. Whether it is a simple procedure to the most complex, our team can deliver precise and pain-free care where integrity will always come first.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE THAT SETS YOU APART? PASSION. We absolutely love what we do every day because not only are we passionate about the art and science of dentistry, but also level of engagement with each and every one of our patients. Being the best at something requires the passion to achieve the highest of excellence from our customer service to our clinical skills. From the moment of your first phone call, our team will take every step to ensure that all of your concerns are taken care of to the finest details. We make continuous investment in the latest digital technologies and education that provides us the flexibility to do same day dentistry or comprehensive restorative interdisciplinary dentistry with utmost care. At the end of the day, it is the passion for what we do that allows our patients feel that they are well taken care of in our unique dental family.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? PEOPLE. The Business of Dentistry is not just about teeth. It is about the connection to people in our care. Whether it is relieving pain or restoring a beautiful smile, it is about engagement to the ones that we are in service to. We love it when we can be a partner in someone’s healthcare and to achieve their goals. When we do, everyone wins.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE RECOGNIZED BY SRQ READERS AS TOP DENTISTS? PURPOSE. We are so grateful to have all three exceptional doctors in our practice to achieve this accolade. Being recognized by those who are under our care and from those who have seen our work in the community, we are truly humbled and honored. Each day, we treat one patient at a time and giving them our fullest attention. When we are voted to be the “Best of SRQ
Exceptional Dentistry of Sarasota
Local”, it is a validation that we have a made a difference in
1999 Lincoln Drive, Suite 102, Sarasota, FL
someone’s life. This is what matters and gives our team,
P (941) 365-4418
Linda, Karen, Suzanne, Taylor J, Rachel, Tiffany, Lindsey,
Taylor G, Knute, April, and Doina, purpose.
www.ExceptionalDentists.com RQ MAGAZINE ~S ~
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BAYVIEW DENTAL BayView Dental’s mission is to provide world-class general, cosmetic and implant dentistry to the local community. With 8 locations from St Petersburg, FL to Venice, BayView Dental strives to improve oral health and provide exceptional, affordable dental care to as many people as possible emphasizing the importance of preventative and maintenance care for whole-body wellness. • Crown & Bridge • Cosmetic Veneers • Dental Implants • Invisalign & Clear Correct • Teeth Whiteneing • Root canals • Fillings & Bonding • Extractions WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE THAT SETS YOU APART?
Smile@BayViewDental.com | To find the location nearest to you, please go to: BayViewDental.com We accept most dental insurance plans.
BayView Dental has multiple locations which is convenient for our patients to get dental treatment when they need it. Our practice offers all phases of general, cosmetic and implant dentistry and our dentists are experienced in the most advanced dental procedures and technology.
LAKEWOOD RANCH FAMILY AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY Dr. Michelle Scala, Dr. Brandy Rubinski, and Dr. Jensen Bouton, with 50 years of combined experience, offer mastery in Cosmetic Dentistry. Their 5 Star Dental Professional Team improve smiles with Advanced Smile Design, Studio Photography & 3-D Digital Dental Engineering. Relax and enjoy a comfortable custom spa-like atmosphere. They will customize your smile & facial aesthetics, to bring about your very best features. Health, family and artistry in mind, you will appreciate this World Wide Dental Experience !
Lakewood Ranch Family and Cosmetic Dentistry 8430 Enterprise Cir., Suite 100 Smile@BayViewDental.com | BayViewDental.com
Lakewood Ranch, FL P (941) 907-4777 lakewoodranchsmiles.com
RQ MAGAZINE ~S ~
Above, from le to right: Jensen Bouton DMD | Michelle Scala DMD | Brandy Rubinski DMD)
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WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE THAT SETS YOU APART? What is unique about our
practice is that Dr. Lirio and his team understands how people need to hear information put in a respectful way that they can understand. Going to the dentist is like going to a mechanic who is telling you what is wrong with your car – we both talk to you in a way that sounds like were speaking a foreign language! Before Dr. Lirio became a dentist, he was a nurse. As a nurse he learned about the importance of listening to people, helping them feel comfortable and how to respectfully communicate in a way that they can understand complicated information. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I am a family dentist. I have found that being a family dentist does not mean that I “work” with families, but rather I have the privilege of becoming a part of the families I work with. In a way, it is both a blessing and a curse. We celebrate babies being born, graduations, marriages, and other wonderful life events. We also feel the “gut punch” when our families experience illness, injury, and loss. Other than meeting my wife and having a family of my own, becoming a family dentist is the best thing to ever happen to me.
“WE’RE HERE TO HELP PEOPLE BY DOING DENTISTRY IN A FAMILY-FRIENDLY, COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT. WE’RE NOT HERE TO JUST DO DENTISTRY.” 1878 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota (941) 952-3476 | SRQDentistry.com Photo Credit: Dr. Lirio
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2021 Best of SRQ Local Competition Methodology Every year, we invite our astute readers to first nominate locally-owned businesses and individuals they believe are worthy of Best Of recognition in restaurants, dining, food, home and design, philanthropy real estate, consumer services, professional services, community-wide leadership, healthy, beauty and wellness. In January, we invite our readers, local businesses and the community at large to join us in celebrating our Live Local. Love Local Mission by voting for their favorites, culminating in the buzzworthy special “Best of SRQ Local” awards feature published in the April 2021 edition of SRQ Magazine. Only locally-owned establishments may be nominated for the “Best of SRQ Local” Readers’ Competition, e.g. independent restaurants and locally-owned companies and boutiques. A select number of locally-owned franchises are also considered. Limited to one ballot per person. Readers are asked to register their ballot with their name, address and email. Ballots submitted without an email verification cannot be counted.Incomplete ballots with too few votes overall or those with votes only in 2 to 3 categories will not be accepted. We hope to invite you to an in-person Best of SRQ Local Party later this year to celebrate the winners! Thank you for being a part of Live Local. Love Local!
BEST OF SRQ 2020 TOP 12 REALTORS® Real estate certainly found its stride during the pandemic this last year, with homeowners taking full advantage of either selling their existing homes and/or finding newer, larger houses to move into. Allow us to introduce you to the Top 12 Readers Favorite Real Estate Agents showing the best of what the regional housing market has to offer: JOSEPH MCDONALD, RYAN SKRZYPKOWSKI, DARREN DOWLING, BRANDON HAENEL, JACODY SWOR, LAUREN PEARSON, BRIAN LOEBKER, ROGERS MOORE, JASON D’AGOSTINO, DIANE FOGO HARTER, DENISE WEGESEND CONRAD and DIANNE ANDERSON . -BM
Bryan Balak (on Darren Dowling): Darren was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly whilst navigating the market to find our dream home. I’d highly recommend him. LeeAnn Swor (on Jacoby Swor): Honest, hardworking, always finds the right properties for me. Jerome Chesley (on Laura Pearson): Helpful, knowledgeable, fun, smart. Dave and Pat Dabbert (on Rogers Moore): Very honest and reliable. Matt Seguin (on Ryan Skrzypkowski): Ryan Skrzypkowski is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. His enthusiasm for life, and Sarasota, is contagious. He works hard and is an amazing professional. srq magazine_ APR21 live local | 103
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DARREN DOWLING I began my real estate career in England when I was 18 years old and expanded my domestic transactions to include international properties and land. Sarasota is the place where my passion for real estate was reignited, but no matter where my career has taken me, my passion for this industry has been the common, constant thread. It’s apparent in every aspect of what I do — along with my tenacity and determination that my clients achieve the highest levels of success.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR
set expectations. Homes are selling
BUSINESS THAT SETS YOU APART?
fast, so it’s crucial a seller picks an
At Beyond Realty, we provide
agent that knows how to market
comprehensive services reliant on
and also prepare a home for
innovative marketing, attention to
sale as well as being a strong and
detail, and — most importantly —
a personal approach that fosters long-term relationships.
WHAT YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT
BEST ADVICE FOR SOMEONE
results! I really love the interaction
LOOKING TO BUY OR SELL A
with customers and because I’m
PROPERTY IN THE CURRENT REAL
competitive, rising to the challenge
ESTATE MARKET? Regardless of if
and going above and beyond to
you are looking to buy or sell, it is
either get their home sold for the
crucial to sit down and consult with
best price, or finding a home that
a knowledgeable licensed profes-
they will enjoy living in.
YOUR JOB? For me it’s all about
sional. Everyone’s needs are differ-
“FOR ME IT’S ALL ABOUT GETTING THE RIGHT RESULTS FOR MY CLIENTS!”
ent. For buyers, my main top tip
RECOGNIZED BY SRQ READERS AS
financing asap, get pre-qualified and
A TOP REALTOR? I am very humbled
have all your ducks in a row ready
and delighted. Being recognized by SRQ readers as a Top Realtor for a second year in a row, it makes all the hard work, and striving to give the very best service to my customers worthwhile.Being trusted as a guide with such responsibility makes the endless hours of hard work rewarding.
to make an offer. It’s super competitive right now, the most organized and qualified buyer will always win.
The Dowling Group
For sellers, its important to go over
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE
is to get with a lender if you need
the goals of the sale. I like to cover
M (941) 204-0493
the two contracts we have in Florida
5 S. Gulfstream Ave
and educate the seller on them. It’s
Sarasota, FL 34236
an important process and helps
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JOSEPH MCDONALD As a Florida native, I know first-hand how special it is to call the Gulf Coast home. Sarasota can be characterized as a place where culture meets diversity, surrounded by enormous beauty and a thriving energy. I enjoy introducing the area to clients, educating them, and sharing my experience of what it is like to be born, raised, and live in such a culturally rich community.
MY ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
specialized in new construction,
was sparked by an early back-
eventually led me to Michael
ground in the hospitality industry
Saunders and Company. In
and four start-up businesses that
addition to general residential
took me to other states. Living
sales, I recently joined MSC New
away for a period of time helped me
Homes and Condominiums as
to even more appreciate Sarasota,
Sales Associate for Risdon on 5th
as my heart was always drawn
– a premier condo development
back to my home town. My love
in the Historic Rosemary District.
of SRQ, coupled with my business
This unique opportunity allows me
experience and skills, led me to
to work with all clients – buyers,
pursue a career in real estate
re-sale and new construction. My
after moving back to the area.
home is located in Gillespie Park
Being known for genuine
“I’M HONORED TO HAVE BEEN AWARDED TOP REALTOR IN SRQ MAGAZINE’S BEST OF SRQ LOCAL COMPETITION.”
where I enjoy downtown offerings
service, honesty, reliability, custom-
of arts, dining, and community
er service, and a passion for real
events in addition to volunteering
estate earned me the distinction
and giving back to this wonderful
of being voted one of “Sarasota’s
community we call home.
Top 12 Realtors” by SRQ Magazine.
