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TABLE OF CONTENTS RECREATIONAL

Best Place to Exercise.................................... 8 Best Golf Course..........................................10 Best Park......................................................10

HOUSING & HOSPITALITY Best Best Best Best Best

Bed and Breakfast...............................12 Child Care Center.................................14 Apartment Complex..............................14 Hotel.....................................................16 Retirement Home.................................16

FOOD & DRINK Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best

Asian Restaurant..................................18 Vegetarian Food...................................18 Pizza.....................................................20 Chocolates/Doughnuts/Pastries.........21 Happy Hour...........................................21 Wine List..............................................21 Coffee/Tea Shop..................................22 Ice Cream/Yogurt.................................22 Fine Dining Restaurant........................23 Romantic Restaurant...........................23 Place for Breakfast...............................24 Barbecue..............................................26 Buffet...................................................26 Burger...................................................27 Catering Company................................27 Deli/Sandwich Shop.............................28 Italian Restaurant................................28 Mexican Restaurant.............................28 Place for Lunch....................................28 Outdoor Dining.....................................29 Place to Get a Cold Beer......................29 Sports Bar............................................29 Steak....................................................29

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Best Dance Studio........................................30 Best Art Gallery............................................31 Best Ethnic Event in Northeast Kansas.......31

Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best

RETAIL Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best

President and publisher Zach Ahrens Editor and vice president of audience Tomari Quinn

4 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

Organic/Health Food Store..................38 Tattoo Shop..........................................39 New Auto Dealer...................................40 Tire Store..............................................40 Used Auto Dealer.................................40 Florist...................................................42 Jewelry Store........................................43 Liquor Store..........................................44 Antique Store.......................................44 Motorcycle/RV Dealer..........................45 Place to Buy Photo Equipment.............45 Garden Store/Nursery..........................46 Grocery Store.......................................46 Hobby Store..........................................46 New Business.......................................46 Thrift Store/Flea Market......................46 Furniture Store..................................... 47 Game Shop........................................... 47 Convenience Store...............................48 Flooring Store.......................................48 Place to Buy Clothes............................49 Place to Buy Formal Clothes................49 Place to Buy Sports Apparel.................49 Sporting Goods Store...........................49

SERVICE

Best of Topeka Published by The Topeka Capital-Journal/CJOnline.com 616 S.E. Jefferson, Topeka, KS 66607/www.cjonline.com

Vice president of sales and marketing Susan Cantrell

Casino..................................................32 Place for Live Entertainment................32 Place to Take an Out-of-Towner............32 Event in Northeast Kansas..................34 Free Entertainment..............................34 Family Entertainment...........................35 Place for Reception/Event...................35 Local Historical Site.............................36 Museum...............................................36

Bank.....................................................50 Credit Union.........................................52 Roofing Company.................................54 Electrician............................................56

Niche editor Jan Biles Niche projects production and marketing manager Stewart Cole Operations manager Brian Bronson Director of circulation and IT Gary Warner Contributing writers Phil Anderson, Jan Biles,

Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best

Heating/Air Company...........................56 Plumbing Company..............................56 Car Wash..............................................58 Place to Get a Haircut..........................59 Equipment Rental Company.................60 Auto Body and Paint Shop....................61 Auto Repair Shop.................................61 Place for an Oil Change........................61 Builder/Remodeler — Commercial.......62 Builder/Remodeler — Residential........62 Carpet Cleaner.....................................63 Cell Service Provider............................63 Church/Synagogue...............................64 Computer Sales/Service......................64 Financial Planner.................................65 Funeral Home/Crematory....................65 Home Improvement Store....................66 Internet Service Provider.....................66 Laundry/Dry Cleaner............................67 Lawn Care............................................67 Pest Control Company..........................68 Place for Pet Care................................68 Tanning Salon.......................................69

PROFESSIONAL

Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best Best

Real Estate Agent.................................70 Physical Therapy..................................72 Auctioneer............................................73 Photographer........................................ 74 Dentist.................................................. 74 Veterinary Hospital...............................75 Real Estate Agency...............................75 Architect............................................... 76 Chiropractor......................................... 76 Employment Agency.............................77 Eye Doctor............................................77 Hearing Aid Service Provider................78 Insurance Agency.................................78 Lawyer..................................................79 Medical Facility....................................79

EDITORS’ PICKS...................................80

Bill Blankenship, Morgan Chilson, Marcus Clem, Samantha Foster, Steve Fry, Tim Hrenchir, Celia LlopisJepsen, Katie Moore, Luke Ranker, Jonathan Shorman, Justin Wingerter

Copy editor Kelly Adams

Visual editor Thad Allton

Best of Topeka sales supervisor Terri Benson

Photographers/ videographers Emily DeShazer, Chris Neal Web content/digital support Mick Delfelder, Emily DeShazer, Eric Smith

Event coordinators Kate Leibsle, John Keckeisen

Advertising sales representatives Brandon Brillhart, Carley Frye, Linda Girardin, Brett Lackey, Jake Woodland, Karen Yost


More than 335k votes cast for 276 local entities

F

rom A-1 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electrical to the YMCA, you told us which businesses and people have you lining up for the best Topeka has to offer. In all, 276 establishments and individuals are celebrated in the pages of this magazine. Another 24 received Editors’ Picks nods. We debut this year more than a dozen new categories, including Best New Business, Best Happy Hour, Best Wine List and Best Romantic Restaurant. Many were added at your request. Now, we want to hear more. What categories did we miss? Which profession merits notice? Any cuisine catching your fancy? Go to cjonline.com/bestoftopeka and tell us what you want to see next year. You also can email niche editor Jan Biles at jan.biles@cjonline.com and put “Best of Topeka” in the subject line or call her at (785) 295-1292. If social media is your thing, give us your feedback at www.facebook.com/TopekaCapitalJournal or use the hashtag #bestoftopeka on Twitter. We’ll listen however you want to speak. And you spoke in big numbers in this year’s contest. We published print ballots on three Sundays and posted our online ballot from April 24 to May 23. More than 335,000 votes were cast in 109 categories — despite voting being limited to once per category per week. All ballots were placed in a drawing for the grand prize of an overnight stay at Prairie Band Casino & Resort and $50 at its Three Fires Steakhouse. Two additional drawings netted lucky winners two dinner buffets each at the Longhouse Buffet at the casino. So sit back and feast on this special section — the first time we’ve published it as a glossy magazine in its 26-year history. Then hit the city to celebrate the Best of Topeka in person. As these 84 pages show, Topeka has much to offer. One might say it is the best. Tomari Quinn, editor and vice president of audience


THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

GreatLife Golf & Fitness has nine locations in Topeka. From left are Karon Lee, marketing director; Darren Falk, manager at GreatLife at YWCA; and Hannah Burkdoll, manager at GreatLife at Western Hills and fitness coordinator.

BEST PLACE TO EXERCISE GREATLIFE GOLF & FITNESS

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Genesis Health Clubs YMCA

greatlifegolf.com

With 50 locations across three states and nine in the Topeka area, GreatLife Golf & Fitness has all the resources and variety it needs to appeal to customers. Karon Lee, marketing director for GreatLife, thinks this may be why voters have selected the company’s area locations as the Best Place to Exercise for the past three years. Lee believes the public’s reception to the new GreatLife North 24-hour fitness center at 350 N.E. US-24 highway is key to this 8 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

year’s honor. “All of our fitness options are free to members, so that’s been a very enticing option to our customer base,” she said. GreatLife wants to make sure customers use their memberships to their fullest extent, so members hear from staff often about new workout opportunities, she said. Trainers are encouraged to keep track of clients’ progress and encourage them to come in for workouts as often as possible.

“We have lived by our mission of enriching the lives of individuals and families through golf and fitness,” Lee said. High employee morale and sponsorships that support the community also have been instrumental to GreatLife’s success, she said. “We plan to continue to support Topeka in every way we can,” Lee said. “We’ve been part of the community for 30 years, and we want Topeka to grow and prosper.” — Marcus Clem


BEST GOLF COURSE

FIREKEEPER AT PRAIRIE BAND CASINO & RESORT firekeepergolf.com

The award-winning golf course is the first signature course of four-time PGA tour winner Notah Begay III, who co-designed the 18-hole layout. An economic endeavor of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, the course retains natural elements and respects tribal traditions of environmental sensitivity. Firekeeper opens with seven holes in the prairie and finishes with 11 holes featuring creeks, rolling hills and trees.

Lake Shawnee Golf Course Topeka Country Club

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BEST PARK GAGE PARK

parks.snco.us/index.aspx?NID=179 A popular place for birthday parties, weddings and corporate picnics, the 160-acre park has been making memories since 1899. A mini-train follows a mile-long track, while a 1908 carousel houses a Wurlitzer-style band organ. Four hundred varieties of roses bloom at Reinisch Rose Garden. Dogs run leash-free at Hill’s Bark Park, and children splash in the 50-meter pool at the Blaisdell Family Aquatic Center.

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Lake Shawnee Shunga Trail

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BEST BED AND BREAKFAST THE BARN BED & BREAKFAST INN thebarnbb.com

If there’s a date that’s special to you, don’t delay reserving space at The Barn Bed & Breakfast Inn. This Valley Falls establishment, nestled among the hills of Jefferson County north of Perry Lake, has visitors booking rooms as far out as 2020. “I think our guests feel at home,” said owner Patricia Miller, whose parents, Tom and Marcella Ryan, opened The Barn 30 years ago. “Hospitality is our priority.” The Ryans inherited the late-1800s structure in the 1970s and later renovated it for use as their home. As their four children grew older and began moving out, they transformed the home at 14910 Blue Mound Road into the peaceful, countryside inn it is today. Home-cooked meals, disc golf, fishing, walking trails and other treats await the visitors who stay in its 20 guestrooms. “You can be as busy as you want to be, or you can literally sit out in a hammock and drink a glass of wine and read a good book,” said Miller, who began helping her parents with the inn at age 13. The Barn is thriving — so much so that Miller recently took a leave of absence from her other career as a registered nurse to handle the demand. That devotion promises to keep this family legacy going. — Celia Llopis-Jepsen

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The Woodward Inns on Fillmore Circle S Ranch & Country Inn


THAD ALLTON/ THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Patricia Miller owns and operates The Barn Bed & Breakfast Inn in Valley Falls. She is the youngest daughter of Tom and Marcella Ryan, who opened The Barn nearly 30 years ago. Upper right: The Barn Bed and Breakfast Inn offers home-cooked meals in a small dining area. Lower right: The country inn also features an indoor swimming pool and walking trails.

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EMILY DESHAZER/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Denise Coker, center, reads to a pre-kindergarten class at Christ the King Early Education Center. The center serves children from 2 weeks to 12 years old with its preschool, summer school-age camp, and before- and after-school programs.

BEST CHILD CARE CENTER CHRIST THE KING EARLY EDUCATION CENTER

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Little Lions Learning Center at Cair Paravel Latin School La Petite Academy

ctktopeka.org/early-education-center

Christ the King Early Education Center not only prepares children to succeed at school, but the learning center also grows its students’ faith. The Early Education Center, 5973 S.W. 25th St., which feeds into Christ the King Elementary School, serves children from 2 weeks to 12 years old with its preschool, summer school-age camp and before- and after-school programs. “The archdiocese has preschool standards that are aligned with Kansas CORE,” EEC director Dawn Brown said, adding instruction in the Catholic faith also is part of the curriculum.

Enrollment has increased significantly during the EEC’s more than 20 years in operation, assistant director Ashley McGee said. About 120 families were enrolled in the year-round preschool this summer, and an additional 58 children — both Christ the King and out-of-district students — participated in the center’s 11-week summer camp. In their three years at EEC, McGee and Brown have seen high retention rates among staff, perhaps in part because the center’s 33 staff members, especially its veteran employees, are encouraged to continue their higher education and

allowed to do so during work hours. “It’s an awesome place (to work),” Brown said. “We have competitive wages and good benefits, and we try to do a lot of activities to keep the staff engaged.” Staff are involved in community outreach projects each month, and families and students are encouraged to participate. Projects have included collecting items for the Topeka Rescue Mission and Helping Hands Humane Society, as well as gathering mittens and gloves for Doorstep Inc. — Samantha Foster

BEST APARTMENT COMPLEX SHERWOOD APARTMENTS

iretapartments.com/Kansas/Topeka/Sherwood-Apartments Apartment dwellers want the conveniences of the city, but they often long for a touch of country, too. The Sherwood delivers both. The apartment complex, built in a wooded setting, is a short distance from coffee shops and major roadways and bus lines and encourages an active lifestyle with its roundthe-clock fitness center, tennis and basketball courts, and swimming pool. 14 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

Aldersgate Village Chalet Apartments

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BEST HOTEL

CAPITOL PLAZA HOTEL capitolplazahoteltopeka.com

Just a mile and a half from downtown Topeka and a stone’s throw from the Kansas Expocentre, conference goers, corporate travelers and vacationers have come to expect nothing less than first-class accommodations and service at the 200-plus-room hotel. Watch the chefs at work in the open-air atmosphere of the Falling Water Grille, or check out sandwiches, appetizers and cocktails at the Water’s Edge Lounge, tucked inside the hotel’s lush garden atrium.