I’m honored to have
Multiple years as a sales agent has
been awarded Top Realtor in
taught me that providing first-class
SRQ Magazine’s “Best of SRQ”
service to my clients in order to find
Local Competition for the past
the best fit for their needs is not
several years and am dedicated
just a goal – it’s a requirement. Prior
to being your local realtor
experience with Premier Sotheby’s
for years to come!
and Neal Communities, where I
Joseph McDonald Michael Saunders & Company M (941) 375-9646 1605 Main Street Sarasota, FL 34236 email@example.com josephmcdonlad.michaelsaunders.com
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RYAN SKRZYPKOWSKI I feel unbelievably grateful to be able to do this in the place that I love—with the people that I love, serving clients that we love. I want my clients to be able to refer me to their closest friends and family members and know that they will be taken care of.” Ryan considers it an honor for he and his team to be recognized by SRQ Magazine readers as a Top Realtor® for the fourth year running. Thank you, thank you!
RYAN SKRZYPKOWSKI HAS
a whole. Along with numerous five
BECOME RECOGNIZED both locally
star Zillow, Google and Facebook
and nationally as an innovative
reviews, their clients boast of their
influencer within the real estate in-
energetic, thorough and profession-
dustry. We couldn’t be more proud
al approach that focuses on making
of this talented group and the fact
the entire process personalized,
that the residents of Sarasota and
communicative and enjoyable!
Manatee County are able to utilize
“WE DON’T SET OUT TO MERELY SATISFY OUR CUSTOMERS, WE SET OUT TO DELIGHT THEM AND EXCEED ALL EXPECTATIONS.” RSTS Group
He believes that the community
such a quality service. This is the
of realtors have underdelivered on
fourth year that the RSTS Group
providing a service that is required
has been recognized within the Best
and expected by the consumer and
of SRQ - and they are absolutely
have been on a mission to change
worthy of the title again. Over the
that. This starts with employing
last four years, we have seen the
specific roles within their team so
group grow from Ryan and Theresa,
each team member is committed to
the husband and wife team, to the
being the best in a small part of the
powerhouse of 10 that operates
business, rather than one
the RSTS Group today.
agent trying to do it all.
2020 was another record-breaking
The RSTS team embraces
year for them, with sales at nearly
the latest technology to market
$55,000,000. As a Top Producer in
properties and target potential
Sarasota County, Ryan ranks at .03%
sellers and buyers along with
of all active agents for transactions
thought-leading digital strategies
by total volume. This growth in
to market properties. With a solid
production is fueled by his desire to
combination of professional archi-
improve their commitment to serve
tectural photography, video produc-
their customers and their contin-
tion, social media marketing, and
ued pursuit of raising the bar for
traditional marketing techniques,
themselves and for the industry as
no leaf is left unturned.
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate M (941) 500 3872 443 John Ringling Blvd. Ste F Sarasota, Florida rstsgroup.com
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and they are sick? They have a sick clinic in the morning, so if you call first thing, they can see you. All of the doctors, nurses and staff have always been great and caring. Katherine Leaver (on Paradise Pediatrics, Dr. Suzanne Southerland): Dr. Suzanne Southerland always takes the time to listen to any and all concerns I have about my children’s health. She is responsive and still conservative in her approach to treatment and does a wonderful job answering any questions my children have. I always feel like I can trust her to give my children the best possible care and to find highly qualified specialists for them when needed. Platinum Winner- Dr. Vicki Skidmore / Gold Winner- Weiss Pediatric Care / Silver Winner- Meyer Pediatrics / Bronze WinnerComprehensive Childcare Associates.
BEST DENTIST FOR KIDS Dr. Si McAninch
This year these dentists made quite an impression on our readers. Flossing into Platinum was DR. SI MCANINCH with quite a toothy lead, while SMILEWORKS KIDS DENTISTRY dazzled into Gold. Our readers had a sweet tooth for MARIBEL SANTOS-CORDERO DMD, who nabbed the Silver place spot and DR. MANAV MALIK, DMD for his Bronze spot win. Though they just missed out on the top four by the skin of their teeth, another Honorable Mention shows the molar the merrier was Lakewood Ranch Dental. -AC Katharine Vestal (on Dr. Si McAninch): I grew up going to his office, and now he takes care of my daughter. He is the consummate professional, and he spends time with each family. My daughter faced possible reconstructive surgery, but he helped us identify a cutting-edge orthodontist who provided a new technique (one of a handful in the nation to do so.) This saved my daughter from a painful, invasive surgery and allowed her the opportunity to develop her most beautiful and healthy smile. Jason Laureano (on SmileWorks Kids Dentistry): Four years ago, this was recommended to us and never disappoints. Great communication from the staff to the kids and parents. Jackie DiGioia (on Maribel Santos-Cordero DMD): Fabulous doctor and staff. Great environment. So caring. Platinum WinnerDr. Si McAninch / Gold Winner- Smileworks Kids Dentistry / Silver Winner- Maribel Santos-Cordero, DMD / Bronze Winner- Dr. Manav Malik, DMD.
BEST ORTHODONTIST FOR KIDS Freeman Orthodontics
Brace yourself—these were our readers’ favorites for Best Orthodontists this year. FREEMAN ORTHODONTICS knew the drill and was voted into Platinum place while VARONE ORTHODONTICS retained a close Gold win. In Silver, SCHINDEL ORTHODONTICS was crowned and DR. FRANK PAZULSKI, ABOVE AND BEYOND ORTHODONTICS, was mint to be Bronze. Honorable Mentions Carroll & Sutton Orthodontics and Moricz Orthodontics also left a smile on voters’ faces. -AC Melissa Tomasso Freeman (on Freeman Orthodontics): Super friendly and professional staff. The offices are welcoming and extremely
clean. They are always willing to work with my schedule and I continue to receive prompt service. I am thrilled to say Freeman Orthodontics has straightened with traditional braces both of my children’s teeth, as well as my husband’s, and now my teeth with Invisalign. We love Freeman Orthodontics. Michelle Keffer (on Schindel Orthodontics): Dr. Schindel and her staff have been great orthodontists to my kids. The staff is always so professional and courteous. I have recommended them to all of my friends and neighbors. Karen Mercurio (on Carroll & Sutton Orthodontics): After my daughter experienced horrible treatment from another office, Dr. Sutton and his office staff offered their expertise and compassion to help with the unexpected need for another round of braces. They truly are a gift. Platinum Winner- Freeman Orthodontics / Gold Winner- Varone Orthodontics / Silver Winner- Schindel Orthodontics / Bronze WinnerDr. Frank Pzulski of Above and Beyond Orthodontics.
BEST SCIENCE EXPERIENCE
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium Scientifically speaking, these spots had just the right chemistry with our readers to round out the top three picks for Best Science Experience. MOTE MARINE LABORATORY AND AQUARIUM was in their element and took home the top Platinum spot with our readers as the best place to make your brain bigger. In Gold place, SUNCOAST SCIENCE CENTER / FAULHABER FAB LAB showed they had the right formula for success. The DNA-definitely was a hit with the Silver winner THE BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE . -AC
Catherine Lafuente: (on Mote Marine): Is there any question? Mote is the best science destination we have. Christian M. Fischer (on Suncoast Science Center): Suncoast Science is a great place to learn and play. The Lab is incredibly well-equipped, and the staff is unbelievably dedicated. For kids and adults, this is simply the best place in Sarasota to go for fun, science and making friends. Catherine Ferrer (on The Bishop): I love The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature for what it does for both my family and our community as a whole. Their programming is top-notch, and my children are lucky to have this amazing resource right in our downtown. They explore every new exhibit and revisit their favorites, especially the manatee rescue, as often as we can. For the Bradenton community, the rebranding of the museum and its consistent excellence are putting Bradenton on the map with people interested in research, collaboration and interpretation. Platinum Winner- Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium / Gold Winner- Suncoast Science Center / Faulhaber Fab Lab / Silver WinnerThe Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
BEST PUBLIC PARK FOR KIDS Payne Park Circus Playground
Outdoor activities saved the day for many stir-crazy kids this year. Which parks bested the rest as the top picks for some fresh-air fun for our readers? For PAYNE PARK CIRCUS PLAYGROUND taking
the Platinum spot proved a walk in the park. Only a few steps behind was BAYFRONT PARK in Gold. In Silver place, URFER FAMILY PARK was a breath of fresh air and NATHAN BENDERSON PARK strolled into the Bronze spot. Other favorites to bike, run and fun were Honorable Mentions Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Heron’s Nest Nature Park. -AC Tammy Flanagan (on Payne Park ): My grandson loves to play when he comes to visit Grandma and Grandpa from Colorado. This park shouts “Sarasota” with its circus theme and great location. Well maintained and loads of fun for the kids. Diane Lane (on Bayfront Park): Open-air and on the bay. Does it get any better? Louise Cavanagh (on Urfer Family Park): My kids absolutely love this park; there’s something for everyone, places to picnic and trails to walk. Nancy Olson (on Nathan Benderson): It is the best park because not only is there an area for kids to play on their own equipment, but they can also walk or bike on the walking paths around the water with their family while getting great exercise. Platinum WinnerPayne Park Circus Playground / Gold WinnerBayfront Park / Silver Winner- Urfer Family Park / Bronze Winner- Nathan Benderson Park.
BEST PLACE FOR FAMILY CAMPING Myakka River State Park
Camping proves to be both a socially-distanced and satisfying break from quarantine, and with great weather year-round, there were plenty of spots to post up and relax. The race to Platinum was in-tents, but MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK won our readers over. Our Gold spot, SUN N FUN RV RESORT, is the perfect location to play all day then sleep like a log. But there’s S’more—OSCAR SCHERER STATE PARK took Silver for a place to gather around the fire to tell scary stories. -AC Catherine Ferrer (on Myakka): As relative newbies to camping and with two children, we were not exactly confident about a weekend stay in a tent, but everything about our experience at Myakka was fantastic! The online reservations were simple, instructions for guests were easy to follow, and the weekend was amazingly fun for everyone - parents and kids. We especially loved the canopy walk. Since this first foray into camping, we’ve gone a few other places and look forward to returning. Platinum Winner- Myakka River State Park / Gold Winner- Sun N Fun RV Resort / Silver Winner- Oscar Scherer State Park
BEST BEACH FOR KIDS Siesta Key Beach
Life is better in sandals, and that’s just something Floridians won’t flip-flop on. Residents and tourists alike are spoiled with seemingly endless beaches to pick from. SIESTA KEY BEACH had a tsunami of votes, riding the wave into Platinum. Our readers had a whale of a time at LIDO KEY BEACH, the Gold winner. Tide down to Silver was TURTLE BEACH, while readers are shore we’d also love Bronze winner BRADENTON BEACH and Honorable Mention Crescent Beach. -AC srq magazine_ APR21 live local | 107
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Kimberly Buggeln (on Siesta Key): Lots of room. Safe and away from the water. Outdoor showers, volleyball nets and beautiful sunsets with the drum circle. Jerome Chesley (on Lido Key): Safe, shallow and beautiful! Alejandra Valdesy (on Turtle Beach): Always plenty of space, and they have a cool playground. No deep hike to the water like Siesta, which is great when you have to carry stuff. Platinum Winner- Siesta Key Beach / Gold WinnerLido Key Beach / Silver Winner- Turtle Beach / Bronze Winner- Bradenton Beach.
Woodlands Early Childhood Center Kids are the future, and there’s no better way to ensure a great future than putting them in the hands of engaging and interesting early learning which is why our readers were so passionate about their picks for Best Local Daycare. Bringing up a baby is a breeze with these local favorites. WOODLANDS EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER is the top pick earning Platinum place, while PRIMROSE SCHOOL AT LAKEWOOD RANCH TOWN CENTER scored Gold. LILY SCHOOL FOR CHILD DEVELOPMENT comes in at Silver and THE LEARNING COTTAGE PRESCHOOL was named the Bronze champion. Readers also loved Honorable Mentions Faith Early Learning Center and Shining Stars Learning Center. -AC Martha Barfield (on Woodlands): My grandsons are getting the best of care at Woodland. They are happy to go and happy when they come home. That says a lot. Jason Laureano (on Primrose School): New location for this institution in Lakewood Ranch. Great staff. Brittany Bryant (on Lily School): The Lily School for Child Development is one of the only inclusive preschools in the area. The resources that they provide to children and families are unmatched. Not only do they provide educational services, but they also provide physical, occupational, speech and language and behavioral therapies. They host extracurricular activities such as yoga, Spanish, art and music. Best preschool in town, hands-down. Kristen Vento (on Learning Cottage): We switched our toddler to The Learning Cottage this past summer due to the current pandemic. The only thing I regret is not finding this school earlier. What initially impressed me the most during my tour was how immaculate the classrooms appeared. My daughter loves her teachers, and because of them, we have seen so much developmental growth in the nine months she has been in attendance. The staff truly pour their hearts into these kids, and it is so comforting knowing that my child is safe, loved and well taken care of while my husband and I are at work. Ariadna Loyo: (on Faith Early Learning Center): Awesome communication, organization, and daily activities. Tracy Fusillo: (on Shining Stars): Shining Stars Learning Center was an amazing experience for my son when he attended. They taught him to learn in different ways that made him a step above other students when he started kindergarten. Hats off to Dr. Sonja and her program as my son, Niko, still has 108 | srq magazine_ APR21 live local
fond memories of his time there. He is still an honor roll student to this day, and I attribute this to his mere beginnings at Shining Stars. Platinum WinnerWoodlands Early Childhood Center / Gold WinnerPrimrose School at Lakewood Ranch Town Center / Silver Winner- Lily School for Child Development/ Bronze Winner- The Learning Cottage Preschool.
BEST LOCAL TOY STORE Toy Lab The easiest way to instantly feel like a kid again? Take a trip to your local toy store. Suddenly you’re six years old, awestruck at the colors and shapes, noises and shelves of toys. Dinosaur figurines, Operation, baby dolls, plush teddy bears—you don’t need to be young to enjoy the wacky and whimsical joys of our readers pick for Best Local Toy Store. TOY LAB proved to be a jack of all trades, slinky-ing into Platinum for Best Local Toy Store, while it didn’t take our readers long to puzzle together Gold place, choosing local franchise LEARNING EXPRESS TOYS. -AC Catherine Lafuente (on Toy Lab): In an era where so much shopping is done at chains, Toy Lab gives shoppers that exciting, toy-filled experience as a mom-and-pop operation. Rubber chickens are important, after all. Melanie Martin (on Learning Express Toys): Learning Express Toys is fantastic because the staff is so helpful. For example, if I go in and say I need a gift for a seven-year-old girl, they never fail to show me fantastic options that are a big hit with the gift recipient. Plus, they gift wrap for free. Platinum Winner- Toy Lab / Gold WinnerLearning Express Toys
BEAUTY, HEALTH &WELLNESS BEST LOCAL HAIR SALON Nuovo Salon NUOVO SALON triumphantly blows out the
competition and keeps its Platinum title this year. Meanwhile, INTREPID SALON snips its way with splitting hairs for Gold. THE CONFIDENCE FACTORY dyes for the Silver place. Sweeping up the rest of the votes in this voluminous category is SPA ALEXAUNA. Trimming closely to the winners are Yellow Strawberry and Spa Hollywood locations, earning Honorable Mentions. -BM Joy Carde-Stanulis (on Nuovo): Nuovo Salon has made it their top priority to keep me safe during the pandemic by having an employee at the door, taking the CDC recommended steps as soon as you walk in: mask, temperature check and hand sanitizer. Nuovo hair products work amazingly well, and the hairstylists are top-notch. I’d like to personally take the time to thank Sharlene. She has “mastered” getting my hair healthy again. Love her. Barbara O’Connor (on Nuovo): I found this salon when I moved here in 2004 and am still a loyal fan. Best stylists, colorists, and they have a great training program. I’ve watched many “students“ become wonderful stylists on their own. They keep a positive attitude and have gone above and beyond for their client’s protection during this challenging
pandemic. Love them. Lynne OKeefe (on Intrepid): New business, opened during Covid. Melissa Miller has countless clients to appreciate her incredible hair expertise and professionalism while being extremely warm and welcoming. She is a master at her craft, and her shop is spotless. Sheryl Kruger (on Confidence Factory): If you have hair/color gone wrong, Lynn will make it right. If you want to make a change, she will make it happen. And will give her honest and professional opinion if you’re making a good decision or not. Her work is her passion, and it shows in the results. Her colorist talent is truly amazing. Gigi Easton (on Confidence Factory): Lynn, who owns and operates this salon, is not just an artist of her trade; she also supports and encourages women by making them see their own worth and inner beauty. She will be your biggest fan and always tell you the truth. Yvonne Parmann (on Spa AlexAuna): Feeling great head to toes every time I leave here. Platinum Winner- Nuovo Salon / Gold Winner- Intrepid Salon / Silver Winner- The Confidence Factory / Bronze Winner: Spa AlexAuna.
BEST LOCAL SPA / DAY SPA Flow Massage and Wellness
Readers dub FLOW MASSAGE AND WELLNESS as the experts for rubbing out the ol’ knots and treating limbs post surgeries, earning the Platinum spa treatment. SIRIUS DAY SPA in Lakewood Ranch enters the competition by pampering enough clients for a firm Gold. Perspiring into Best Of Silver for the first time is PURIFY: AN URBAN SWEAT LODGE for knowing how to heat up a room. L.SPA’S services and essential oils lands them the Bronze, while Spa Hollywood and Elements Massage garnered well-todo voting for Honorable Mention. -BM Sondra Fox (on Flow): Samantha Haynes is LMT but so much more. I was referred to her for a mysterious edema issue (no explanation from medical tests). She did Lymphatic Drainage/Body Therapy along with psychologist Dr. Richard Shulman, and it opened up so much for me physically and emotionally. Katie Emmons (on Flow): I went to Flow after two of my surgeries. Samantha was amazing at lymph massage and helped my body heal faster. She also has several other areas of expertise and is a wealth of knowledge. Lisa Lawler (on Sirius): I met Karen through networking, and at every event, she is so passionate about what she does and how her spa helps change lives. Anything from feeling pretty on the outside to feeling confident on the inside. Elizabeth Topp (on Purify): Sam, the owner of Purify, is truly committed to the wellness of our community through opportunity and education. She partners with other wellness companies for unique experiences. Purify is always clean and ready for their next guest. I love detoxing at Purify and resetting my body and mind. Sheryl Vieira (on Purify): Purify is my go-to detox, rest, relaxation destination and when they happen, migraine remover. The service provided is more than you pay for, and the vibe is “purely” spa-like. Cynthia Carr (on L.Spa): L. Spa is hands down the
premier med spa in all of SW Florida. Rebecca, my aesthetician, has not only improved my skin, but she has also transformed it. I drive an hour just to see her. The experience there is always relaxing, luxurious, and personalized. The staff at L. Spa has incredible product knowledge and perfectly recommends exactly what my skin needs. Nicole Hancock (on L.Spa): L. Spa is in my top five fave businesses in Sarasota. I’ve been going for 10 years – mostly because they serve me wine and mimosas. But truly, it’s my favorite place for much-needed self-care. My mani-pedi is always on point, too, thanks to Mary. My skin looks healthy thanks to the facials with Becky, and Doreen gives an amazing massage. Michelle and her Botox have helped keep my migraines away for much of the past few years too. Karen, I miss you up there, friend. Gina Caro (on Spa Hollywood): Always treats me like royalty. Platinum Winner- Flow Massage and Wellness/ Gold Winner- Sirius Day Spa / Silver Winner- Purify: An Urban Sweat Lodge / Bronze Winner- L. Spa.
BEST MANICURE Paint Nail Bar There’s nothing like fresh color on those digits or the satisfying sound of tapping elegant nails on a table. Ladies (and gents), may we present the winners of the best manicures, the ones who make your nails magnificent. PAINT NAIL BAR, the one-stop-shop for all-around opulence wins Platinum, followed by L. SPA sparkling in Gold. AJ NAILS wins the Silver with SPA HOLLYWOOD landing in Bronze by just a handful of votes. Make sure to check out the equally deserving Bee Nails, Expo Nails, Suite Nails by JC and Luxury Nails, our Honorable Mentions. -OL Hallie Harris (on PAINT Nail Bar): Affordable luxury. I absolutely love going there and treating myself without the guilt of a hefty price tag. Not only are their services, their staff and their products top-notch, but the added bonus of a chic environment, delicious mimosas and the cutest retail pieces make going to PAINT more than just a simple nail appointment. Chloe Crnojevich (on L. Spa): During COVID, I was hesitant to get my nails done, but L.Spa’s intimate nail lounge made it super comfortable for me to get my services. The nail girls always do a great job. Donna Geisdorf (on AJ Nails): I have been getting manicures and pedicures at AJ Nails for two years. The woman who takes care of me is a perfectionist. I go there because it’s clean and they are keeping up with COVID protocols. Platinum Winner- Paint Nail Bar / Gold Winner- L.Spa / Silver Winner- AJ Nails / Bronze Winner- Spa Hollywood.