Downtown Ramada Hotel and Convention Center Prairie Band Casino & Resort

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BEST RETIREMENT HOME ALDERSGATE VILLAGE aldersgatevillage.org

Families face a tough decision when a loved one’s health declines or is no longer able to stay at home. Aldersgate, a faith-based senior living community that champions patient-centered care and respect for residents, makes the choice a little easier with its continuum of care, from independent and assisted living residences to skilled nursing, home health care and physical rehabilitation services.

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Brewster Place Thornton Place

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THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Ann Liberda, who manages the kitchen at Tuptim Thai, invites Topekans to come to the restaurant to “eat real Thai.”

18 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016


BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT, BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD TUPTIM THAI RESTAURANT tuptimthaitopeka.com

A peek into the kitchen of Tuptim Thai reveals a delightful array of colors and scents. Chefs manning the woks draw from containers full of chili powder, Southeast Asian mushrooms and Thai basil as they whip up the restaurant’s classic dishes. The scene repeats itself day after day at 220 S.W. 29th St. as those favorites — from crab-and-cream-stuffed wontons to coconut milk-based green curries — are produced fresh, largely from locally sourced ingredients. Although the family who created Tuptim Thai recently sold to a chain that owns Asian restaurants in western Kansas, none of what the restaurant has built its reputation on is changing. The chefs, who share their Thai heritage through the art of cuisine, remain on staff, as does Ann Liberda, a family member who continues to manage the kitchen and invites Topekans to “come enjoy the food and eat real Thai.” Looking for tips? Among Liberda’s top recommendations is pad Thai, a famed rice noodle dish that conjures images of outdoor vendors on a bustling Thai street. “It’s very popular,” she said. “We cook a lot of those.” Keep an eye out for upgrades coming soon. Although many won’t be visible to guests — such as the new woks and other kitchen equipment — others will, including new furniture, glassware and an expanded wine list. — Celia Llopis-Jepsen

FIRST BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT RUNNER-UP Kiku Japanese Steak House SECOND RUNNER-UP HuHot Mongolian Grill FIRST BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD RUNNER-UP Jason’s Deli SECOND RUNNER-UP RowHouse Restaurant

THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Tuptim Thai prepares a variety of dishes, from street food to Thai curries.

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BEST PIZZA AJ’S NY PIZZERIA www.ajsnypizza.com

The foundation of good pizza is good crust, of course. That’s what sets AJ’s NY Pizzeria, 1930 S.W. Westport Drive, apart from other pizza shops in Topeka, said owner and namesake Adam Peyton. The hard-spring wheat dough is baked in a brick oven, giving it a distinct crisp crust before being topped. The customer’s choices of toppings — fresh cheese and vegetables, one of a dozen types of meat and low-acid marinara or specialty sauces — are layered on the crust, and then the pizza is placed in a conveyer oven to bake the top. “You kind of get the best of both worlds,” Peyton said, adding a pizza can be done in under 10 minutes. The Manhattan Margherita, topped with fresh mozzarella, sliced roma tomatoes, olive oil, basil and parmesan cheese, is AJ’s specialty, Peyton said. However, the restaurant has a medley of specialty pies, including the Hot Wing Pie, which starts with buffalo sauce and then adds breaded chicken breast, mozzarella and blue cheese crumbles. Sauces include a garlic-olive oil base, pesto, alfredo and barbecue. For those looking to make their own specialty pie, pizzas can be self-constructed. Sizes range from a single slice to a 14-inch large or an 18-inch extra large. A thicker-crust Sicilian is also available. AJ’s also has a lengthy list of fresh salads, hero sandwich options, pastas and calzones. When possible, Peyton said, the pizzeria buys locally grown produce, but the restaurant always uses low-acid tomato sauce. “If you get heartburn when you eat pizza, you’ll get less of it with us,” he said. — Luke Ranker

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Glory Days Pizza College Hill Pizza Pub THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

20 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

Adam Peyton, owner and namesake of AJ’s NY Pizzeria, says the crisp crusts of his pizzas are created by baking the dough in a brick oven.


BEST CHOCOLATES/DOUGHNUTS/PASTRIES BAKER’S DOZEN

facebook.com/Bakers-Dozen -386270011022/

THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Scott Woodman, a cashier at Baker’s Dozen, enjoys welcoming customers to the doughnut shop.

It is a sweet, sweet victory for Baker’s Dozen as the local shop snags the most votes for the city’s best doughnuts. Customers will find an assortment of tasty options at three Topeka locations: jelly- and creamfilled, chocolate, twists and iced with sprinkles. And there’s always classic glazed, too. But the shops at 4310 S.W. 21st St., 1949 N.W. Topeka Blvd. and 2601 S.W. 6th Ave. offer more than that. At a time when people have multiple places to find pastries — from grocery stores to gas stations to franchise shops — the Baker’s Dozen experience isn’t just about the delicious treats. It’s also about a welcoming atmosphere. While customers zip in and out with pastries to go, others mill around. Walk in midmorning and you may see a group of older men talking politics or gossiping while eating a long John or a dunker

Hazel Hill Chocolate Billy Vanilly

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dusted with powdered sugar. The shop’s reputation now precedes it. For some, it’s been the best doughnut shop for years. “I’ve tried many of the donut shops in Topeka, this one stands far above the others. Brought them to work one day and other people asked me about them — they are that good. Each location uses the same recipe and has the same great quality,” a reviewer wrote in 2014 on TripAdvisor. The post remains the shop’s top review on the site to this day. — Jonathan Shorman

BEST HAPPY HOUR, BEST WINE LIST BLUE MOOSE BAR & GRILL thebluemoosebarandgrill.com/topeka

The critter that inspired the Blue Moose Bar & Grill isn’t its only legendary feature. Manager Steve Miller thinks the establishment’s Best of Topeka accolades are due as much to the “Grill” as to the “Bar” elements of the Blue Moose, 3030 S.W. Wanamaker Road, which since opening in late 2011 has become the most successful of the Overland Park-based KC Hopps Ltd.’s same-named operations. The Blue Moose in Topeka sits at 3030 S.W. Wanamaker Road. The other three are in Johnson County, and new ones are slated to open this fall in Lawrence and Manhattan. “Not only do we have our drink specials, we also have specials on our food,” said Miller of the 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday happy hour. In addition to discounted prices on wine, beer and specialty drinks, happy-hour patrons can enjoy half-price appetizers. “I think what sets us apart is our food, because everything is made from scratch in our kitchen. That’s a big part of the success of our happy hour,” he said.

BEST HAPPY HOUR Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant Sonic Drive-In

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THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

The Blue Moose Bar & Grill is gaining a reputation for its happy hour, which features discounted prices on wine, beer and specialty drinks, and half-price appetizers. The Topeka location has become the most successful of the Overland Park-based KC Hopps Ltd.’s same-named operations.

“It’s also a nice place to hang out,” he added, speaking of the Blue Moose’s atmosphere and its popular patio. As for wine, Miller said, patrons on Tuesdays can pair their meals with an updated choice of 10 varieties priced at $10 a bottle. — Bill Blankenship

BEST WINE LIST Three Fires Steakhouse at Prairie Band Casino & Resort RowHouse Restaurant

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BEST COFFEE/TEA SHOP CLASSIC BEAN classicbean.com

Starbucks PT’s at College Hill

FIRST RUNNER-UP SECOND RUNNER-UP CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Tristan Johnson prepares a latte at the Classic Bean. In addition to serving European-style coffee and espresso drinks, the café also offers food.

Even people who don’t drink coffee can find grounds to enjoy Classic Bean Espresso Cafe. “More than just coffee” is the tagline for the business, said Juli Earl, who has owned Classic Bean since it opened in 1993 in downtown Topeka. Today, the business serves food and beverages at 722 S. Kansas Ave. and 2125 S.W. Fairlawn Plaza Drive, and operates a drive-through at 6750 S.W. Urish Road. Classic Bean provides more than just high-quality beverages featuring European-style coffee and espresso drinks, Earl said. It’s one of the few establishments in the capital city that offers performances by local musicians and hangs artworks created by local residents on its walls. Classic Bean customers also can find a wide variety of mouth-watering food offerings. “Nobody offers a bigger menu than we do,” Earl said. The menu includes sandwiches named after composers: the Beethoven, a steak burger; the Vivaldi, cheese and vegetables on oat-topped wheat bread; the Gershwin, smoked turkey and provolone on sourdough bread; and the Reubenstein, a Reuben sandwich with a play-on-words nod to 19th-century Russian composer Anton Rubenstein. Classic Bean’s website explains: “Like the art of classical music composers, our sandwiches have a composition of flavors sure to delight your taste buds.” — Tim Hrenchir

BEST ICE CREAM/YOGURT G’S FROZEN CUSTARD & YOGURT

facebook.com/pages/Gs-Frozen-Custard-Yogurt/115662015129824

Orange Leaf Cold Stone Creamery

FIRST RUNNER-UP SECOND RUNNER-UP THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Doug Colley, who bought G’s Frozen Custard & Yogurt from his parents nine years ago, says one of the store’s most popular flavors is Brown Bread. 22 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

If you’re in the mood for a treat that will take you back to yesteryear, you’ll want to make your way to G’s Frozen Custard & Yogurt, 1301 S.W. 6th Ave. In its 25th year, G’s has earned a reputation for preserving some of the capital city’s time-honored flavors. Want a cup or cone of Brown Bread? You won’t find it many places, but you can get it at G’s. How about lemon custard, the kind Grandma liked? G’s has that, too. Plus a variety of other flavors — smooth and oh-so creamy. G’s is a testament that a home-owned family business can survive in midtown Topeka if it provides an excellent product, reasonable prices and a clean environment. Owner Doug Colley, who has worked at G’s since he was in the eighth grade, bought the store from his parents nine years ago. He has kept it going strong, attracting scores of new customers along the way. For more than two decades, people have made a point of driving past other ice cream stores to go to G’s — it’s just that unique. In a building that 50 years ago housed Rider’s A&W Drive In, G’s is a throwback to a simpler time, when going out for ice cream was a treat for the entire family. Although times have changed, going to G’s is still a treat — and a habitforming one, at that. — Phil Anderson


BEST FINE DINING RESTAURANT, BEST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT ROWHOUSE RESTAURANT rowhouserestaurant.net

When Greg Fox opened RowHouse Restaurant nine years ago in a quaint, narrow house at 515 S.W. Van Buren St., Wednesday nights were preview nights. Rather than choose their dinner, patrons tasted everything on an everchanging menu. “We found that the majority of people, probably 90 percent, liked doing the tasting. That was our biggest seller, so we just flipped the switch and went to that after everybody embraced it,” Fox recalled. One week, the entree may be mulberry-glazed salmon with sweet-corn succotash and sautéed baby bok choy. The next week, the main course may change to sliced beef tenderloin with a peach glaze, roasted zucchini and potato latke. “We really work, as a team, to stay on top of food trends around the world, not just in the United States. We are always researching,” Fox said. RowHouse menus are crafted with four dynamics in mind: seasonal trends, available produce, culinary trends and what sounds appetizing to Fox that week. The restaurant’s romanticism emanates from its small rooms and courtyard seating. Fox prefers the adjective “intimate” over “romantic,” but he agrees RowHouse is both. “We really try to make sure people are comfortable,” he said. “We try to bring them into the atmosphere so they feel this is what dining out should be.” — Justin Wingerter

FIRST BEST FINE DINING RESTAURANT RUNNER-UP Blue Moose Bar & Grill SECOND Three Fires Steakhouse RUNNER-UP at Prairie Band Casino & Resort FIRST BEST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT RUNNER-UP Paisano’s Ristorante SECOND Three Fires Steakhouse RUNNER-UP at Prairie Band Casino & Resort CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Greg Fox, chef and owner of RowHouse Restaurant, prepares vegetables for one of his special dinners. THE TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL 23


BEST PLACE FOR BREAKFAST HANOVER PANCAKE HOUSE hanoverpancakehouse.com

Longhouse Buffet at Prairie Band Casino & Resort Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

FIRST RUNNER-UP SECOND RUNNER-UP CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Bill Disney cooks bacon and hash browns at Hanover Pancake House, which recently underwent some renovations.

24 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

Owners Scott and Jean Albrecht didn’t try anything flashy with the recent renovation of Hanover Pancake House. There was no need. Even though a July sewer line break accelerated plans to renovate the restaurant and forced its closure through early August, the Albrechts had no shortage of prospective customers during the downtime. “I get lots of people at the door almost every day wanting a good meal, or at least they come up and see our signs,” Scott Albrecht said in July, gesturing at a truck that had begun to turn into the parking lot at 1034 S. Kansas Ave. before its driver corrected back onto the street. “Look, there’s another one.” The sewer line break placed the Albrechts in a position where they were

determined to not fix what wasn’t broken while still offering a new appeal to their customers. “When customers come in here … they’ll see much of what’s made us successful before, with a new finish,” Albrecht said, referring to the newly painted walls decorated with bright artwork. Success has come by providing excellent table service and tasty food. The breakfast menu lists waffles, French toast, biscuits and gravy, and several types of meat-and-egg combos, omelets and, of course, pancakes. As downtown continues to grow, he added, Hanover’s key to continued success will be to offer an affordable, quick and high-quality alternative to continental breakfasts and in-house restaurants for people staying at hotels and attending political or business events. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said, “and we appreciate the public’s support.” — Marcus Clem


UNPARALLELED NEWS COVERAGE IN THE PAST YEAR ... KC Press Club’s Heart of America Awards 19 awards, including seven golds: • Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Tim Carpenter and Justin Wingerter, Public Service Project • Celia Llopis-Jepsen, General Reporting • Samantha Foster, Ann Marie Bush and Luke Ranker, Deadline Reporting • Phil Anderson, Breaking News Photojournalism • Thad Allton, Feature Photojournalism • Chris Neal, Sports Photography • Josh Rouse, Graphic

Kansas Press Association’s Awards of Excellence 10 first-place awards

• Jan Biles, Series • Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Education Story • Justin Wingerter and Emily DeShazer, Best Story/ Picture Combination • Chris Neal, Sports Photo • Josh Rouse, Infographic • Emily DeShazer, Best Online Video (feature) • Editorial Pages • Sports Pages • Best Front Page • Community Service Project (Volunteer Topeka)

EPPY Best News Website, finalist

• Tim Carpenter, Best Investigative Feature, finalist

Boyd Community Service Award

• Volunteer Topeka, a public service project connecting nonprofits with volunteers

Education Writers Association National Awards for Education Reporting • Celia Llopis-Jepsen, finalist

Easter Seals Capper Foundation • 2015 Media and Marketing Award

Ravitch Fiscal Reporting Program • Jonathan Shorman, selectee

American Press Institute Summit • Jonathan Shorman, selectee

Renaissance Journalism Conference • Celia Llopis-Jepsen, speaker

Education Writers Association Annual Conference • Celia Llopis-Jepsen, speaker

Our journalists don’t just win awards. They’re experts in their fields.


BEST BARBECUE LONNIE Q’S BBQ lonnieqsbbq.com

Timing is everything if you want the ribs at this small restaurant just outside Deer Creek Valley RV Park in southeast Topeka. Only served on Thursdays and Fridays, the full- and half-slabs often run out quickly. When that happens, barbecue lovers fall back on Lonnie Q’s equally delicious pulled pork, beef brisket and turkey to get their fix.

Boss Hawg’s Barbecue & Catering Hog Wild Pit-Bar-B-Q & Catering

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BEST BUFFET GOLDEN CORRAL goldencorral.com

When you’re as hungry as a cowhand for wholesome, familiar foods, grab a plate and sidle up to the “endless” and affordable buffet at the familyfriendly Golden Corral. Choices abound — from sirloin steak to seafood, mac and cheese to mashed potatoes, iced cakes to ice cream.

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HuHot Mongolian Grill Longhorn Buffet at Prairie Band Casino & Resort

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BEST BURGER THE BURGER STAND burgerstandrestaurants.com

Gourmet burgers and cold beers are the stage-taking stars at this casual College Hill neighborhood eatery, but hot dogs, salads and sides are waiting in the wings. Outdoor patio seating and the Pong Bar, with its ping pong and pool tables and arcade games, are pluses, too.

Bobo’s Drive In The Pad

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BEST CATERING COMPANY ABOUD’S CATERING abouds.com

Whether it’s for a group of 15 or 5,000, Aboud’s homemade hors d’oeuvres, hand-cut Kansas beef entrees and delicate desserts have been the hit at special events for nearly 25 years. You know a caterer is good when it’s deemed “preferred” or “exclusive” by 10 major venues in Topeka, Lawrence and Manhattan.

Sweet Dreams Catering Topeka Hy-Vee

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BEST DELI/SANDWICH SHOP JASON’S DELI jasonsdeli.com

Building a sandwich is easy at Jason’s: Decide the size, pick a bread, choose a meat and cheese, and select the spreads and trimmings. Done. Pair it with a warm soup, spicy gumbo or crisp salad, if you like. Pastas and potatoes lay the foundation for the deli’s entrees.

Herman’s Meat & Smokehouse Schlotzsky’s

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BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT PAISANO’S RISTORANTE paisanoskansas.com

This “Best of” repeater brings the palatial cuisine of Italy to the prairie with such favorites as Fantastico, a 15-layer lasagna, and Sicilian Spaghetti, with Italian sausage, peppers, onions, bolognese sauce and meatball topper. Wine and cocktail specials run each day.

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant LaRocca’s Pizza

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BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT EL MEZCAL

facebook.com/El-Mezcal-III-122843564401804 Take your taste buds on a journey south of the border with the robust flavors of the authentic Mexican fare at El Mezcal: tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, tamales and burritos. Put an exclamation point on the meal with sweetdoughed sopapillas and on-the-rock or frozen margaritas.

Taco Villa Jose Peppers

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BEST PLACE FOR LUNCH

LONGHOUSE BUFFET AT PRAIRIE BAND CASINO & RESORT prairieband.com/dining/the-longhouse-buffet

A short drive north of Topeka, this lunchtime favorite offers a bountiful weekday buffet in a setting enhanced by a fireplace, stone columns and earth-tone color scheme tied to the architectural elements of the casino floor. On weekends, breakfast and lunch couple for a savory and sweet 8-to4 brunch.

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The Pad Lonnie Q’s BBQ

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BEST OUTDOOR DINING, BEST PLACE TO GET A COLD BEER BLIND TIGER BREWERY & RESTAURANT blindtiger.com

The industrial look of the brewhouse and fermenters contrasts with the relaxed vibe of the bar, atrium and deck of the Blind Tiger, the first craft brewery to roar into Topeka. Six flagship beers usually are on tap, and steaks, barbecue and bison burgers tame ferocious appetites.

BEST OUTDOOR DINING Blue Moose Bar & Grill College Hill Pizza Pub

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BEST PLACE TO GET A COLD BEER Prairie Band Casino & Resort The Lazy Toad

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BEST SPORTS BAR

TAILGATORS SPORTS PUB & GRUB

facebook.com/Tailgators-Sports-Pub-Grub-621348144556389 Multiple television screens let sports fans follow the Royals, Chiefs, Jayhawks and Wildcats while chowing down on burgers, chili dogs, quesadillas, hot wings and other winners. Drink specials are posted every day. Hear the cheering? That’s the regulars having fun.

The Lazy Toad Buffalo Wild Wings

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BEST STEAK TEXAS ROADHOUSE

texasroadhouse.com/restaurant-locations/kansas/topeka You don’t have to have spurs on your boots to know this roadhouse is rowdy-good. Start with a fried-onion Cactus Blossom with Cajun horseradish sauce, followed by a thick Porterhouse T-bone and apple pie with ice cream and honey-cinnamon-caramel sauce. You’ll be popping buttons before you leave.

LongHorn Steakhouse North Star Steakhouse

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BEST DANCE STUDIO

CENTER STAGE DANCE WORLD centerstagedanceworld.weebly.com

The Dance Factory Beverly Bernardi Post Conservatory of Dance

FIRST RUNNER-UP SECOND RUNNER-UP THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Dancers of Center Stage Dance World gain self-esteem, as well as learn dance techniques at the studio.

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Dance is so much more than competition. It’s a chance for expression, a source of joy, a boost of confidence. An appreciation of everything dance offers is a guiding principle of Center Stage Dance World, founded by a Topeka family determined to share their love for the art form with others. They’ve done so at their studio for 24 years. “Dance was something I had done my whole life, from the time I was 3 years old,” said Angie Price, who owns Center Stage with her sister, Amber Bonnell. The sisters studied dance at Washburn University, when the university offered a degree in the subject, and Price now coaches the Washburn Dancing Blues. Price’s daughter, Josie Dease, teaches at Center Stage, in addition to coaching the Seaman High School Vikettes dance team and Viking marching band auxiliary dance team. Bonnell’s 10-year-old son, Dawson, dances at the studio. Classes run the gamut at Center Stage, 3909 S.W. Burlingame Road, where tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary and hip hop seem to hit the beat with young dancers. Students are accepted regardless of skill level, and parents are welcome to watch their children’s classes. “The goal of our studio, teaching these young people to dance, is to give them great, wonderful self-esteem,” Price said. — Celia Llopis-Jepsen


BEST ART GALLERY

NOTO ARTS DISTRICT notoshopping.com

For some decades, the only art appreciation happening in downtown North Topeka was one patron in a seedy bar admiring the tattoo of another while they downed shots and beers. Now, art galleries populate the 800 and 900 blocks of N. Kansas Avenue in what is known as the NOTO Arts District. North Topeka once had a vibrant downtown. It deteriorated through flooding in 1951, the collapse of the old Kansas Avenue Bridge in 1965 and a bridge replacement that no longer directly linked the downtowns on both sides of the Kaw River. North Topeka’s downtown became known for its dives and an adult movie theater, which became obsolete with the growth of home videos and the Internet. All that changed at the start of this decade with the creation of the NOTO Arts District through efforts led by a board co-chaired by Topekans Anita Wolgast and John Hunter. Through private investment and without tax dollars, NOTO not only has become an area of art galleries, but it also is home to cafes and coffee shops, a dance studio, antique stores, venues for wedding receptions and other businesses. And you can still see a great tattoo there, thanks to the body art created at Matryoshka Tattoo, just one of the businesses in the district. — Bill Blankenship

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Mulvane Art Museum Yeldarb Gallery REX WOLF/SPECIAL TO THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Face painting is a popular activity during the First Friday Art Walk in the NOTO Arts District in North Topeka.

BEST ETHNIC EVENT INFIESTANORTHEAST KANSAS MEXICANA facebook.com/TopekaFiestaMexicana

CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Margaret Martinez, chairwoman of Fiesta Mexicana, says authentic Mexican food and entertainment attract thousands of people to the annual festival.

Germanfest Prairie Band Potawatomi Powwow

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“Fiesta” translates from Spanish to English as “party,” and when it comes to throwing a great one, Best of Topeka voters tipped their sombreros to Fiesta Mexicana. There’s no doubt Our Lady of Guadalupe Church’s annual festival is an ethnic celebration. For five days each July, the Roman Catholic parish, founded in 1914 to serve Spanishspeaking immigrants from Mexico, shares with thousands of northeast Kansans traditional food, music, dance, art and culture. Although the church’s first fiesta was in 1933, it faded in scope until its revival in the 1970s at the urging of the Rev. Ramon Gaitan, pastor of the church at that time. He encour-

aged parishioners to grow the fiesta into the church’s main fundraiser for its elementary school. Gaitan also had another goal. “We were also trying to help people be proud of their heritage, of their culture and of their traditions,” he said. Church volunteers, including many who no longer live in Topeka but plan their vacations for fiesta time, put in countless hours to staff the fiesta and prepare and serve the food for which people stand in long lines to buy. “People come in and enjoy our food, but we also have great entertainment,” said fiesta chairwoman Margaret Martinez, who also cited the festival’s art show, carnival, merchants and children’s activities. “There’s something for everybody.” — Bill Blankenship THE TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL 31


BEST CASINO, BEST PLACE FOR LIVE ENTERTAINMENT, BEST PLACE TO TAKE AN OUT-OF-TOWNER PRAIRIE BAND CASINO & RESORT prairieband.com

Best of Topeka voters sent a clear message: There’s no rolling the dice on having fun when you go to Prairie Band Casino & Resort. While technically not in Topeka, the casino-resort might as well be. It’s just a 15-minute drive from the city, north on US-75 highway to 12305 150th Road near Mayetta. The casino boasts more than 1,100 slots and 30 table games, according to its website. Single, double and multi-deck blackjack games beckon players, in addition to such lively classics as craps, roulette and mini-baccarat. The number of games is expanding, said John Tuckwin, director of casino marketing. “We’ve just opened up bingo this past year. It seats about 400 spots in bingo,” Tuckwin said. “We’ll have expanded gaming that will probably be open here in the next couple of months.” Live entertainment is also an option. The Great Lakes Ballroom stages a variety of acts and performers, including Grammy Award-winning Blues Traveler on Oct. 1 and country music legend Loretta Lynn on Oct. 21. — Jonathan Shorman

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FIRST BEST CASINO RUNNER-UP Golden Eagle Casino SECOND RUNNER-UP Sac & Fox Casino FIRST BEST PLACE TO TAKE AN OUT-OF-TOWNER RUNNER-UP Topeka Zoo SECOND RUNNER-UP NOTO Arts District FIRST BEST PLACE FOR LIVE ENTERTAINMENT RUNNER-UP Topeka Performing Arts Center SECOND RUNNER-UP Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy/Helen Hocker Theater CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Mario Ortiz, right, and Micki Oechel play the slot machines at Prairie Band Casino & Resort. The casino has more than 1,100 slots and 30 table games.