BEST YOGA STUDIO
Pineapple Yoga + Cycle Studio The best thing about yoga is it’ll always be there for you. So come as you may to these top yoga studios in town to practice peace, relaxation and mind/body health. Once again, on a multi-year run, PINEAPPLE YOGA + CYCLE STUDIO wins Platinum though CIRCUSOUL YOGA is close on its heels, trailing by only a handful of votes to come in at Gold. THAVMA YOGA LAKEWOOD RANCH takes its Silver victory,
with THE YOGA SHACK close behind in Bronze. So go bend and stretch at these Honorable Mentions, Hot Yoga 4 You, Body Heat Hot Yoga, Prana Yoga and Healing Center and Yoga From the Heart. -OL Erika Hoffman (on Pineapple Yoga): When I walked through those doors of Pineapple Yoga Studio this past summer, little did I know just the incredible transformation I would be embarking upon. Apart from what yoga has done to change my life, I would be remiss if I did not recognize that at the very heart of what keeps me continuing to show up are the people. I would like to express my gratitude to the studio owner, Claudia Baeza, and the amazing instructors of PYS. I consider your family and such an integral part of my life. I am truly blessed to have this kind of genuine camaraderie. Alejandra Valdes (on CircuSoul): CircuSoul has affordable classes, a loaded schedule accommodating all times and is body-positive with amazing teachers and cute retail. Plus plenty of parking. Sabrina Finucane (on Thavma Yoga): I was looking for relief for my back issues when a friend introduced me to Marina at Thavma. After briefly speaking with her before class regarding my issues, she made a point to instruct me and others with similar issues with alternate movements to ensure additional injuries did not occur. It’s been five years now, and my back has never felt better. Marina and her team truly love what they do. They care about your health, and more importantly, they have become family. Bia Antunes (on Yoga Shack): I’ve been practicing yoga for a while now and have been to several different studios. Several things make The Yoga Shack special. The teachers I practice yoga with are phenomenal and dedicated to evolving in their craft and sharing with their students. They are giving, open, caring and very helpful. The studio itself is wonderfully located near Downtown Sarasota—very convenient. The space has high ceilings, nice floors and a peaceful vibe and the teachers often use candles. The owners are running a business, but they’re also concerned with sharing yoga and spreading love and peace. Platinum Winner- Pineapple Yoga + Cycle Studio / Gold Winner- CircuSoul Yoga / Silver Winner- Thavma Yoga Lakewood Ranch / Bronze Winner- The Yoga Shack.
BEST EYECARE PRACTICE Center for Sight
Eye health should be a top priority, and the Sarasota area has optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians and their practices ready for you. Coming in at Platinum is CENTER FOR SIGHT, followed by SOTO EYE CENTER in Gold, COASTAL EYE INSTITUTE, LAKEWOOD RANCH in Silver and DR. SUSAN M. SLOAN in Bronze. Honorable Mentions include Dr. Donna L. Shotwell, O.D. P.A., Envision Eye Specialists, Spectacle Gallery and Dr. Bovio, O.D. Gulfcoast Eye. -OL Deborah Watkins (on Center for Sight): My husband had cataract surgery in early 2020, and the staff and surgeon were very thorough in their examination and evaluation, thorough with their patient education and on the day of the procedures, my husband received excellent care. I was able to
be with him at every step in the process, including observing the procedure itself with a friendly, compassionate office associate who explained every step of the procedure as I viewed it live behind glass and on a screen showing a close-up view of the surgeon’s actions. My husband had excellent results with well-timed and efficient follow-up, and the entire experience exceeded our expectations. Christine Dowell (on Coastal Eye): I first contacted Dr. Silverman at Coastal Eye Institute seven years ago when my youngest son’s preschool alerted me of a possible problem with his depth perception. Dr. Silverman was thorough and compassionate. He clearly explained the abnormality and, since it was hereditary, recommended he see my other children. He was able to intervene and stop further loss and even correct the damage in three of my children. The staff is so friendly and helpful, and my husband and I now see Dr. Freidberg at the same convenient Midtown office. My youngest still wears glasses, and they are high quality with a great warranty—much needed for an active youngster. I have and continue to highly recommend Coastal Eye Institute to all my friends and acquaintances. Laurel Dove (on Dr. Susan Sloan): Dr. Sloan is extremely good at assessing my needs and very responsive to my concerns. Her staff is very friendly and helpful, and she uses the most upto-date equipment I’ve ever seen. I’m a totally satisfied patient. Platinum Winner-Center for Sight / Gold Winner- Soto Eye Care / Silver Winner- Coastal Eye Institute / Bronze Winner-Dr. Susan M. Sloan
BEST PHYSICAL THERAPY
Siesta Key Sports and Physical Therapy When rehabilitating an injury or combatting a physical challenge, having the right partner and team on your side are crucial for success. And the voters have spoken for who they trust most. Coming in at Platinum is SIESTA KEY SPORTS AND PHYSICAL THERAPY, followed by 360 ORTHOPEDICS in Gold, FLOW MASSAGE AND WELLNESS in Silver and FYZICAL THERAPY & BALANCE CENTERS SARASOTA DOWNTOWN in Bronze. In the words of Dr. Niles Crane, “Let’s get better.” Honorable Mentions include Back in Motion: Sarasota Physical Therapy, Hands-On Physical Therapy and CORA Physical Therapy North Sarasota. -OL Janet Bye (on Siesta Key Sports): Kristy, Dave and the team are fantastic. They treated me with state-of-the-art technology for Bell’s palsy and my husband for a shattered knee cap. They care for their patients and are truly experts in their field. “Best” doesn’t begin to cover it. Paula Campbell (on 360 Orthopedics): I have been to physical therapy several times in different locations, and 360 PT is by far the best. They are truly concerned that the patient is doing the exercises properly. The physical therapist stays with one patient at a time and makes sure the exercise is being done correctly to give the patient the best way of healing. Never have I seen a better run office. 360 is dedicated to helping the patient heal and continue a better life. srq magazine_ APR21 live local | 109
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Sunny Pervil (on Flow Massage): Flow Massage has taken care of me since they opened. I am a cancer survivor, and the lymphatic drainage and massage treatments have helped to keep me cancer-free for five years. They truly are the best. Jane Healy (on FYZICAL Therapy): Every time I enter FYZICAL, I am greeted with a smile and questions as to how I was after the last session, how long it lasted and how I was doing that day. We then went to work on my specific problem of the day. Jaunita targeted each session as to how I was progressing and then would suggest what to do at home. It worked, and I am still doing well after a year. I cannot say enough about how wonderful FYZICAL was for me. Everyone was excellent to deal with, and it was truly a pleasure to go to therapy every time. Platinum Winner- Siesta Key Sports and Physical Therapy / Gold Winner- 360 Orthopedics / Silver Winner- Flow Massage and Wellness / Bronze Winner- Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers
BEST ACUPUNCTURE Rachel Toomim, AP
Acupuncture as an alternative medicine can be intimidating for the newcomer, but this healing technique, with its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, is certainly depended upon and valued by the Sarasota community for health and healing. RACHEL TOOMIM, AP, was voted as the Platinum acupuncturist, followed by a neck and neck competition with VIBRANCY ACUPUNCTURE in Gold, then DR. ZHAO LAN CAO, AP in Silver. Finally, the CENTER FOR TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE SARASOTA wraps the category in Bronze place. Honorable Mentions include Five Petal Holistic Healing Center and Integrative Path Therapies. -OL Sunny Pervil (on Rachel Toomim): Back pain gone. Moriah Farrell (on Vibrancy): Visiting Dr. Woodle was my first time having acupuncture. She immediately put my mind at ease and, over time, has become one of my closest confidants. She truly goes above and beyond for her patients, and after each appointment, she’ll reach out to see how I am. I don’t know what I would do without her. Susie Chinn (on Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine): I feel the Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine saved my life. I became extremely ill and couldn’t breathe, so I went to my regular doctor, two lung specialists and the walk-in emergency room clinic twice for breathing treatments. I was on heavy antibiotics, prednisone, cough syrups, you name it. Then it was suggested by a friend that I try acupuncture. I went three times for the relaxing acupuncture treatments, took the natural supplements they suggested, and I was better almost immediately. Dr. Zhao was amazing. In fact, I took those same immune boosters during COVID knowing how sensitive my lungs are. I will pursue this way of healing first before I go back to traditional medicine in the future. That place is amazing. They listen and don’t just shove drugs at you! Platinum Winner- Rachel Toomim / Gold Winner- Vibrancy Acupuncture / Silver Winner-
Dr. Zhao Lan Cao, AP / Bronze Winner- Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine Sarasota.
BEST CHIROPRACTOR Revitalize Chiropractic
There’s nothing worse than a constant, nagging pain that disrupts even our simplest pleasures. Finding a chiropractor who will work to your individual needs and progress can be daunting. But luckily, the SRQ voters have spoken, and these trusted chiropractic practices seem to be getting people back to comfort. Winning the Platinum title is REVITALIZE CHIROPRACTIC, followed by DR. MOSCOW & ASSOCIATES for Gold. Silver goes to SPINE WELL CHIROPRACTIC with FLORIDA CHIROPRACTIC AND REHABILITATION CLINICS, landing the Bronze. Honorable Mentions include Larson Natural Health Center, Circle Chiropractic, Dr. Cindy Hornback, Hornback Chiropractic and Wellness, Dr. Joseph F. Arme, DC PA, Harborside Chiropractic and Liotta Back and Neck Care Center. -JO Maya Kirby (on Revitalize): We love Dr. Anthony and Dr. Gina. They are such fantastic people who have such huge hearts. The best choice I ever made was to go there. Malin Cartia (on Moscow & Associates ): I had neck problems and went to see him. After my first adjustment, I felt like it was truly a miracle; the pain was so much less. He’s a very all-around nice guy, with lots of knowledge and explains everything in detail about what he’s going to do. Jazmyn Fernandez (on Spine Well): Not only do the doctors make you feel at home, but they really spark the light in you. Pun intended. After every adjustment, I’ve felt like I can conquer the world, and until this day, I get my daily adjustments there to boost my immunity and other health benefits. Samantha Haynes (on Florida Chiropractic): Dr. Winters has been a fantastic resource over the years for my pain management. He offers a wide array of modalities and always spends extra time making sure his diagnosis is correct. He is absolutely the best. Platinum Winner- Revitalize Chiropractice / Gold Winner- Dr. Moscow & Associates / Silver Winner- Spine Well Chiropractic / Bronze Winner- Florida Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Clinics.
BEST FITNESS STUDIO Fly Dance Fitness
Coming out on top with the choreography to prove themselves for the Platinum medal is firsttime winner FLY DANCE FITNESS. Loyal SCORCH FITNESS members squatted their way to a solid Gold while TRUE U FITNESS SARASOTA ran the extra mile for Silver. Voters mentioned the class options at Bronze winner PINEAPPLE YOGA + CYCLE STUDIO to be a benefit when heading for a quick sweat. -BM Amy Peterson (on Fly Dance): I’ve never been a “gym” person. I get very self-conscious working out in front of others. Not at Fly, though. They are a small, tight-knit family. And they make you feel a part of that family from day one. I’ve never in my whole life had more fun working out.