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BEST EVENT IN NORTHEAST KANSAS, BEST FREE ENTERTAINMENT FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK BY ARTSCONNECT artsconnecttopeka.org

Topekans circle the first Friday of each month on their calendars for a reason. Hundreds of people join the “art trek” to galleries and exhibition spaces across the capital city, and especially the NOTO Arts

BEST EVENT IN NORTHEAST KANSAS Kicker Country Stampede Keepers of the Fire BBQ Contest at Prairie Band Casino & Resort

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District, to rub elbows with the community’s creative spirits — painters, sculptors, photographers, printmakers, fiber artists. Music, food and children’s activities make for a family-friendly affair.

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BEST FREE ENTERTAINMENT Gage Park Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

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BEST FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT TOPEKA ZOO topekazoo.org

Walk through the tropical rainforest on the 32 developed acres of the zoo and notice the subtle sights and sounds of nature — flapping of wings, a quick slither through the foliage. Elsewhere on the grounds, hippos swim in a 28,000-gallon water pool, endangered Sumatran tigers roar and children press their faces against the walls of a glass tunnel walkway to get a closer look at gorillas.

Gage Park Kansas Expocentre events

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BEST PLACE FOR RECEPTION/EVENT LAKE SHAWNEE

parks.snco.us/index.aspx?nid=136 Ted Ensley Gardens, the jewel of Lake Shawnee, offers an escape from the hustle-bustle of the city and a beautiful setting for weddings, receptions and other special events. Cross a 60-foot covered bridge over a rocky stream. Stroll through rock and rose gardens, and marvel at the panoramic view of the sparkling lake. And definitely come back in the spring when thousands of tulips and daffodils burst with color.

Prairie Band Casino & Resort Great Overland Station

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BEST LOCAL HISTORICAL SITE

BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE nps.gov/brvb/index.htm

The exhibits at the historic Monroe School tell the story of the Topeka lawsuit that eventually paved the way for the landmark Supreme Court decision that ended segregation in public schools. Learn about the ordinary people — teachers, ministers, students, attorneys — who wanted to be treated equally and whose hope and courage changed the world.

Kansas Statehouse Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site

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BEST MUSEUM

KANSAS MUSEUM OF HISTORY kshs.org/museum

What do Carry A. Nation’s hammer and Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s boots have in common? They’re both in the collections at the award-winning museum that narrates the rich history of the Sunflower State. Santa Fe Railway’s oldest surviving locomotive and a 1914 Longren biplane reveal the state’s transportation legacy, while wartime artifacts speak to the sacrifices made by ordinary Kansans.

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Kansas Children’s Discovery Center Combat Air Museum

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BEST ORGANIC/ HEALTH FOOD STORE NATURAL GROCERS naturalgrocers.com

All of the produce at Natural Grocers is organic. That means customers don’t have to wonder what they are purchasing, said store manager Brian Phillips. The company maintains a high standard for all of the products it carries, and every product goes through a screening and approval process. The growing chain, which was founded in 1955 in Colorado and opened a store three years ago at 5836 S.W. 21st St., also takes pride in keeping prices affordable. “We feel healthy food should be available to all people,” Phillips said. The store also features a wide selection of natural supplements. Other unique aspects of the company are free classes and events. An onstaff nutrition health coach provides food demonstrations and presentations on healthy living. One-on-one coaching sessions — also free — may be helpful to anyone looking to eat better or with a particular medical condition. The coach is available to do an individualized walk-through of the store to point out products that may be beneficial. “The response from the community has been fantastic,” Phillips said, “and we’re looking forward to being here for a long time.” — Katie Moore

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Topeka Hy-Vee Akin’s Natural Foods CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Ryan Caldwell, produce manager at Natural Grocers, restocks bundles of carrots at the store. All of the produce at the store is organically grown.


BEST TATTOO SHOP FINE LINE TATTOO & BODY PIERCING finelinetopeka.com

Fine Line Tattoo & Body Piercing has left its mark on Topeka. In 1979, Teddie Fischer’s parents, Jon and Rogene Handlon, founded the business, which has operated the past 14 years at 1915 S.W. Gage Blvd. Fine Line is now co-owned by Fischer and her daughter, Heather Beam. When asked about the secret of its popularity, Fischer said: “We are a family business. We treat people the way we’d like to be treated ourselves.” Also, she added, those who work at Fine Line love what they do and get along well with each other. During the time Fine Line has been in business, tattoos have become socially acceptable. About 75 percent of Fine Line’s business involves tattoos and about 25 percent involves body piercings. Fischer said some of the most popular tattoos among Fine Line customers are yin-yang designs, Bible verses, memorials to loved ones and a single semicolon, which emerged from a movement dedicated to sharing hope and love with people who are struggling. — Tim Hrenchir

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Olympus Ink Looking Glass Tattoo & Gallery THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Teddie Fischer, co-owner of Fine Line Tattoo & Body Piercing, shows a steady hand as she finishes a tattoo for Terry Ralston.

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BEST NEW AUTO DEALER, BEST TIRE STORE, BEST USED AUTO DEALER ED BOZARTH CHEVROLET BUICK GMC edbozarthoftopeka.com

Ed Bozarth Chevrolet Buick GMC gets plenty of business from customers looking for American-built cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. The dealership, 3731 S.W. Topeka Blvd., not only sells new cars made in America, it also offers vehicles made right here in Kansas. Some of the Chevrolet vehicles on the lot come from a plant in Kansas City, Kan. For many years, Ed Bozarth sold only Chevrolets on its car lot, but in recent years, the business has expanded its inventory to include new Buicks and GMC products — this in addition to a wide variety of used vehicles. Chris Spargo, president of the dealership, said people are finding some of the best cars on the road today at Ed Bozarth, and the quality of the vehicles is a major draw in bringing customers back for repeat purchases. However, Spargo added, the main reason for Ed Bozarth’s long-term success and many repeat customers has to do with the people who work at the dealership.

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“It’s definitely our employees,” he said. “We have a great group of employees. They know how to treat the customers right.” A good number of Ed Bozarth employees have been with the dealership for dozens of years, Spargo said. That group includes employees in the sales, service and body departments. Spargo knows what he speaks: He has been at the dealership for 34 years. “Larry Jackson, our service manager, has been here almost 40 years,” he said. “He knows almost everybody who comes in here by name.” The relationships that employees have developed with customers through the years have helped keep the dealership strong and growing. “We are a very low-pressure dealership,” Spargo said. “We do business on a handshake, and people know that.” — Phil Anderson


FIRST BEST NEW AUTO DEALER RUNNER-UP Laird Noller Topeka Ford SECOND RUNNER-UP John Hoffer Chrysler Jeep FIRST BEST TIRE STORE RUNNER-UP Goodyear Auto Service Center SECOND RUNNER-UP Performance Tire & Wheel FIRST BEST USED AUTO DEALER RUNNER-UP Laird Noller Topeka Ford SECOND RUNNER-UP John Hoffer Chrysler Jeep THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Chris Spargo, president of Ed Bozarth Chevrolet Buick GMC, says the car dealership’s success lies with its employees, who “know how to treat the customers right.”

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THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Cliff Wright, left, and Steve Gleason, co-owners of University Flowers, have operated the floral business for 25 years. Gleason holds one of their dogs that greet customers as they come into the shop.

BEST FLORIST UNIVERSITY FLOWERS floristtopekaks.com

The love comes early when you step inside the front door of University Flowers. Harley, Lucy, Chasifer and Daisy Mae Rosalina come running with tails wagging, closely followed by upbeat co-owners Cliff Wright and Steve Gleason. For 25 years, Wright and Gleason have operated the floral business, near the northeast corner of Washburn University. The shop originally was on the north side of S.W. 17th Street and moved to 1700 S.W. Washburn Ave. in 2000. The shop sells single-stem flowers — 200 to one customer in a day is the record — as well as floral arrangements and plants. They supplement their supply with irises, peonies and other blooms grown at their home. “Steve and I handle every flower,” Wright said. Their best-seller? Stargazer lilies. Gleason is known for his creative, personalized designs — a recent casket spray incorporated cowboy boots and blue carnations. The shop also sells home décor items and antique furniture and glassware. Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day find Wright and Gleason working overtime to fill orders. And for years, the florists have set the stage for local high school and university commencements and other special community events. Their most high-profile — and nerve-wracking — undertaking? A Kansas Expocentre stage from where first lady Michelle Obama delivered a televised address to local high school graduates in May 2014. “We got great reviews from the Washington people,” Wright said. — Jan Biles

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Porterfield’s Custenborder Florist


THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

From left, Larry Pressman, Colleen Velez, Debbie Briman Latta, Carol Briman and Rob Briman are excited about the future of Briman’s Leading Jewelers, a full-service jewelry store in downtown Topeka.

BEST JEWELRY STORE BRIMAN’S LEADING JEWELERS brimansleadingjewelers.com

Briman’s Leading Jewelers is a full-service jewelry store with everything from pearl strands to watch batteries. But it’s the diamonds — in rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants — that dazzle customers walking through the front doors at 734 S. Kansas Ave. “We do the majority of our business in diamonds,” said Debbie Briman Latta, president of the family-owned and –operated business. “And once (a customer) has bought all the diamonds they can, they move on to colored (gem)stones.” Rob Briman, vice president of the jewelry company, said the business was started by his great-grandfather Morris Briman, who emigrated from the Prussia-Poland area of eastern Europe and settled in Topeka in about 1910. He tried several lines of work before opening a business at 510 S. Kansas Ave. that eventually would grow into today’s firm. Briman’s evolved from a department store selling clocks and luggage in the early 20th century to a business dedicated to high-end jewelry in 1940. The jewelry store operated at several locations in the capital city and Lawrence before establishing a single store in downtown Topeka. “We really pride ourselves on quality. That’s what we build our name on,” Latta said. And if they lack what you want in stock, don’t worry. “If you want something and we don’t have it, like a charm or brooch,” Latta said, “we will work hard to find that piece for you.” — Jan Biles

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Calhoun’s Jewelers Kay Jewelers


BEST LIQUOR STORE DEVLIN’S WINE & SPIRITS devlinsliquor.com

THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Clayton Devlin, owner of Devlin’s Wine & Spirits, looks over some of the wine stocked in the store at 2850 S.W. Wanamaker Road.

Vern’s Retail Liquor Pit Pass Liquor

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Devlin’s Wine & Spirits owner Clayton Devlin says the market for craft beer has “exploded” in recent years. The business has kept pace by expanding — to 22 from four — the number of cooler doors behind which it makes craft beer available to buyers at its older store at 2850 S.W. Wanamaker Road. Devlin said his two liquor stores — the second is at 4301 S.W. 21st St. — work to give customers what they want by providing the city’s largest selection of beer, specialty beers, wine and spirits. Devlin’s parents, Pat and Lynda Devlin, opened the store on S.W. Wanamaker in 1992, followed by the other store in 1998. The younger Devlin began running the stores the day after he graduated from Kansas State University in 2006. He attributes the business’ success to its employees, pricing, selection, loyal customers and use of promotions. Devlin’s Wine & Spirits offers beer and wine clubs, for which members receive information about the stores’ beers and wines. The business also offers free tastings of its “wine of the week” from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays at its Wanamaker location and sends customers an email every two weeks detailing its special price offerings. “We’ll just keep trying to improve every day,” Devlin said. “That’s my goal … to improve every day so then the customers have a better experience.” — Tim Hrenchir

BEST ANTIQUE STORE 4 GIRLS’ GARAGE 4girlsgarage.com

THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

4 Girls’ Garage offers customers a variety of unique items, many of which have been repainted, rebuilt, up-cycled or repurposed. From left are owners Debbie Geist, Erin Hatton, Sandy Martin and Carol Ingenthron.

Brickhouse Antiques Wheatland Antique Mall 44 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

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Who would think to turn a chicken feeder into a light fixture? Or a huge rotary brush from janitorial cleaning equipment into a sunflower-like wall hanging? The Queens of Repurposing, of course. In August 2012, Debbie Geist, Erin Hatton, Sandy Martin and Carol Ingenthron opened 4 Girls’ Garage in a three-story building at 837 N. Kansas Ave. in the NOTO Arts District. Formerly an Odd Fellows meeting hall with a ballroom on the third floor, they retained its tin ceiling and exposed the structure’s interior rock wall, along with its horse-hair grout. “We are so happy to be in the arts district because of the creativity and support,” Geist said. “The redevelopment down here has been exciting.” The choice and renovation of the building falls right into the 4 Girls’ Garage mission: to provide customers a variety of quality and unique items, many of which have been repainted, rebuilt, upcycled or repurposed. “We try to be unique and different,” Ingenthron said. That means shopping at flea markets and estate sales, and networking with antique pickers to find furniture and decor items. “We find one-of-a-kind things and put our little touch on them,” Geist added. Name it, and you’ll probably find it among the hundreds of items at 4 Girls’ Garage. And repeat shoppers likely will see something new with each visit, because items are priced to sell to keep the inventory rotating. “It’s changing constantly,” Geist said. — Jan Biles


BEST MOTORCYCLE/ RV DEALER

HISTORIC HARLEY-DAVIDSON OF TOPEKA historicharley.com

For each of its 67 years, Historic Harley-Davidson of Topeka has striven to learn how to be a better dealership, said owner Mike Patterson. What makes the Topeka Harley-Davidson business stand out is staff longevity. At most dealerships, Patterson said, employees stay about a year, but in Topeka the average is 10 years. “Our people really love motorcycling,” he said of the 25 full-time staff members. “They know what they’re doing, and they know how to take care of our customers.” The full-service dealership offers the latest models of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, as well as customization. A team of technicians restores Harleys of any year, and a full line of Harley-Davidson apparel is on display. “We can personalize the person and the bike,” Patterson said. One of the most important services the business provides is a four-day motorcycling riding class. Between 12 and 15 classes are offered per year for $300 each, and most sell out, he said. Beyond the Harley-Davidson line, the business houses Henry’s BBQ Grill, a motorcycle museum and soon an Evel Knievel museum. —Luke Ranker

CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Dave Larson works on a motorcycle in the service area at Historic Harley-Davidson of Topeka.

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Anderson Enterprises Inc. Topeka Powersports

BEST PLACE TO BUY PHOTO EQUIPMENT WOLFE’S CAMERA SHOP wolfes.com

Technology has changed dramatically during the 92 years Wolfe’s Camera Shop has operated, but the focus has always been the same. “We try to be everything to everybody if it’s related to photo imagery,” said Mike Worswick, CEO of the business. “In the evolution of Wolfe’s, it’s always been about the pictures.” A small part of the business these days is selling film and film cameras, Worswick said. Instead, the emphasis is on digital cameras, teaching photography techniques and instructing people in one-on-one coaching sessions on how to use their cameras or cellphones as image-taking tools. While it’s not the ideal camera in many situations, Worswick describes the iPhone as the “moment of spontaneity picture-taking device.” The picture quality of an iPhone can be good enough for an image to be transformed into an 8-by10-inch or 11-by-14-inch print that can be mounted on metal and presented as a gift or wall art, he said. The goal of Wolfe’s, 635 S. Kansas Ave., has always been to try “to meet the needs of the consumer,” Worswick said. “That’s what makes a business stay in business,” he noted. Restoration of old photographs and learning how to store new photographs properly also are goals of the business. — Steve Fry

EMILY DESHAZER/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Mike Worswick, CEO of Wolfe’s Camera Shop, gestures toward a wall of photos at the store, which has been in operation for 92 years.

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Best Buy Sam’s Club THE TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL 45


BEST GARDEN STORE/NURSERY SKINNER GARDEN STORE skinnergardenstore.com

For 60 years, seasoned and novice growers have depended on Skinners for the flowers, vegetables, shrubs, trees and grasses to make their gardens and lawns the envy of neighbors. The staff is ripe with planting and landscaping advice, and if your thumb is more brown than green, their experts can come to the rescue.

Jackson’s Greenhouse & Garden Center Blackburn Nursery

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BEST GROCERY STORE DILLONS dillons.com

Topeka Hy-Vee

Convenience and low prices are the keys to this familiar grocer’s success. Under one roof, a consumer can find the meats, fresh produce and bakery items to feed their families, flowers to perk up the dinner table, medications to maintain their health, supplies to clean their homes and rows of other products essential to everyday life.

Aldi

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BEST HOBBY STORE HOBBY LOBBY hobbylobby.com

Hunting a frame for that selfie with your new love? Need supplies for scrapbooking or knitting? Looking for party supplies or advice on a DIY project? Walk through the doors of Hobby Lobby to find the inspiration and items you need. It’s a safe bet you’ll find a must-have absent from your shopping list.

Michaels Dee and Mee Hobbies

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BEST NEW BUSINESS

HOG WILD PIT-BAR-B-Q & CATERING hogwildpitbbq.com

Just the thought of Hog Wild’s slow-smoked pit barbecue — succulent pulled pork, tender brisket, spicy hot links, meaty ribs — is your mouth watering yet? Cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and mac and cheese head the on-the-side list.

Pie Five Pizza Co. Five Guys Burgers and Fries

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BEST THRIFT STORE/FLEA MARKET GOODWILL TOPEKA

mokangoodwill.org/locations/goodwill-topeka Bargains become esteem-builders at this thrift store. With its “hand-up not a handout” directive, Goodwill sells donated used items to raise money for programs that assist the disadvantaged and those with different abilities to find and keep jobs.

Maj-R Thrift God’s Storehouse

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BEST FURNITURE STORE FURNITURE MALL OF KANSAS furnituremallofkansas.com

The merger of Mattress Headquarters, Flooring Headquarters and three furniture stores — Discovery, RoomMakers and Marling’s — gave birth in 2013 to this mall-concept retailer. The family-owned business, with roots reaching as far back as the 1930s, gives customers an enormous selection sans the big-box feel.

Nebraska Furniture Mart Kansas Furniture Mart

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BEST GAME SHOP GAMESTOP

gamestop.com/store/us/ks/topeka/2734/wanamaker-shopping-center-gamestop Enjoy an Easter Egg hunt or retro video games? Willing to stand in line for the new Justice League title? This video game shop is where geeks, nerds and gamers can find the latest releases alongside Mario, Pokemon and other old favorites. Free-for-all players, role-playing gamers and simulation fans welcome.

Vintage Stock Gamers HQ

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BEST CONVENIENCE STORE KWIK SHOP kwikshop.com

The countrywide chain of grocery-gas station combos criss-crosses the landscape of Topeka, offering drinks to cool you down in the summer and warm you up in the winter, snacks to curb your hunger and gasoline to fill your tank — and, of course, lottery tickets to stoke your dreams.

Topeka Hy-Vee Casey’s General Store

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BEST FLOORING STORE ABSOLUTE HARDWOOD FLOORS absolutehardwoodfloorsllc.com

With the motto “Not the Biggest but the Best,” Absolute’s skilled professionals take seriously the craft of restoring old hardwood floors so they’ll look brand-new. Add in a wide selection of woods, colors and designs and watch them transform your home into a showcase.

Carpet One Floor & Home Capital City Flooring

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BEST PLACE TO BUY CLOTHES KOHL’S

kohls.com/stores/ks/topeka-234.shtml Fashionable fall sweaters, snow-stomping boots, floral-patterned dresses and hiking shorts — this retailer has something for every season. But that’s not all. Jewelry, watches, handbags, wallets, scarves, hats and other accessories can create a complete look that will make heads turn.

Dillard’s JCPenney

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BEST PLACE TO BUY FORMAL CLOTHES DILLARD’S

dillards.com/stores/west-ridge-mall/0336 You may not have many occasions to dress to the nines, but when you do, this department store has your number. Point-collar dress shirts, impeccable ties, leather shoes, sterling cuff links and well-fitted suits shape a sharpdressed man. Beautiful gowns, beaded clutches, peep-toe pumps, teardrop earrings and crystal bracelets turn the spotlight toward an elegantly styled woman.

David’s Bridal Men’s Wearhouse

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BEST PLACE TO BUY SPORTS APPAREL, BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE ACADEMY SPORTS+OUTDOORS

www.academy.com/shop/storelocator/kansas/topeka/store-0225 From fishing and camping gear to athletic apparel, this premier sports, outdoor and active lifestyle retailer kicks it up a notch. You’ll get your daily

step count in as you walk around the store to scout out the merchandise. Hint: Check out the T-shirts for the logos of your favorite sports teams.

BEST PLACE TO BUY SPORTS APPAREL

BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE

Dick’s Sporting Goods Rally House/ Kansas Sampler Topeka

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Dick’s Sporting Goods Capp’s Bike Shop

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EMILY DESHAZER/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

CoreFirst Bank & Trust is the only bank in Topeka that is open seven days a week. From left are Israel Sanchez, marketing assistant; Linda Woodland, senior vice president; Kurt E. Kuta, president and CEO; Garry G. Cushinberry, senior vice president of community relations; and John Fager, senior director of sales and marketing.

BEST BANK

COREFIRST BANK & TRUST

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Capitol Federal Savings Bank U.S. Bank

cbtks.com

Since 1959, CoreFirst Bank & Trust has brought convenient banking to Topekans. Now, the financial institution focuses as much on mobile banking as it does on in-person transactions. CoreFirst offers several mobile and online banking options, including e-statements, online transfers and online bill pay. “We have a tremendous number of people banking with us online, and it’s grown,” said John Fager, the bank’s senior director of sales and marketing. A mobile app for Android and Apple smart50 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

phones and tablets not only brings those features to the palms of customers’ hands, but it also allows check deposit. Customers simply take a photo of the check to make the transaction. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation regulations ensure CoreFirst’s mobile and Internet options are safe and secure, Fager said. “Customer information and security is paramount,” he noted. But many people still want to do business face to face. That’s why Fager said the bank is the only one in Topeka open seven days a

week, and its most important asset is the bank’s staff. “They have a passion and dedication to providing top-notch customer service,” he said. With 11 locations in Topeka, all open on Sunday and with weekday hours extending as late as 7 p.m., CoreFirst is one of the most accessible banks in the city, Fager said. CoreFirst also has locations in Manhattan, Lenexa, Shawnee, Olathe and Englewood, Colo., a Denver suburb. “We have a lot of loyal customers,” he said. — Luke Ranker


BEST CREDIT UNION

AZURA CREDIT UNION azuracu.com

Just months ago, Quest Credit Union and Educational Credit Union announced a merger of equals and in March revealed the formation of Azura Credit Union. The merger was in the works for months before Azura signs went up in front of the credit unions. Allyson Shove, vice president of marketing, said the move was made to benefit the membership. Was it difficult to merge the two credit unions? Staff members at both credit unions operated as a team to make sure the merger took place smoothly, Shove said. “In regard to the transition of service, we only closed our locations for one Saturday,” she said. “That was quite an amazing feat to be able to get completed and to really go forward with no additional interruptions for our membership.” Shove said merging was a strong move to help the credit unions manage technology and compliance expenses and save money by purchasing as a unit. Another benefit was a blending of cultures. “That was the nice part about the merger of equals,” she said. “We really went through both of our processes and were able to take what we liked and make our new Azura brand. It’s a little bit more intensive of a project to do it that way, but we learned a lot about how each other works and what was going to be best for members going forward.” Today, members have access to locations at Topeka, Fort Riley and Lenexa, and a mobile app that features remote deposit and other technological offerings. — Morgan Chilson

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Envista Credit Union Kansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Credit Union


THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Following the merger of Quest Credit Union and Educational Credit Union, Azura Credit Union team members are working together to provide services to its customers.

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THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Lee Gardner, owner of Gardner Roofing Inc., says the company’s customer base is 80 percent residential projects and 20 percent commercial buildings.