Darren Dowling (on Scorch): By far the best gym experience I have ever had. Great instructors are truly there to help in all aspects of my fitness journey. They have also become great friends, and I feel part of their community. Herbert Sauer (on True U): Joe’s novel concept of 20 minutes twice a week does a wonderful job of getting you in shape with the best use of your time. They monitor and help you reach your goals every week. Platinum Winner- Fly Dance Fitness / Gold Winner- Scorch Fitness / Silver Winner- True U Fitness / Bronze Winner- Pineapple Yoga + Cycle Studio
BEST FITNESS COACH Leslie Vance Many of you owe a lot of your muscle mass and toned glutes to your personal fitness trainers. And leading the charge with the most impressionable motivation tactics is LESLIE VANCE with Platinum weight and DYLAN ULRICH of 10Ten Fitness coming in Gold. PATTI WALLER pushed you beyond your limits to garner her Silver spot, and YOLANDA NASH’S desire to see you improve earned her the Bronze.-BM Lisa Cantor (on Leslie Vance): I honestly can’t speak highly enough about Leslie. She is my biggest inspiration and my biggest motivator. She has changed my life. She helped me lose my fat and then built my muscle, all while nursing an injury. Every day I see her, she has the brightest smile on her face and is full of energy. Not only is she a good trainer, but she’s a good human. Leslie makes a positive impact in this world. I don’t know where I would be today without her. I am so thankful for this beautiful soul. Cody Johnson (on Dylan Ulrich): Dylan is very thoughtful and really puts the extra effort into getting to know his clients and creating a program perfect for them. D Lambert (on Patti Waller): I started seeing Patti about six months after completing treatment for cancer over eleven years ago. She took this weakling of a woman and helped her value physical exercise. It was a struggle for both of us because I had very little body strength or even control. Patti had to be thinking I was a lost cause, and I felt like one. Patti continues to this day, encouraging me to push myself to achieve each new goal she sets for me. God bless you, Patti. I do not think I would be doing half the activities I can do today without the body strength she has given me. Charlene Bass (on Yolanda Nash): She is such a sweet person but works you like no other instructor. She always wants to help improve the form and be safe through the practice. Platinum Winner- Leslie Vance / Gold Winner- Dylan Ulrich / Silver WinnerPatti Waller / Bronze Winner- Yolanda Nash.
BEST AESTHETICIAN L.Spa When it comes to being an expert beautician and knowledgeable about the nature of youthful beauty, L.SPA came out as the leading Platinum contender. THE FACE OF PARIS ooh la la’s voters with their fancy French products at Gold, while SARASOTA FACIAL AESTHETICS preserves Silver. FRESH SALON & SPA’S aestheticians make an impression for a glowing Bronze. -BM
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Chloe Crnojevich (on L.Spa): L. Spa has the best and most knowledgeable skincare staff that not only makes you feel relaxed, but their treatments really make a difference in your skin. These girls have a passion for skincare, and it shows. Diane Lane (on The Face of Paris): A French facial with luxurious French products. All I can say is, “Oui, c’est bon et ooooh la la.” Lynne OKeefe (on Fresh Salon): Two fabulous aestheticians. Kind, welcoming and extremely good at their craft. Platinum Winner- L.Spa / Gold WinnerThe Face of Paris / Silver Winner- Sarasota Facial Aesthetics / Bronze Winner- Fresh Salon & Spa.
CONSUMER SERVICES BEST CAR DEALERSHIP Sarasota Ford SARASOTA FORD cruised to an easy victory in
this reader contest, lapping the competition in Platinum. But in the Gold position, WILDE LEXUS OF SARASOTA secured its own luxury spot on the podium, followed by sister dealership WILDE HONDA SARASOTA in Silver. Manatee County made a showing on the track, with GETTEL TOYOTA OF BRADENTON clocking in with a Bronze finish. Honorable Mentions got to Sunset Subaru and Gettel Toyota of Lakewood Ranch.-JO Steve Schwalbe (on Wilde Lexus): I bought a new Lexus in January 2020, and the experience was awesome. No pressure, very helpful salesman, very fair deal. I have used them for years to service an older Lexus, and they have always been great in service too. Sandi VanSickle (on Wilde Honda): We purchased a used Nissan that we spotted on their lot. We were treated as if we were buying a brand new vehicle. No-hassle, best price, couldn’t have been happier. The salesperson stayed in contact with us well after we drove off the lot. Very nice, to the point we waited for him to get off work and bought him dinner—couldn’t have asked for more. Duy Steinbock (on Wilde Honda): I did purchase a vehicle from Wilde Honda, and the experience overall was really great. It didn’t feel like it took forever to make the purchase itself, the test drive was amazing and really let me see the highlights of the technology of the car, and all the maintenance done by their service department is easy to schedule and performed thoroughly. Platinum Winner- Sarasota Ford / Gold Winner- Wilde Lexus of Sarasota / Silver Winner- Wilde Honda of Sarasota / Bronze Winner- Gettel Toyota of Bradenton.
BEST PRIVATE GOLF COURSE
Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club Nothing quite captures the beauty of Florida’s lush landscape and sunshine than perfectlymanicured golf courses studding the state. Electric green grass, pristine white flags and rays of light bouncing off silver clubs make this sport instantly picturesque. LAKEWOOD RANCH GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB scored a hole in one in Platinum, while SARA BAY COUNTRY CLUB earned the Gold.
THE CONCESSION put the tee in Silver and THE FOUNDERS CLUB was par for the course at Bronze.
Almost making it onto the green this year were the Honorable Mentions, University Park Country Club and Serenoa Golf Club. -AC John and Cathy Schweppe (on Sara Bay Country Club): Best little private golf club in the area. Designed by Donald Ross and established in 1926, it’s only ten minutes from downtown SRQ and maybe twenty minutes from the barrier islands. The small number of members ensures no wait for tee times all day, every day. The golfing activities and the full range of social events throughout the year together with robust reciprocal arrangements complete the package—a rare opportunity to belong to and play one of the top golf courses in Florida. Bailee Brandt (on Serenoa Golf Club): This small little gem is a great course for all golfers, from beginner to professional. Just east of I-75, it is easily accessible and provides a glimpse of all FL wildlife. Platinum Winner- Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club / Gold Winner- SaraBay Country Club / Silver Winner- The Concession / Bronze Winner- The Founders Club.
BEST SAILING / BOATING CLUB Sarasota Sailing Squadron
For those with the horizon on their mind and a yearning to see beyond the shore, sailing is a great way to explore Florida’s waters. Carried by the wind and a great test of skill, these local clubs easily sailed into the top spots. SARASOTA SAILING SQUADRON will definitely have cause for sail-ibration in Platinum, while SARASOTA YACHT CLUB takes Gold. LONGBOAT KEY CLUB MOORINGS ties the knot for Silver, and our readers went craysea about Bronze winner BRADENTON YACHT CLUB. Another boat-ally great choice is Honorable Mention, Key Sailing. -AC Diane Lane (on Sailing Squadron): The Luffing Lassie has the most wonderful group of women who support their incoming sailors in the most kind and loving way. They make learning to sail a complete pleasure. Tim Rocklin (on Bradenton Yacht Club): The 75-year-young Bradenton Yacht Club (BYC) is renowned in the Florida boating community as one of the friendliest anywhere. No pretense, no stuffiness, just a welcoming, family-friendly club with top-notch modern facilities, a terrific menu, Olympic-sized heated pool, and a view to die for. Hundreds of feet of transient dock space are available for visitors, and BYC’s dock-side Tiki Bar is very casual and pet-friendly to boot. It may be a well-kept secret, but its members love it! Platinum Winner- Sarasota Sailing Squadron / Gold WinnerSarasota Yacht Club / Silver Winner- Longboat Key Club Moorings / Bronze Winner- Bradenton Yacht Club
BEST LOCAL VETERINARIAN Animal Health Center
As one of the most voted-for categories in the competition, it’s clear the community holds veterinarians to a high pedigree. And having spent
more quality time quarantined with our pets this past year, working from home and trading nights out downtown with cuddle sessions on the couch, we feel closer than ever to our pets. Coming in Platinum as the top dog is ANIMAL HEALTH CENTER. In Gold is SARASOTA ANIMAL HOSPITAL and Silver, CLARK ROAD ANIMAL CLINIC. BAY ROAD ANIMAL HOSPITAL snags Bronze while Forest Lakes Animal Clinic just missed the ranking but deserving of Honorable Mention. -BM Hallie Harris (on Animal Health): We absolutely love Animal Health Center. Every time we have needed them for our animal babies, they have provided efficient, compassionate and affordable care. We have been SO thankful for them in good and tough times for our fur babies. There is no one we trust more! Ann Potenza (on Sarasota Animal): Sarasota Animal Hospital has been our pets’ veterinarian for the past seven years. The vets and their staff are always so caring and professional. Platinum Winner- Animal Health Centre / Gold Winner- Sarasota Animal Hospital / Silver WinnerClark Road Animal Clinic / Bronze Winner- Bay Road Animal Hospital.
BEST PET RESORT AND BOARDING Bayside Pet Resort
Pet owners don’t leave their precious pets with just anyone. Our voters take great consideration in who they choose to bring their furry family members to pet-sit while out of town. BAYSIDE PET RESORT took Platinum by a long shot while POOCHIE’S PAMPERED PUPS snuggled into Gold. DOGGY RESORT SRQ tailed in Silver, BRADENTON DOGSTARS raised its paw to Bronze while Fetch Pet Care of Sarasota rallies with an Honorable Mention. -BM Ann Potenza (on Bayside): Our dogs have been going to Bayside Pet Resort and Spa for seven years. They are always well cared for. The services offered are exceptional. Sammy especially loves the quality ball throwing he gets and can’t wait to get in the door. Bayside is kept exceptionally clean. Diane Lane (on Doggy Resort): Jason Beasley, in his British manner, brings dog boarding and dog training to a splendid level. The dogs love being there as much as he enjoys hosting and training them. Jason was really great about taking my grand pups at the last minute so my girls and I could get away for a weekend excursion. I love that he posts on Instagram, so we get to see their sweet smiles. Platinum Winner- Bayside Pet Resort / Gold WinnerPoochie’s Pampered Pups / Silver Winner- Doggy Resort SRQ / Bronze Winner- Bradenton Dogstars.
BEST LOCAL PET SUPPLY STORE Wet Noses Sarasota
When it’s time to run to the pet store to grab some more kibble and bones, our readers head to these local pet lover retailers. WET NOSES SARASOTA keeps bellies full, nails clipped and tails wagging in Platinum. DOGPERFECT claims the Gold position. THREE DOG BAKERY & GROOMING knows who’s srq magazine_ APR21 live local | 111
a good boy, walking its way to Silver and HOLISTIC FOR PETS is rejoiced for their inventory of naturallymade products, earning them the Bronze. Bark & Bath Sarasota gets enough belly scratches to receive an Honorable Mention along with Cat Depot. -BM Ruth Parr (on Wet Noses): We love this store. Andrew welcomes every pet parent and soothes every dog before they get groomed. He has a wonderful supply of toys, treats and everything a spoiled dog could need. But the thing that really differentiates Wet Noses from any other pet store is that it feels like a community gathering place for dogs and their people. It exemplifies the spirit of Sarasota. Steve Greene (on Wet Noses): The quality of work is outstanding, and they are always friendly and happy to help in any way. Last December, I had company coming in for the holidays and needed my dog groomed. They kept the shop open late one night so I could have her done before my guests arrived. It was so nice that they stayed late for us. My pet is happy being there. Susan Stockwell (on Three Dog): Three Dog Bakery is like walking into a doggy wonderland. Imagine walking into a store, and the first thing you see are brightly lit refrigerator displays that are full of mouth-watering bakery treats like cannolis, pizzelle, snicker-doodles, whoopie pies, eclairs and more...only to realize that these are for your dog. They are stunningly displayed and ready to be taken home. How do you choose? Then you find out that they have grooming too. Take the pup for grooming and then treat them to an amazing bakery treat? I want to BE that dog. They have all the extras like leashes, toys, cookies you pack yourself and weigh, care products and more. And you end up feeling just pure joy while you’re in the shop. Terri Mitchell (on Three Dog): We have a 16-year-old cocker spaniel – he is very frail but still a good boy. But he does have open sores and tumors on his body. The pet groomer that we were taking him to (literally right down the road from our house) told me that they no longer will be able to take care of our Peanut. This was after I told them about his condition. I was very honest with them. Then I called Three Dog Bakery. I had met the owner Lynette through a running club a ways back. I explained to her the situation. Lynette then assured me that they also take care of other elderly dogs and would love to see Peanut. Rudy, the groomer, is a gentle soul. Not only did she take care of Peanut, but she showed him much love and care. Platinum Winner- Wet Noses / Gold WinnerDogPerfect / Silver Winner- Three Dog Bakery & Grooming / Bronze Winner- Holistic For Pets.
BEST RETIREMENT COMMUNITY Glenridge on Palmer Ranch
Providing a home for retirees is no small business in Sarasota. In fact, paradise remains the region’s greatest product on the market. So who won the strongest endorsement from readers on a great place to live out the best years of your life? The overwhelming Platinum favorite turned out to be 112 | srq magazine_ APR21 live local
GLENRIDGE ON PALMER RANCH, where even in
the midst of this year’s pandemic, the community served residents with care. Second to none. But there was also love for BROOKDALE PALMA SOLA IN BRADENTON, with that community picking up enough votes to garner it the Gold. -JO Steve Blackledge (on Glenridge): Now that things are opening up, we are experiencing the true communal nature of life here – casual dinners with new friends, helpful/healthful workouts in the Fitness Center, fun and entertainment and education activities like movies, involvement in the Glenridge Model Yacht Club, lectures in the Performing Arts Center. For those unwilling or unable to rejoin community activities, the Covidera extra services continue. While the Covid and post-Covid eras here have been remarkable in their own right, we now are experiencing the true upside of the Glenridge life. We are served by a strong, capable and caring team of management, health, operations, and nutritional professionals and staff, and we are truly humbled by the warm personalities, quality, life experiences and skill sets of our fellow members. We are truly flourishing here. Platinum Winner- Glenridge at Palmer Ranch / Gold Winner- Brookdale Palma Sola.
BEST LOCAL DRY CLEANER Cove Cleaners
COVE CLEANERS figuratively cleaned up in this
category with the Platinum. The company won love from the bulk of readers answering this year’s survey. But CARLSON CLEANERS also earned accolades, enough to land the Gold. BOB’S LAUNDRY & DRY CLEANING wiped up in Silver while RINGLING CLEANERS rallied for Bronze. Mel’s Drycleaning gets an Honorable Mention -JO . Jason Laureano (on Carlson Cleaners): When we moved here five years ago, I was evaluating different cleaners, and I immediately settled on Carlson Cleaners. I use their pick-up/delivery service and receive regular communication from Donald Carlson. They pick up and deliver for me 2x a week. Always on time, and I have never had an issue the entire time I’ve been a customer. Marlane Wurzbach (on Carlson Cleaners): I know lots have local businesses have started home delivery service recently, but Carlson Cleaners has been doing pick up and delivery for many years and they do it very well. Platinum Winner- Cove Cleaners / Gold WinnerCarlson Cleaners / Silver Winner- Bob’s Laundry & Dry Cleaning / Bronze Winner- Ringling Cleaners
BEST MOVING COMPANY
Stronger Moving and Delivery Services When it comes time for a big move, who are you going to call? Our readers go with the strong movers at Platinum winner STRONGER MOVING & DELIVERY SERVICES. The company won this year’s survey contest for best movers and isn’t moving over for anyone. But close behind in Gold is SPIRIT MOVERS, which came within inches of the top spot.
Shipped to Silver is WIZARD MOVING, which still boasts some magic with voters. -JO Marlane Wurzbach (on Spirit Movers): I know the owners and their upper management. I have referred them to my own clients, always with excellent results. There are so many horror stories of moving companies that never showed up after collecting money, holding your things hostage unless you pay more than the agreed amount, etc. The care that our local Spirit Movers takes with the client’s belongings is outstanding, from the least expensive furniture and accessories to priceless family heirlooms. They can be trusted, which is the bottom line for me. Platinum Winner- Stronger Moving and Delivery Service / Gold Winner- Spirit Movers / Silver Winner- Wizard Moving
BEST RUG AND CARPET CLEANER Overturf’s Floor and Fabric Care
You wanna wash that stain right out of that rug? Plenty of full shampoo services exist for the flooring in your abode, but readers of SRQ have a clear preference for Platinum winner, OVERTURF’S FLOOR AND FABRIC CARE. The company washed away any trued competition. But SRQ CARPET CLEANERS still earned enough votes from readers to finish in Gold, with QUALITY COUNTS CARPET, UPHOLSTERY AND TILE CLEANING a close Silver. -JO Steve Schwalbe (on Overturf’s): We have had Overturf’s clean carpets and furniture. They did a great job, very clean, careful and friendly. We have also taken rugs to them to be cleaned at their shop. Not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for— good quality cleaning. Bob Stone (on SRQ Carpet): The new owners have kept the same tradition of integrity and hard work as the previous owners. SRQ Carpet Cleaning is a tradition here in Sarasota. Doreen VanMinsel (on Quality Counts): Quality Counts get the job done right the first time. I had other cleaners out, and they said my chair would not come clean, and my rug was old and worn in that area. I tried Quality Counts, and they came out and are so kind and helpful; everything came clean. Platinum Winner- Overturf Floor and Fabric Care / Gold Winner- SRQ Carpet Cleaners / Silver WinnerQuality Counts Carpet, Upholstery and Tile Cleaning.
BEST LOCAL CAR WASH Johnny’s Car Wash
We wash our hair and our clothes to look great, and we shouldn’t skimp on the largest accessory we use each day - our car. Readers picked these local spots as their favorite places. JOHNNY’S CAR WASH cleaned up the Platinum spot while EAGER BEAVER sparkled into Gold. In Silver was EVIE’S CAR WASH and BREEZY’S CAR WASH AND CUSTOM DETAIL CENTER give us that new car feeling in Bronze. Readers also took a shine to Honorable Mention Coastal Express Car Wash. -JO Laila Bonner (on Johnny’s): Very hard-working staff. Robin Ratliff (on Eager Beaver): I go to the Beneva location, and the employees there have
always been polite and very efficient with getting my vehicle in and cleaning it very thoroughly. Platinum Winner- Johnny’s Car Wash / Gold WinnerEager Beaver / Silver Winner- Evie’s Car Wash / Bronze Winner- Breezy’s Car Wash and Custom Detail Center.
PROFESSIONAL SERVICES BEST MARKETING/CREATIVE AGENCY Grapevine Communications
Sometimes the messaging is everything. Our readers offered plenty of praise for the creative marketing professionals in the region, epsiecally those who used their skills this year to promote worthy causes in need of support during the pandemic. GRAPEVINE COMMUNICATIONS held onto its familiar Platinum winning spot in the poll, with ALYSSA GAY CONSULTING in Gold. Sue Colao’s team at PURPLE FISH CREATIVE made a splash with readers this year and landed in the Silver spot, just ahead of ATLARGE in Bronze. Honorable Mentions go out to Odato Marketing Group, Studio BCC and Sokos Social. -JO Kevin Echemendia (on Alyssa Gay Consulting): When talking about AGC, it is impossible to not think of their entire team and how involved and professional they all are. What continues to
impress us is how no matter who you speak to there is genuine care behind all ideas and action items. Kristi Finigan (on Purple Fish): This boutique agency has crushed it during the pandemic. Owner Sue Colao helped launch side projects for local artist, Lipstick Lex, including her nonprofit’s website and branding, and an all-new retreat that she has founded with partner, Chloe Trautman from MTV’s Siesta Key. One of my favorite things she did was help us to launch our charity, Kisses for a Cause, so that we could raise funds and gather supplies to help give back to the underserved community in the region during the shutdown. Platinum Winner- Grapevine Communications / Gold Winner- Alyssa Gay Consulting / Silver WinnerPurple Fish Creative / Bronze Winner- ATLARGE
BEST FINANCIAL ADVISOR
Chuck Cathcart (on Full Spectrum): They are all fantastic, but for sure hats off to Steve and Jessica. They make an awesome team. Full Spectrum Financial Group just flat out delivers. From the time you first walk in the door it feels like family. The folks at Full Spectrum truly have your best interest at heart, and it shows. I can’t say enough good things about these guys. Jason Evans (on Josh Sankes, Raymond James): Josh has taken fantastic care of myself and my family. The only time I was not able to get in contact with Josh was because he attended a client’s funeral to support the family in their time of need. That deed speaks volumes about his character and as a leader in his field. Platinum Winner- Full Spectrum Financial Group / Gold Winner- Josh Sankes of Raymond James / Silver Winner- Allegiant Private Advisors / Bronze Winner- Austin Collins of Edward Jones.
Full Spectrum Financial Group
BEST LEGAL FIRM Your Family Matters
You worked hard for the money. Make sure you find someone you trust to help manage it. Based on the ticket tape from our survey software, FULL SPECTRUM FINANCIAL GROUP holds Platinum stock with SRQ readers, followed by JOSH SANKES OF RAYMOND JAMES in Gold. In Silver place was ALLEGIANT PRIVATE ADVISORS, while AUSTIN COLLINS OF EDWARD JONES holds the capital with readers to make Bronze. Honorable Mention goes to Jan Miller of Caldwell Trust. -JO
The best law firm in town? Readers made the case for YOUR FAMILY MATTERS, Natalya Evan’s family law-focused practice, which managed to get to the top of the docket in this category full of sharks. BERLIN PATTEN EBLING still showed up and represented in Gold place. Readers judged BAND LAW GROUP fondly enough to put it in Silver place, while SHUMAKER, LOOP & KENDRICK came in at Bronze. Other Honorable Mentions in our jury’s pool include Robertson Law, Norton Hammersley,
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Lopez and Skokus, Koontz & Associates, Dunlap & Moran and The Law Place. -JO Stephanie McQueen (on Your Family Matters): The owner Natalya Evans helped me with my divorce. You won’t find any stuffy black suits in her office or be forced to speak to a case manager/paralegal. You work directly with the attorneys. The office is warm and inviting and Natalya’s puppy was a great bonus to our meetings. Natalya, took the time to explain each and every step of the divorce process to me and answered all my questions. She definitely knows her stuff. Jakob Hart (on Band Law Group): I used Band Law Group to close on my house recently. The whole process was very smooth, professional and well- communicated. Platinum Winner- Your Family Matters / Gold Winner- Berlin Patten Ebling / Silver Winner- Band Law Group / Bronze Winner- Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick.