BEST ROOFING COMPANY GARDNER ROOFING INC. gardnerroofing.net

Sometimes when you’re getting a bid on a house project, you might have trouble envisioning what a contractor’s talking about. At Gardner Roofing Inc., that isn’t a problem. In the company’s showroom, you step up to a mock-up of an upper portion of a house to get a view of its roof from the outside and then step into a 9-foottall walk-in attic to view the roof from the inside. “I wanted to bring the house down to the customer’s level to see what makes a roof,” company president Lee Gardner said. The customer can see how rainwater drains into the gutter, how heat vents from the attic and other details related to roofs. “This is what you would have on your roof and in your attic,” Gardner said. “Roofing is not just shingling someone’s house.” Gardner Roofing, 4614 S.W. Topeka Blvd., is a second-generation firm


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Appelhanz Roofing Inc. Dovetail Roofing

started by his father, Walt Gardner. Lee Gardner incorporated the company in 1998. The company’s customer base is a split of 80 percent residential projects and 20 percent commercial buildings. Gardner Roofing installs composition shingles, metal roofing and flat roofing. “I know what’s going to hold up on people’s homes,” he said. If a company doesn’t know the details of proper roof installation, he asks, how can it help a customer? Gardner is proud of his company’s work during the restoration of the brickand-stone Dillon House in 2013-14. Gardner Roofing removed the orange clay tile roof of the century-plus-old, three-story mansion at 404 S.W. 9th, replaced the roofing underlayment and put the tiles back on the house. — Steve Fry


BEST ELECTRICIAN, BEST HEATING/AIR COMPANY, BEST PLUMBING COMPANY A-1 PLUMBING, HEATING, COOLING, ELECTRICAL bettercleanerfaster.com

The family feeling at A-1 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electrical is the factor that sets the company apart in the Topeka market. Jason Holthaus, manager and son of founders Vickie and Allan Holthaus, said even though many of the employees are related, others have been there long enough they feel like family. That family feeling is increasing as Holthaus and his brothers, Shawn and Kevin Holthaus, see their children work in the business. “Some of it gets kind of mundane and you get tired of doing it, and when you get the next generation coming in, it reinvigorates it,” Holthaus said, adding that his daughter has been working at the business and four of his nephews worked there over the summer. Longtime employees — many of whom have been at A-1, 7440 S.W. Morrill Road, for more than 15 years — bring experience and help create a feeling of security for customers. “We treat one another like family. We’re able to pass that

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good service on to our customers,” Holthaus said. “And we don’t have people coming and going all the time. That’s always nice for people to see familiar faces.” New government regulations make it necessary for employees to stay educated and adapt practices, Holthaus said. For example, the size of water heaters, which require extra insulation today, has grown, making them difficult to fit in some spaces. Technology updates also help. New vehicles purchased this year include GPS, which lets the company’s dispatcher know where everyone is. If a customer complains that a service person only stayed 15 minutes, for instance, Holthaus can click on the program and see if that is accurate. Cellphones alone significantly changed the industry in the past decade. Customers can use FaceTime or post photos, which sometimes allows A-1 to fix the problem over the phone. — Morgan Chilson


FIRST BEST ELECTRICIAN RUNNER-UP Torgeson Electric Co. SECOND RUNNER-UP McElroy’s Inc. FIRST BEST HEATING/AIR COMPANY RUNNER-UP McElroy’s Inc. SECOND RUNNER-UP Kaw Valley Heating & Cooling FIRST BEST PLUMBING COMPANY RUNNER-UP McElroy’s Inc. SECOND RUNNER-UP Pat the Plumber Plumbing, Heating and Air CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

John Merckling, a technician with A-1 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electrical, brings experience to the company, which helps create a feeling of security for customers.

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BEST CAR WASH

EAGLE AUTO WASH & DETAILING SALON eagleautowash.com

Everybody wants a clean car, but most of us don’t want to spend the time or effort to do it right. That’s where Eagle Auto Wash & Detailing Salon enters the picture. The business at 2110 S.W. Chelsea Drive — on the northwest corner of Fairlawn Plaza Shopping Center — has been keeping vehicles in the Topeka area spiffy for more than a quarter-century. To be in business for that length of time, the business must be doing something right. In this case, it’s a lot of somethings. Eagle Auto Wash & Detailing Salon could aptly be described as being “fullservice” in every sense of the word. Upon their arrival, customers are met by a greeter, who goes over the various services Eagle offers and discusses the right one for the vehicle. Customers leave their car with an

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attendant and then can go inside to a clean, bright lobby to watch through glass as the car is being cleaned and detailed. Vehicles are loaded onto a 120-foot conveyor to undergo the washing process. Buffing and waxing will follow, with rinsing and drying the final steps. Attendants wrap things up by toweldrying the exterior, cleaning the windows, wiping down the dash, wiping the door jambs and applying tire treatments or dressings. A vehicle that came in dirty — maybe even grimy — gets new life and is returned to the owner sparkling clean. You often can tell about a business by the number of people who frequent it. If that’s the case, Eagle’s many repeat customers are perhaps the best advertisement it can get. — Phil Anderson

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Squeaky Clean Car Wash/ Dog Wash Otto Car Wash THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Eagle Auto Wash & Detailing Salon has been keeping Topekans’ vehicles clean for more than 25 years.


BEST PLACE TO GET A HAIRCUT SHEAR HEAVEN facebook.com/ShearHeaven2013

Stylist Sara Cain is proud of Shear Heaven, the business she and co-owner Katie Myers have established. The full-service hair salon, which employs four additional stylists, offers everything from haircuts to manicures to working with ethnic hair. The pair does plenty of coloring, and the salon features a highlighting system that doesn’t contain bleach, which is easier on hair. Cain wants everyone who walks out of the salon’s doors to look good, so she isn’t afraid to tell her clients when a particular style or color won’t work for them. “I think a lot of clients appreciate that,” she said.

The owners, who also take continuing education classes to stay on top of their craft, have created a great vibe inside the salon — for employees and clients. Cain said the stylists each have their own strengths. They also often complement each other’s work. The salon, which opened in 2012, expanded the following year and moved to Brookwood Shopping Center, 2910 S.W. Oakley Ave. Cain and Myers have enjoyed being in Brookwood Shopping Center, where most of the shops are locally owned. “I love being a business owner in Topeka,” Cain said. — Katie Moore

CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Leslie Barlow works on the nails of Justina Lucky, while Malcolm Lucky styles her hair at Shear Heaven.

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Great Clips Beauty Brands

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BEST EQUIPMENT RENTAL COMPANY KANSAS RENTAL kansas-rental.com

Sunflower Rents Inc. Menards

FIRST RUNNER-UP SECOND RUNNER-UP CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Bruce Wanamaker, of Kansas Rental, says the company has been loaning a wide variety of supplies — from partyware to generators — to Topekans for more than 50 years.

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Most people don’t need a generator until they really need a generator. The same can be said for a submersible pump or jumper cables or a dolly. When Topekans are in a jam and must have those items, they often call Bruce Wanamaker at Kansas Rental. For more than 50 years, the shop at the corner of S.W. 29th St. and Wanamaker Road has been loaning a wide variety of supplies to those who need them. In recent years, bounce houses and party supplies have gained popularity. “Someone is always getting married or throwing a party year-round,” Wanamaker said. Wanamaker compared the rental business to the up-and-down of a rollercoaster. When storms knock out power,

generators are a hot item. When rainstorms flood basements, dehumidifiers and fans are popular. Construction tools, popular in the summer, sit idle during winter storms. “Something we rent a lot of is a refrigerator dolly, because no one keeps those around the house, and when you need one, you really need one,” he said. “It’s not a high-dollar item, but it’s something that I would say gets rented nearly every day.” Kansas Rental has a second store at 926 N.W. Topeka Blvd. When asked what sets his business apart from the competition, Wanamaker had two answers: “Availability and the variety of stuff that we have.” — Justin Wingerter


BEST AUTO BODY AND PAINT SHOP, BEST AUTO REPAIR SHOP, BEST PLACE FOR AN OIL CHANGE ED BOZARTH CHEVROLET BUICK GMC

BEST AUTO BODY AND PAINT SHOP College Body Shop CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts

BEST AUTO BODY REPAIR SHOP

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Walt’s Auto Service Plus Inc. Yingling’s Auto Service

edbozarthoftopeka.com

When you drive your new or used car off the Bozarth lot, you’re putting in gear a sure-to-be long-standing relationship with this family-owned dealership, whose reputation is reflected in its motto, “The Most Trusted Name in Automobiles.” Bozarth’s tire, body shop and parts/service departments will keep your new ride on the roadway for years to come.

BEST PLACE FOR AN OIL CHANGE Jiffy Lube Goodyear Auto Service Center

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BEST BUILDER/REMODELER — COMMERCIAL KENDALL CONSTRUCTION INC. kendallconstr.com

With each new endeavor, Kendall Construction sets out to exceed the expectations of its customers when it comes to craftsmanship, safety, budget and deadlines. For 18 years, Kendall has been the general contractor for Prairie Band Casino & Resort. The company’s past projects, including those at Topeka High School and Lewis Toyota, are testimonials to its design, building and renovation expertise.

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McPherson Contractors Inc. Castlewood Construction Inc.

BEST BUILDER/REMODELER — RESIDENTIAL MARK BOLING CONSTRUCTION INC. http://markbolingconstructioninc.com

You won’t find a cookie-cutter contractor at this award-winning builder. In business for more than a quarter of a century, the company stays current with advances in construction and home building, as well as the latest housing trends and technology, to design projects to fit the homeowner’s wishes.

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Dultmeier Homes Company Winston Brown Construction Inc.


BEST CARPET CLEANER ABSOLUTELY TOP NOTCH (785) 554-4702

This Grantville-based enterprise can clean just about anything — air ducts, arm chairs, automobile interiors. Opened 12 years ago by owners Jess and Penny Rigsby, the small company specializes in residential and commercial janitorial cleaning. Freshening carpets and upholstery is among its strong points.

Bob’s Janitorial Service & Supply Chavez Restoration & Cleaning

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BEST CELL SERVICE PROVIDER AT&T

att.com/local/kansas/topeka Connecting to the world is just a few finger taps — or perhaps voice commands — away. Browse the selection of cellphones and mobile devices this communications leader offers and see what kind of phone-TV-Internet bundles they can craft to save you money. And don’t forget to ask about smartwatches, GPS trackers and other gadgets.

Verizon Sprint

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BEST CHURCH/SYNAGOGUE CHRIST THE KING CATHOLIC CHURCH ctktopeka.org

The sacred purpose of the Christ the King parish is to express devotion to God during religious services within the walls of its church. Parishioners also have a tradition of turning their faith outward to help the community at large through their Shop for the Hungry food drive, meal service at Let’s Help and other charitable efforts.

Fellowship Bible Church Topeka Bible Church

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BEST COMPUTER SALES/SERVICE BEST BUY/GEEK SQUAD bestbuy.com

This specialty big-box store is where you can get your nerd on. Tablets, laptops, hard drives, printers, PC gaming — a techie’s dream come true. And once you’re home and realize you don’t have a clue where all the plug-ins go on your new gadgets, the Geek Squad is ready via phone, online or in-store to troubleshoot and answer your questions.

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The Computer Store Ace Computers

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BEST FINANCIAL PLANNER EDWARD JONES edwardjones.com

The financial advisers at Edward Jones get to know their clients and why they’re interested in investing before developing a personalized portfolio and strategy to help them reach their goals, whether it be saving for a child’s education or looking toward retirement.

Jones Advisory Group Carlson & Company Financial Services

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BEST FUNERAL HOME/CREMATORY

PENWELL-GABEL FUNERAL HOMES, CREMATORY & CEMETERY penwellgabeltopeka.com

A stalwart of the Topeka community since 1893, Penwell-Gabel, with its four chapels and two cemeteries, provides personalized funeral services that honor a loved one’s life and comfort the grief-stricken. The business’ commitment to the community’s well-being shines at the swingin’ big-band concert it stages each fall.

Kevin Brennan Family Funeral Home Mercer Funeral Home

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BEST HOME IMPROVEMENT STORE MENARDS menards.com

A mecca for do-it-yourselfers and experienced contractors, Menards is a handyman’s-hub for materials, tools and supplies to remodel or renovate a home. Get help in designing and calculating projects, and save money on everything from doorbells to wrenches to, yes, even kitchen sinks.

Lowe’s Home Depot

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BEST INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER COX CABLE cox.com

Rapid in-home Wi-Fi for marathon surfing, streaming and gaming is a dealmaker for this communications company. Access to thousands of hotspots, multiple email accounts, free online storage and devices to ward off spam, hackers, viruses and spyware don’t hurt either.

AT&T U-verse Giant Communications

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BEST LAUNDRY/DRY CLEANER SCOTCH CLEANERS scotchcleaners.com

For 135 years, Scotch has kept Topeka starched and pressed. The drycleaning company also has changed with the times, adding same-day service, wedding dress preservation and button replacements to its repertoire and using more environmentally friendly equipment and cleaning agents.

Continental Professional Laundry Hygienic Dry Cleaners

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BEST LAWN CARE SCOTTS LAWN CARE scottslawnservice.com

Say good-bye to crabgrass and henbit. The merger of TruGreen and Scotts Lawn Service means their specialists are working together to grow and groom the type of lush, green lawns that boost curb appeal and inspire backyard barbecues.