BEST CPA FIRM Kerkering Barberio Few services require so much trust as turning over your finances to an accounting professional. KERKERING BARBERIO won the day. But JOHN MICHAEL SMITH CPA was close behind, barely landing in Gold. A few dollars down from there, STERLING TAX & ACCOUNTING rang in with the Silver honor, while MILES & THIRION figured in at Bronze. Honorable Mentions go to Ted Dunn CPA and Rehfeldt Group. -JO Dick Rivera (on Kerkering Barberio): Kerkering Barberio has been my accounting firm for over 20 years – they are professional in every way, knowledgeable about and current on key issues of the day for both individuals and businesses. They are quick to respond, never miss a deadline and have the highest integrity; I am proud to tell people that they are my accountants. Stephanie McQueen (on John Michael Smith): John Michael Smith is not only a beautiful soul, but he knows his stuff. He will spend as much time with you as you need to understand and feel comfortable with the decisions to be made. It is honestly like talking with an old friend. Kelly Goldstein (on Miles & Thirion): Miles & Thirion is a group of high-caliber professionals with the manpower to address a range of issues many people face and need assistance with. As financial advisors, we partner with local accounting firms that we feel are well-equipped to handle our individual and business owner clientele and are consistently impressed with Miles & Thirion. Platinum Winner- Kerkering Barberio / Gold WinnerJohn Michael Smith CPA / Silver Winner- Sterling Tax & Accounting / Bronze Winner- Miles & Thirion
BEST LOCALLY BASED BANK Sabal Palm Bank
With efforts like the Paycheck Protection Program put in place this year, local banks often connected business owners to lifelines. Our readers were grateful for the work done by professionals at SABAL PALM BANK, this year’s Platinum winning institution, that helped keep offices operating and storefronts open. Several readers made particular note of the 114 | srq magazine_ APR21 live local
leadership of Bank President Neil McCurry. Readers also know their money is cared for at GULFSIDE BANK, who won the Gold place. -JO Dick Rivera (on Sabal Palm): Sabal Palm Bank is role model for community banks – it is business banking focused, knows its customers and its community. It was ranked in the top 10 ten banks in Florida in PPP loans made to businesses as an indicator of its commitment to the community and its nimbleness. It is a bank that is totally customer oriented, returns decisions quickly and makes its customer’s pace the pace of the bank. Platinum Winner- Sabal Palm Bank / Gold Winner- Gulfside Bank.
BEST CREDIT UNION Achieva Credit Union
Those who long for a different type of financial relationship have shifted from banks to credit unions, and highly recommend a number of providers. The focus on individual needs instead of overall profit draws particular praise for ACHIEVA CREDIT UNION, this year’s Platinum vote-getter. But there’s plenty of praise for the educator-oriented SUNCOAST CREDIT UNION, who finished in Gold. And from college kids to professionals and alumni, the USF FEDERAL CREDIT UNION also earned a solid Silver-place rating. -JO Mercy Cortez (on USF Federal): USF FCU always puts the member first. Rates are always competitive and they are willing to go above and beyond when a member thinks they aren’t. They definitely aren’t your regular big commercial bank. Platinum WinnerAchieva Credit Union / Gold Winner- Suncoast Credit Union / Silver Winner- USF Federal Credit Union.
BEST LOCAL INSURANCE AGENCY Hart & Hart Insurance
Whether you need insurance on your home, car or personal yacht, it helps to have a professional navigate the options for policies. Our readers recommend giving Platinum winner HART & HART INSURANCE a call. Making a claim for Gold is AL PURMORT INSURANCE, while the unrelated PURMORT & MARTIN INSURANCE AGENCy navigated the race to land in Silver place. ATLAS INSURANCE rounded things out with Bronze. Honorable Mentions go to Boyd Insurance & Investments, Des Champs & Gregory, Chapman Insurance, Full Spectrum Financial Group, Valiant Insurance and Investment Group and The Peeples Insurance Agency. -JO Diane Lane (on Atlas Insurance): I know of no other company that has such high level of integrity as Atlas Insurance. They treat their employees with great respect and throw the most phenomenal Christmas parties. Wendy Cos (on Atlas Insurance): We continue to be impressed with their depth of knowledge and willingness to search out the best insurance options for us. Every agent we have worked with at Atlas has provided the highest quality service and attention to our every need. John Covell (on Atlas Insurance): A few years ago when I needed an unusual sort of insurance, they found me a solution that cost-effectively met my needs. When from time to time I have needed
an extra bit of customer service (eg, a proof of insurance on short notice, or a policy modification) they have responded helpfully and timely. Platinum Winner- Hart & Hart Insurance / Gold Winner- Al Purmort / Silver Winner- Purmort & Martin Insurance Agency / Bronze Winner- Atlas Insurance.
BEST NEW BUSINESS
Discover Sarasota Tours That’s right. Even in the economic, socio-political turmoil that constituted the year 2020, companies incorporated in the sure-to-be-historicallymaligned year, and many even thrived. Like who? Our readers point to Platinum winner DISCOVER SARASOTA TOURS, that found a way to keep visitors coming to the region without the risk of crowd-assembling events by offering bus tourism. In Gold was THE POINT KITCHEN + COCKTAILS + SUNSET, a waterfront restaurant that found a way to serve. Silver winner ENDLESS SUMMER ECO TOURS amplified the appeal of the great outdoors while Bronze winner, THE FAT DONKEY ICE CREAM & FINE DESSERTS SARASOTA indulged the region’s cravings. An Honorable Mention also goes to Civil X-Engineering. -JO Jack Chesley (on Discover Sarasota): The only tour company with professional performers and entertainers that make the tours informative and fun. Filled a need in town with so much history and so many interesting cultures for so many new and returning visitors and residents. Helps promote other arts and cultural organizations with a variety of tours offered - Public Art, Circus, Sports History, Unicorn sightings, Amish and City History (Can’t wait for the Irish Hooley tour). LeeAnne Swor (on The Point Kitchen): The Point is the best place in Sarasota to watch the sunset while drinking craft cocktails and enjoying really delicious food. Mike Evanoff has done it again in creating a casual fun friendly place with great atmosphere and incredible staff. Alejandra Valdes (on Endless Summer): Derek Wilson is the owner and has poured blood, sweat and tears into getting his ebike tour and rental company off and running. I saw him start out with a handful of bikes and in just a short amount of time has a full fleet and runs amazing sunset tours on Siesta Key, and guided tours out in Myakka. We loved it so much we bought our own for our family, which Derek can take care of for you and even assemble. Nothing beats riding down the shoreline on Siesta at sunset at 12-15 mph. Platinum WinnerDiscover Sarasota Tours/ Gold Winner- The Point Kitchen + Cocktails + Sunset / Silver Winner- Endless Summer Eco Tours / Bronze Winner- The Fat Donkey Ice Cream and Fine Desserts Sarasota.
BEST PLACE TO WORK PropLogix The year provided quite a challenge to maintaining a corporate culture, but those with a support system through their jobs cherished it more than ever. Ask the folks at PROPLOGIX; the title company was voted Platinum by our readers as the Best Place to Work in the region. Gold went to TANDEM CONSTRUCTION, while the nonprofit CAT DEPOT pounced on Silver.
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LEFT: Kathy Collums, Diana Correa and Neil McCurry
from Sabal Palm Bank prove to be quite the quaran-team, playing a game of lockdown Scrabble off-the-clock in the Savanna 2 model home by Neal Communities.
NEIL MCCURRY, president of Sabal Palm Bank, also
made a strong showing and came in Gold. Downtown Merchants Association leader RON SOTO could be spotted in Silver, while former referee now attorney CHRISTINA UNKEL, the force behind Scorch Fitness, Deadlift Effect and the Women’s Sports Museum powered her way to Bronze. Dennis Murphy of Gulfside Bank garners the Honorable Mention. -JO Mike Whincup (on Christina Unkel): Christina is an absolute inspiration and a force of nature. Lawyer, philanthropist, international FIFA referee, TV sports pundit and business owner, Christina Unkel is driving local business Scorch Fitness onto the national stage with energy and direction. Dedicated and driven yet human and compassionate, she displays all the skills needed to be successful and a role model to any young entrepreneurs. Platinum Winner- David and Molly Enough deposited support into ACHIEVA CREDIT UNION to earn Bronze. Honorable Mention goes to Bold Cowork Sarasota. -JO Jennifer Niccolai (on PropLogx): One of our mottos is “we are all in this together” and the past year really demonstrated that. We did not have a single layoff due to COVID. We doubled our headcount while providing dozens of internal growth opportunities. We have become a blended in-person and remote work environment, which has allowed our employees flexibility to put their families first. The past year for PropLogix has been a period of transformational growth rooted in our strong culture for innovation, treatment of our people, and our laser focus on client satisfaction. Lauren Probst (on Tandem Construction): The company culture is authentic and caring, not just another “number” or “employee” like some companies. They truly care about each of their employees and try to make working at Tandem an overall wonderful experience. They give in ways that most companies would never give. Not only to their employees, each year and throughout the year, but also to our local communities. Platinum Winner- PropLogix / Gold Winner- Tandem Construction / Silver Winner- Cat Depot / Bronze Winner- Achieva Credit Union.
BEST PANDEMIC BUSINESS REINVENTION Discover Sarasota Tours From respacing tour groups to relocating exercise classes, the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic strife forced many a business to rebuild a business model for a new and socially-distanced world. Top Platinum marks from readers went to DISCOVER SARASOTA TOURS, which out of the gate had to redefine its offerings in a world averse to travel groups. Gold went to PINEAPPLE YOGA & CYCLE STUDIO, which owners cleared their mind enough for the simple revelation that stationary bikes can spin outside. YOUR CULINARY PLACE won Silver place
for finding ways to make a shared commercial kitchen into a safe and healthy environment for remote chefs. -JO Platinum Winner- Discover Sarasota Tours / Gold Winner- Pineapple Yoga + Cycle Studio / Silver WinnerYour Culinary Place.