Schendel Lawn and Landscape Topeka Landscape Inc.

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BEST PEST CONTROL COMPANY SCHENDEL PEST SERVICES schendelpest.com

When bed bugs, termites, ants, mice and spiders invade your home, who ya gonna call? Schendel, the pest-busters! The company also provides relief from moles, gophers, raccoons, pigeons and other varmints causing problems around your home or commercial property.

Wheatland Pest Control (tie) Orkin (tie) Ozark Integrated Pest Services

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BEST PLACE FOR PET CARE PETSMART

stores.petsmart.com/244 This specialty pet retailer — known for its pet grooming, dog training, veterinary and preventive care services — stocks its shelves with fish aquariums, bird seed, cat crates, dog collars and other merchandise to make Fido, Fluffy, Slim the snake and all your critters happy.

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Dog Day Afternoon Inc. Pampered Pets Grooming & Boutique

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BEST TANNING SALON SUN-TANA SALONS sun-tana.com

Want a sun-kissed look in a matter of minutes? The stand-up and flat beds in the upscale, walk-in Sun-Tana tanning salons deliver a healthy bronze glow envied by beachcombers. The south Topeka location has been in business for 10 years, while a North Topeka location was added in 2005. In addition to four levels of tanning and spray tans, the south location offers red-light therapy.

Island Tan Oasis Tanning Salon

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BEST REAL ESTATE AGENT CAROL HOLTHAUS/KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY carolholthaus.com

Realtor Carol Holthaus has been working in her field for only six years, but she brought significant real estate experience to the job. Holthaus, of Keller Williams Realty, has been a real estate investor for years, and her background in assessing properties made a Realtor position a natural fit. “I just like helping people, and I love real estate,” she said. “I love working with the customers and trying to find the right place. The whole process can be challenging, keeping deals together and making sure everybody gets what they need.” Even in today’s tight real estate market, Holthaus takes on the challenges of finding homes. She’s even willing to knock on doors to ask if the owners are interested in selling their house. “The listing inventory is down,” she acknowledged. “You’ve got to do some creative marketing and creative things to find houses for your clients.” Although finding a house and completing complex real estate transactions accurately is critical, Holthaus said many clients are struck by the fact her service doesn’t stop when the house is sold. “When the transaction is over, we’re not done,” she said. “I help them years after they buy their house. If they’re looking for a painter or a plumber, they call me. I stay in constant contact. I do client events throughout the year. They’ll get personal notes from me. My relationship does not stop at the end of the transaction.” That continued relationship is important to building a strong referral business, which Holthaus said helps her business grow. — Morgan Chilson

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Kelly McFarland/ Coldwell Banker Griffith & Blair Vivian Kane/ Capitol City Real Estate EMILY DESHAZER/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Realtor Carol Holthaus, of Keller Williams Realty, says she loves “working with the customers and trying to find the right place” for them.

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BEST PHYSICAL THERAPY

REBOUND PHYSICAL THERAPY reboundphysicaltherapy.com

Undergoing physical therapy in the early 1980s for an injury suffered while playing football steered Paul Silovsky to establish Rebound Physical Therapy. Silovsky was a free safety and outside linebacker on the Washburn University squad when his left knee was injured and required reconstruction. “After going through it, I knew that’s what I wanted to do to help people,” said the owner and executive director of the 22-year-old firm. Silovsky opened Rebound in 1994 in a small 1,500-square-foot building in the Hillsdale Shopping Center. Since, then, the business has expanded to an 8,000-squarefoot facility with a therapy pool at 5220 S.W. 17th St. and a 3,000-square-foot facility at S.W. 37th and Burlingame Road. Silovsky, his wife and co-owner, Roxanne, and their three daughters have worked at Rebound.

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“We have a very diverse public that we serve,” Silovsky said, noting some clients have aged from young athletes to older clients. “We get people moving in the direction they want to go. We help restore them.” Some Rebound clients are referrals from physicians. Others are athletes recovering from a sports injury or training to run faster and jump higher. Some are older citizens, while others are getting fit and losing weight. Rebound has 42 employees, including physical therapists, certified physical therapist assistants and exercise specialists with degrees. The therapists analyze clients to make sure they’re exercising correctly and avoiding irritants to their body. “Many times, people try and write a check their body can’t cash,” he said. “We’re in the business of making sure people don’t do that.” — Steve Fry

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Stormont Vail Rehabilitation Services Aspire Rehab Center THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Paul Silovsky, founder and owner of Rebound Physical Therapy, says he became interested in physical therapy after the reconstruction of his left knee following an injury while playing on the Washburn University football team.


BEST AUCTIONEER

DAN KOOSER/KOOSER AUCTION kooserauction.com

Although you can go to auctioneering school to learn the fast-talking skills and audience-engaging banter that nearly always guarantees a sale, Dan Kooser didn’t attend one. Instead, he learned about auctioneering from his family. “I learned it from my dad, just growing up listening to him every weekend,” Kooser said. Auctioneering in the Kooser family extends back to 1939, when H.H. Kooser sold a pony at the Atchison County sale barn, according to a family history posted on the Kooser Auction Service website. Continuing the family profession, based at 335 S.W. Harrison St., Dan Kooser has been auctioneering since the 1980s. Farm, estate, real estate and other types of sales keep him busy. Other members of the family help as well. At a time when more and more business is conducted online, and online auction sites like eBay have become popular ways to buy and sell, an actual in-person auctioneer offers something extra. “We have fun doing it, but we’re on a mission. We’re on a goal,” Kooser said. “I always tell the folks, if they don’t make money, neither do we.” — Jonathan Shorman

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Simnitt Real Estate and Auctions Daniel D. Kull/Kull Auction & Real Estate Co. CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Dan Kooser, of Kooser Auction Service, says he learned his auctioneering skills from his family, which has been in the business since the late 1930s.

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BEST PHOTOGRAPHER KEN DOLL PHOTOGRAPHY kendollphotography.com

THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Photographer Ken Doll specializes in wedding photography and children, family and high school senior portraits.

Harrington Photography Wichers Photography

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Getting to know families and watch them grow — from shooting baby photos to family portraits to senior pictures — has been a fulfilling experience for photographer Ken Doll. “We really appreciate the longevity of our clients coming back to us,” said Doll, who opened his photography business in 2005. Although he has enjoyed taking photos since he was a child, it wasn’t until he owned a DJ company that he fell in love with weddings and started focusing on expanding his photography work. Doll, his wife, Maggie, and two assistants make up the photo team. They specialize in wedding photography and children, family and high school senior portraits. Doll also is working on a project with the Kansas Museum of History. Doll initially holds a consultation with clients to listen to their thoughts and ideas and to help understand who they are as individuals. He then builds a session around their style and interests. Often, he and his clients end up becoming friends. “Everything I shoot, I’m very passionate about,” he said. “This is a dream of mine that I’ve been pursuing for many years. I’ve been blessed.” — Katie Moore

BEST DENTIST REES E. WEBBER (785) 232-7707

CHRIS NEAL/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Dentist Rees E. Webber concentrates as he works a patient’s teeth at his dental office.

Topeka Smiles Larre Betsworth 74 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

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The central Topeka dental office of Rees E. Webber is a family practice in more ways than one. Not only does it treat patients of all ages in the traditional definition of a family practice, but it’s also a family business, operated by Webber and his father, dentist Ed Webber. Rees Webber, who was a runner-up in the Best Dentist category in 2015, credited this year’s honor to the practice’s focus on patient care. “I believe our practice is set apart in Topeka from others because we actually do care about our patients. We’re fair with billing, and we have a family atmosphere in the office,” he said. “People just enjoy it and love to come back.” On a recent Thursday morning, the people in the dental office at 1919 S.W. 10th Ave. included patients young, old and somewhere in between. Ed Webber said he was proud to see his son earn citywide recognition. “That’s good. I’m glad he’s getting a lot of notoriety,” he joked. Rees Webber, who graduated from the University of MissouriKansas City, has been a dentist in Topeka for 20 years. — Justin Wingerter


THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Joseph Cook, veterinarian and owner of Family Pet Hospital, interacts with Gunner, a dog being prepared for surgery.

BEST VETERINARY HOSPITAL FAMILY PET HOSPITAL

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Stone House Animal Hospital Aid Animal Hospital

familypethospitaltopekaks.com

Family Pet Hospital strives to maintain consistency for its clients, but that doesn’t mean nothing has changed since the business started in 1995. The evolution of the pet hospital has included a new address, new faces and an online presence. Veterinarian Joseph Cook, who opened the practice in leased space a block east of California Crossing at S.E. 29th St. and California Avenue, said consistency is important to clients. “I think one of the reasons that people continue to come back to us is that we don’t have a lot of turnover,” he said. “The staff members that are here are ones that people have known for quite some time.”

When clients are trying to get help for a sick or injured pet, they want to see familiar faces, not compound their worry by having to deal with someone new. “I think one of the reasons people have been comfortable in coming back to us for so many years is they know what to expect when they come in,” he said. The veterinary practice moved to 2925 S.E. Walnut Drive in 2009. A second veterinarian, Sheryl Brown, joined the practice the same year. Family Pet Hospital also has a groomer whom Cook said interacts well with pets. “She really enjoys the animals, and the animals tend to meld really easy to her,” he said.

“So when they come in, it’s low stress for them.” The business also is working to increase its social media presence and build a new website. Family Pet Hospital tries to provide complete information and cost estimates to its clients, Cook said, because many people have a limited budget for such expenses and want to make informed decisions. “We try to make sure that we’re putting ourselves in their position and try to make sure that we empathize with them,” he said, “because most of the time, whatever these animals are going through, at least some of us in the practice have been through, too.” — Samantha Foster

BEST REAL ESTATE AGENCY KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY

kw.com/homes-for-sale/kansas/topeka/ctyprp-KS-topeka-all.html Using the latest online technologies, market research and business strategies, Keller Williams is all about forging win-win deals to benefit the seller of an on-the-market house and the buyer searching for a new home. The company also looks out for its own through a charity established to help associates with hardships brought on by a sudden emergency.

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Coldwell Banker Griffith & Blair RE/MAX Associates of Topeka THE TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL 75


BEST ARCHITECT ARCHITECT ONE architectonepa.com

From the much-heralded S. Kansas Avenue revitalization project to the remodeling and addition to the Westar Energy Service Center, the creative, inspired architectural design and planning services of Architect One punctuates the capital city’s landscape. It’s no wonder the firm’s motto is “You know us by our work.”

Schwerdt Design Group Inc. HTK Architects

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BEST CHIROPRACTOR

JOHN E. CHANCE/CAPITOL CITY CHIROPRACTIC INC. capcitychiro.com

After being injured while playing high school football, John Chance decided to pursue chiropractic as a career. Twenty-five years after opening his Topeka practice, he uses a holistic approach to provide a customized care plan to correct spinal deficiencies in order to activate the body’s healing response and alleviate pain.

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Mark Penn/ Center for Manual Medicine Amber Beckley/ Beckley Chiropractic

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BEST EMPLOYMENT AGENCY

KEY STAFFING/PREMIER EMPLOYMENT SOLUTIONS keystaffing.com; premierks.com

If you’re a worker searching for a temporary job or the head of a company hunting for top talent, these sister employment-related agencies, under the tutelage of owner Patti Bossert, can find an opportunity or fill an opening when it’s most needed. Also available: advice on resume writing and interviewing.

Express Employment Professionals Kelly Services

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BEST EYE DOCTOR

KEVIN LENAHAN/THE SPECTACLE lenahaneyedoc.com

The “eyes” have it at Kevin Lenahan’s optometry offices in Topeka, Lawrence, Lyndon and Tonganoxie, where the focus is on eye and vision exams, contact lenses, frames and other eye care services. Lenahan hasn’t lost sight of how the community has rallied behind him for more than 20 years, and he gives back through involvement in charitable organizations and community programs.

The EyeDoctors Kohake, Deutscher & Hefner

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BEST HEARING AID SERVICE PROVIDER NUSOUND HEARING CENTER nusoundhearing.com

If the ringing in your ears isn’t from the phone or you hear yourself repeatedly asking “Whadya say?” a hearing exam and well-fitting hearing aids from these professionals might be in order. NuSound offers the latest in hearing aid technology, hearing protection and tinnitus management tools.

Topeka Ear, Nose & Throat Ediger Hearing Aid Service

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BEST INSURANCE AGENCY STATE FARM statefarm.com

Being a good neighbor means helping others, and that’s what drives this nationwide, multifaceted insurance company. From responding to disasters or routine rear-enders to being involved in community projects, State Farm is always there and striving toward building safer and stronger communities in which its customers work and live.

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American Family Insurance Farm Bureau Financial Services

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BEST LAWYER ART GLASSMAN

sloanlawfirm.com/attorneys/%E2%80%8Barthur-glassman This past president of the Topeka Bar Association relies on the depth of his knowledge and experience when weighing the best legal options for his clients. After graduating with honors from Washburn University School of Law, Glassman in 1967 joined the Sloan Law Firm, placing his emphasis on banking law and business litigation while elevating to senior partner.

James Chappas Steve Tilton

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BEST MEDICAL FACILITY

STORMONT VAIL HEALTH/COTTON O’NEIL CLINIC stormontvail.org; stormontvail.org/cottononeil-clinicstopeka-primary-care

The founders didn’t know the legacy they were creating in 1884 when Christ’s Hospital opened its doors where Stormont Vail Health stands today. Mergers with Jane C. Stormont Hospital and Training School for Nurses and Cotton-O’Neil Clinic in the 20th century gave birth to today’s integrated health care system, with its specialty clinics, top-notch medical staff and advanced technology.

St. Francis Health Center Tallgrass Topeka

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surroundings while you stride, Topeka and Shawnee County have plenty of walking, hiking, biking and jogging paths to explore. Put on your sneakers and pack your water bottle before heading out to the concrete bicycle/ pedestrian paths at Lake Shawnee or Crestview Park’s Shunga Trail. Hikers also can get their walk-on at Brookfield Park, Dornwood Nature Trail, Landon Trail, Orville Rice Nature Trail, Freedom Valley Trail, Soldier Creek Trail or 10 other pathways.

visittopeka.com/things-to-do/ sightseeing-outdoors/trailsgreen-spaces

FOOD & DRINK BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT ORIENTAL EXPRESS

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Kid” or another cherished classic.

BEST ART GALLERY

BEST ETHNIC EVENT IN NORTHEAST KANSAS

ALICE C. SABATINI GALLERY To the right of the rotunda in the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is the subtle Sabatini, a contemporary-looking gallery that’s home to the city’s oldest public art collection. Avid art lovers, as well as newbies to the scene, are likely to find themselves pausing to admire the ceramics, paintings and other works on display in its rotating exhibits.

tscpl.org/gallery

SOUTHWIND GALLERY

The two-level SouthWind is packed with paintings, photographs and sculptures created by artists with roots in Kansas and the Midwest. Think Stan Herd, Judith Mackey, Cally Krallman, Brian Slawson and other contributors of that caliber. And after you’re done finding that perfect piece to take home, check out Framewoods of Topeka, a custom picture-framing studio that shares the space.

southwindartgallery.com

BEST DANCE STUDIO BALLET MIDWEST

For nearly 40 years, the arabesques, pirouettes and demi-plies of the nimble and toe-shoed dancers of Ballet Midwest have graced the stages of Topeka. The repertory dance company brings the Sugar Plum Fairy and the rest of “The Nutcracker” characters to life each December and leaps into spring with “Swan Lake,” “Billy the 80 BEST OF TOPEKA 2016

balletmidwest.net

BLINTZE BRUNCH Many of the traditional Jewish foods at Temple Beth Sholom’s springtime brunch can’t be found any other time of the year in Topeka: matzo ball soup, knishes, kugels and, of course, the star — the abundantly filled blintzes. Get there early — they may run out! — and stay a while to take in the Jewish music and Israeli dancing.

facebook.com/BlintzeBrunch

BEST FREE ENTERTAINMENT DOWNTOWN PARADES

Every few months, S. Kansas Avenue morphs into a parade route, where people line the pavement and crane their necks to see a procession of marching bands, floats and vintage cars. Plenty o’ green and bagpipe players ease down the street on St. Patty’s Day. Patriotism reigns during the Veterans Parade in November. But the most magical parade of all comes on a crisp-aired evening after Thanksgiving when Santa arrives and Christmas lights glimmer.

topekastpats.com/parade.html; facebook.com/DowntownTopekaInc; facebook.com/Topeka veteransparade HIKING TRAILS IN TOPEKA

Whether you’re working up a sweat to get fit or checking out the natural

It takes time to master the art of sushi: a balance between textures, contrasting colors, complementary flavors that don’t overpower each other and minimalistic presentation. Hop aboard this Express to savor the simple-but-complex delicacies of traditional Asian cuisines — Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai.

orientalexpresstopeka.com

BEST COFFEE/TEA SHOP

BLACKBIRD ESPRESSO BAR AND BISTRO

“Good food, Good coffee. Good grief” — that’s the self-descriptor on the Blackbird’s Facebook page. And you’ll know what the mantra means when you begin the workday with the bistro’s bagels, wraps or oatmeal, or stop by later for gourmet sandwiches and paninis. Oh, and don’t forget to place your order for the Breve Mocha espresso, frozen chai smoothies or other specialty drinks.

facebook.com/BlackbirdBistro CARA’S CUP AT BARRINGTON VILLAGE

Coffee drinkers aren’t forced into trendy pour-overs at this 1990s throwback favorite, where you can sip on the coffee of the day while munching on its homemade pastries and signature sandwiches. You’ll soon get to know the charismatic baristas, whose skills are matched only by their counterparts at PT’s at College Hill. That’s no coincidence. The coffee shop originally was a PT’s location and was renamed in 2014 for the late Cara Kroll, a beloved employee.

facebook.com/Caras-Cupat-BarringtonVillage-105060922865220

FINE DINING BEST PLACE FOR BREAKFAST BEST RESTAURANT BRADLEY’S CORNER CAFE If you long for the good old days of hometown diners, where biscuits ‘n’ gravy and iced cinnamon rolls were breakfast mainstays, then cruise on over to Bradley’s, a cozy cafe in the NOTO Arts District. Open for a decade, the restaurant is known for its madefrom-scratch rolls, fries and plethora of pies. Entree favorites? Turkey and dressing, cheeseburgers and meatloaf.

CHEZ YASU

BEST CHOCOLATES/ DOUGHNUTS/PASTRIES

chezyasufrenchrestaurant.com

facebook.com/pages/BradleysCorner-Cafe/120639771283410

LE PETIT BON BON

The sweet European-style delicacies made from scratch by owner and executive pastry chef Carlos Serrano pair well with the bistro’s single-origin coffees from artisan roasters and white and green loose-leaf teas. From the three-layer, chocoholic-friendly Grand Marnier Cake to rugelach cookies filled with apricot jam, raisins and walnuts to German apple or curried succotash empanadas — your tastebuds are in for a tantalizing treat.

topekabonbon.com

French cooking is all about layering flavors and awesome sauces. Salmon sautéed in lemon-butter sauce, roasted duck in peppercorn sauce, and beef medallions and mushrooms in red wine sauce appear on the Chez Yasu menu, alongside roasted rack of lamb and goat cheese salad. While the entrees are upscale and showy, there’s nothing pretentious about this neighborhood restaurant, known for its casual atmosphere and good service.

TOP OF THE TOWER

Often the “in” spot for the city’s business elite, the Top of the Tower remains a favorite among political, cultural and academic movers and shakers. The restaurant, atop the Townsite Tower, combines the qualities of a finedining private club with modern technology so patrons can stay connected. Or, on a clear day, they can eschew their pinging smartphones and enjoy the 40-mile view out the windows. Menu highlights: Peanut Butter Burger and Maple Garlic Pork Tenderloin.

topoftopeka.com


BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT PEPE & CHELA’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT

Original owners Jose and Celia Avila opened Pepe & Chela’s in 1986 with a simple idea: Serve Mexican cuisine based on their family’s recipes and make strangers feel like friends. Ownership of the restaurant has changed, but that same authenticity and hospitality is still embraced. Satisfy your south-ofthe-border cravings with a la carte tamales, enchiladas and tostadas or spicy, flavorful entrees. And, really, who can walk away without a xango or sopapilla?

pepeandchelas.com

CW-Porubsky-Grocery-andMeats/131331040244774 JULI’S COFFEE AND BISTRO

Inside the historic Thacher building — the tallest building in Topeka when it was constructed of cottonwood limestone in 1888 — this easy-going bistro is a popular lunch destination because of its freshly made Turkey Lurkey sandwiches, wraps and salads. Too early for lunch? No problem. Standouts on the breakfast menu, like oatmeal with blueberries and the Trainwreck, an open-face bacon-egg-cheese biscuit sandwich drowning in sausage gravy, will satisfy your morning munchies. Classic espresso drinks and drip coffees will perk you up.

juliscoffeeandbistro.com MARGARITA’S JALISCO MEXICAN BAR & GRILL

Chili Colorado — beef chunks with red chili sauce — tops the lengthy list of affordable “specialty” dishes at trendy Margarita’s in the College Hill district. A variety of tacos, egg meals, enchiladas and fajitas are also there, as well as vegetarian favorites, steaks and seafood plates. A Gringo’s Menu pleases the palates of those who like burgers over burritos, and thirsts are quenched with wine, margaritas and domestic and Mexican beers.

margaritasjalisco.com

BEST PIZZA PIZAGEL’S PIZZA AND BAKERY

Pizza and bagels come together at this retooled restaurant, where owners Jim and Shanna Burgardt have rearranged the floor space, upgraded the menu and discarded its old name — Bagel Express — as part of its rebranding. House and specialty pizzas, with crispy thin or traditional crusts and a variety of toppings, are sold by the slice or pie, alongside bagels, sandwiches, salads, smoothies, wine and beer. Favorite espresso drink? The Snicker Pie, made with espresso, milk, chocolate, caramel sauce and hazelnut syrup.

pizagels.com

BEST PLACE FOR LUNCH C.W. PORUBSKY GROCERY AND MEATS

Across the railroad tracks in the city’s Little Russia district, thick chili simmers in a small, family-run tavern/grocery store known as Porubsky’s. Noontime regulars come for the spicy favorite, but also find themselves chomping on crisp horseradish pickles or fat deli sandwiches on sliced white bread.

facebook.com/pages/

HHB BBQ

This family-run barbecue restaurant is back to smokin’ again after being devastated by fire in January 2012. Since the beginning, it’s always been about the meat at HHB’s — the initials stand for “hog, herd and bird,” after all. Mouth-watering pulled pork, brisket, turkey, chicken, sausage and ribs are sold in sandwiches, as entrees or by the pound.

hhbbbq.com

RECREATIONAL BEST PARK

SHAWNEE NORTH COMMUNITY CENTER

Built in 1920 as a county poor farm, the complex on the northern edge of Topeka is home to hiking trails; sand volleyball and tennis courts; soccer and softball fields; and an aquatic center with a Viking theme. The center itself is a beehive of activity — literally, as adults learn about beehive construction and management in one of its many classes. Paint flows in the art studio. Fitness seekers stretch in the dance studio, and youngsters learn martial arts moves.

parks.snco.us/Facilities/Facility/ Details/17

RETAIL BEST ORGANIC/ HEALTH FOOD STORE DOWNTOWN TOPEKA FARMERS MARKET

A handful of farmers gathered at

the train station in North Topeka in the 1930s to sell or barter their produce and goods. Today, the Saturday morning market is in the heart of downtown, with more than 100 vendors offering a bounty of ripe tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis and other produce, as well as a treasure trove of handmade and repurposed goods.

downtowntopeka farmersmarket.com

SERVICE BEST AUTO REPAIR SHOP BOB BROWN’S AUTO SERVICE CENTER

Brakes squealing? Air-conditioner blowing hot air? “Check Engine” light on? Oil dripping onto the garage floor? The crew at Bob Brown’s will get under the hood, figure out what’s wrong with your vehicle and fix it. Simple as that. The auto repair and service center, in business for nearly 30 years, works on domestic and foreign passenger cars and light-duty trucks.

bobbrownsautoservice kansas.com

THE CELTIC FOX

The Irish pub and restaurant has a reputation for Reubens: tender corned beef topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on toasted marbled rye bread. Tasty enough to sprout shamrocks between your toes. On your second visit — and you will return — try the fish and chips, Atlantic cod dipped in ale batter and Irishseasoned fries, or Grandma Ada’s Shepherd’s Pie, garlic mashers in homemade Irish stew crowned with melted cheeses.

thecelticfox.com

BEST DELI/SANDWICH SHOP QUINTON’S BAR AND DELI

If you’re channeling Dagwood and daydreaming of a thick meaty sub topped with sliced vegetables and all sorts of condiments, Quinton’s has the gourmet sandwiches to snap you back to a happy reality. The chicken salad sandwich — a house favorite made of chopped chicken breast, mayo, onion, celery and spices topped with swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato — is made fresh each day and often sells out. Trivia nights and a full-service bar with nightly specials make the evenings fun.

quintonstopeka.com

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Best of Topeka 2016