PEOPLE &COMMUNITY BEST LOCAL HANGOUT Siesta Beach Fresh air and sunsets seemed the clearest throughline for voters, who named SIESTA BEACH the Platinum place to chill in the region. Docking one slip down was Gold hangout MARINA JACK. More love for the dunes came in votes for LIDO KEY BEACH, which came in with Silver. CELERY FIELDS hiked up to Bronze. Honorable Mentions go to a number of sea breeze rich destinations including Coquina Beach, Jewfish Key, Hart’s Landing and Crescent Beach. -JO Claudia Baeza (on Marina Jack): The view at Marina Jack is stunning and the staff is amazing. It’s all about community for me. That’s what stands out—how wonderful people are. Ellen Brosnahan(on Marina Jack): We love the outdoor terrace. It’s a must for showing visitors what we love about Sarasota. Beautiful vistas, great food, an occasional dolphin sighting, and lots of opportunities to gawk at some beautiful boats make this a favorite spot for lunch or dinner. An evening bonus is the sunset. Platinum Winner- Siesta Beach / Gold Winner- Marina Jack / Silver Winner-Lido Key Beach / Bronze Winner- Celery Fields.
BEST BUSINESS LEADER David and Molly Jackson
Sarasota seems to be a magnet for experienced business leaders, so it takes a great deal to emerge as a leader on these shores. DAVID AND MOLLY JACKSON, owners of multiple New Balance and Fleet Feet stores in the region, stepped to Platinum. Banker
Jackson / Gold Winner- Neil McCurry / Silver WinnerRon Soto / Bronze Winner- Christina Unkel.
BEST NONPROFIT LEADER Phillip Tavill Standing out for making money may be a challenge outdone only by the power to spend it for collective social good. Nonprofits provide a vital sector of the local economy. PHILLIP TAVILL of Children First comes up at Platinum by a landslide. TOM WATERS at EasterSeals SWFL pulled off the Gold finish through offering more children-centered services. LUZ CORCUERA, executive director of UnidosNow, came in Silver in our poll while animal-saving JAAKOLA OTT, previously of Cat Depot, landed in Bronze. Honorable Mention go to James Meister, chair of Sarasota County Public Hospital Board and Donna Maythem, from the Arts Advocates board. -JO Tom and Kathy Cook (on Philip Tavill): Philip Tavill is one of the most caring people we know. He loves the children, the families and staff at Children First so much. He has expanded the programs so much in the 25 years that he has been at Children First. Mike Whincup (on Luz Corcuera): Luz’s character and compassion shine through in every interaction you have with her. Her leadership of UnidosNow has seen the organization become stronger and more diverse. Her commitment to the many causes of UnidosNow is best encapsulated by the local kids she is helping by putting them on a college path. Platinum WinnerPhillip Tavill / Gold Winner- Tom Waters / Silver WinnerLuz Corcuera / Bronze Winner- Jaakola Ott.
BEST FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESS Cakes by Ron
From bakeries to funeral homes, the comfort of a family-owned business adds something to the service and care. What mom-and-pop shops rose to the top with readers? Voters praised CAKES BY RON in Sarasota as Platinum winner. But family comforting family at TOALE BROTHERS FUNERAL HOMES srq magazine_ APR21 live local | 115
registered high with voters at Gold. On the lighter side, LOKEY’S ESCAPE ROOMS thrilled survey participants and picked up Silver, while THE BAZAAR ON APRICOT & LIME, where the young children of retailers can often be seen hawking wares, secured Bronze. Honorable Mentions went to Albritton Fruit Farms, Hart & Hart Financial Services, Molly’s/New Balance/Fleet Feet, Sarasota Ford, Voigt Brothers Construction, Tropical Shores Gourmet Popcorn, Ocerturf’s Floor and Fabric Care and Horizon Mortgage Company. -JO Roberta Hamilton (on Toale Brothers): When the end is in sight, a person wants a professional and trustworthy company. Toale Brothers on Orange meets the challenge. Andrew Morris (on Lokey’s): It’s not just because they are family owned but is directly a reflection of the family that owns Lokey’s. There is an obsessive attention to detail that others are simply not doing. From script writing, puzzles, the help that’s received, the fully immersive environment, character development and all of it working together to engage the participant. Platinum
garages for each unit, up to date amenities and timeless architecture. The vast majority of owners are active participants in the meeting and board processes which creates the sense that it is their building. Platinum Winner- Savoy on Palm / Gold Winner- Epoch Sarasota.
BEST LUXURY APARTMENT BUILDING CitySide Apartments
You don’t have to purchase a piece of paradise to enjoy the good life. The Sarasota market, particularly in the Rosemary District, in recent years saw a substantial increase in luxury apartment offerings. Readers voted for CITYSIDE APARTMENTS as the resounding Platinum winner. Zip around the corner to Gold winner ARCOS SARASOTA or THE DESOTA, which placed in Silver.-JO Sean Clark (on ARCOS): I have rented here since September of 2020 and have nothing but good things to say about it—all new appliances in the units, fantastic amenities from the spa-like pool, common party area, grills, dog cleaning and walking areas, workout room/ gym, to the massage/nail salon rooms and sauna.
Winner- Cakes by Ron / Gold Winner- Toale Brothers Funeral Homes / Silver Winner- Lokey’s Escape Rooms / Bronze Winner- The Bazaar at Apricot and Lime
Platinum Winner- CitySide Apartments / Gold WinnerARCOS Sarasota / Silver Winner- The DeSota.
BEST LOCAL ONLINE CLASS
Waterside Town Center
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Ringling College Students of all ages received an important lesson: you don’t need a classroom to continue learning. This curious community found ways to continue gathering knowledge through virtual education, including from local online classes. The OSHER LIFELONG LEARNING INSTITUTE AT RINGLING COLLEGE set the curve for our readers, winning Platinum. In Gold, the MUSIC COMPOUND played on. LET’S CREATE ART inspired the votes to win Silver place, while ANNE ABGOTT WATER COLORS filled in the list for Bronze. -JO Michael Brosnahan(on OLLI): OLLI offers an array of interesting, stimulating classes to broaden the horizons of lifelong learners. Meeting the challenges of Covid, They provided courses and lectures on ZOOM while opening some classrooms safely. The instructors are well-prepared, creative and enthusiastic. OLLI is an excellent way to grow intellectually or delve into a new area of interest while meeting interesting people in our community. Platinum Winner- OLLI / Gold Winner- Music Compound / Silver Winner- Let’s Create Art / Bronze Winner- Anne Abgott Watercolors.
BEST LUXURY CONDOMINIUM Savoy on Palm
You can’t beat a luxury space in Sarasota as a place to be stuck. We asked about lux living for the region and readers pointed to the SAVOY ON PALM condo tower in Downtown as Platinum. In Gold, voterd noted EPOCH SARASOTA, a modern tower offering panoramic views -JO Dick Rivera (on Savoy on Palm): The Savoy on Palm is a small building (24 condominiums) which has an intimate feel because of its size, individual parking
BEST NEW HOME COMMUNITY One industry that never slowed down last year was construction. And readers moving into these dream homes have no regrets. The best place to build? Voters picked WATERSIDE TOWN CENTER IN LAKEWOOD RANCH as the Platinum winner. PROMENADE ESTATE ON PALMER RANCH by D.R. Horton earned enough votes to win Gold while NORTH RIVER RANCH ended up in Silver. Another D.R. Horton community, GARDEN VILLAGE, had a strong enough foundation of support for a Bronze finish. An Honorable Mention goes to Mattamy Homes’ Sunrise Preserve at Palmer Ranch. -JO Joe Harris (on Waterside Town): I own a home there in Waterside in Lakehouse Cove. Great amenities! The future Waterside Shoppes that will be available this July making the Waterside communities the hot place in the area for all to enjoy. Platinum WinnerWaterside Town Center / Gold Winner- Promenade Estate / Silver Winner- North River Ranch / Bronze Winner- Garden Village.
BEST ORGANIZATION TO PROVIDE COVID-19 SUPPORT Children First
Assistance seemed the hardest product to find for a period last year, but plenty of local entities stepped up to offer special COVID-19 support. CHILDREN FIRST proved Platinum among them, according to voters, for turning the attention of its family services toward the home. The SARASOTA COUNTY CARES ACT, approved by county commissioners, gave straight government help to folks and won Gold in our poll. The adjusted services available through CAT DEPOT landed the more-than-just-a-pet-shelter in Silver, while WILLIS A. SMITH CONSTRUCTION’S support programs placed the private contractor in Bronze. Honorable Mention goes to JFCS of the Suncoast.-JO
LeeAnne Swor (on Sarasota County/CARES Act): Providing relief for my business during the COVID pandemic. The application wasn’t overwhelming and the grant came sooner than expected. Small businesses have been hit so hard, this money really helped us keep our staff paid and employed. We are going to survive as we have amazing clients and the CARES act gave us that added boost we needed. Great job Sarasota. Platinum Winner- Children First / Gold Winner- Sarasota County CARES Act / Silver Winner- Cat Depot / Bronze Winner- Willis A. Smith Construction.
BEST BRADENTON CITY / MANATEE COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIAL Commissioner Reggie Bellamy
There’s only one Democrat serving on the Manatee County Commission. But according SRQ’s readership, COUNTY COMMISSIONER REGGIE BELLAMY has stood out in the county as its greatest leader. For the first time, he won Platinum in this category. Right behind him is MANATEE COUNTY COMMISSIONER GEORGE KRUSE, a newcomer to the board who landed in Gold the first year he was eligible. -JO Catherine Lafuente (on Reggie Bellamy): He issued a proclamation declaring racism a public health issue in Manatee County. It was really heartening for me to see the disparities in our area addressed. There are a variety of data-driven reasons that Bellamy saw fit to issue such a proclamation. Platinum Winner- Manatee County Commissioner Reggie Bellamy / Gold WinnerManatee County Commissioner George Kruse.
BEST SARASOT CITY / SARASOTA COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIAL Commissioner Christian Ziegler
We realize every elected official in the region earned their title by winning enough votes, but who stands out among this group? SRQ’s readership gave high marks to SARASOTA COUNTY COMMISSIONER CHRISTIAN ZIEGLER, who won Platinum. But high marks also went to SARASOTA CITY COMMISSIONER LIZ ALPERT, who won re-election and Gold in our reader poll. SARASOTA MAYOR HAGEN BRODY came in at Bronze. -JO Dan Miller (on Christian Ziegler): He fights for the citizens of Sarasota County every day. I would like to see him one day as Governor or better yet, President Ziegler. Debbie Plotts (on Christian Ziegler): Christian first and foremost is a great person and family man. He truly cares about people and this community. No matter how small the issue, Christian will take the time to listen to you not just hear you “listen to you”. No matter what the answer is he will take the time to follow up and explain how he or his colleagues came to the decision they did. Carolyn Mason (on Liz Alpert): Commissioner Alpert has proven to be consistent and even-keeled in her handling of her duties as an elected official. She is always respectful and does her homework. Platinum Winner- Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler / Gold Winner- Sarasota City Commissioner Liz Alpert / Silver Winner- Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody.
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