The 2014 Best of St. Louis Park: Top Shops, Restaurants and More

Check out the great snaps from this year's event, courtey of staff photographer Tate Carlson.

It’s time to celebrate the 2014 Best of St. Louis Park. Not only are we celebrating our finalists and winners—representing some of the best people, places and activities in The Park—but we’re also thrilled to report our online readers’ choice survey drew more than three times the number of voters as our 2013 competition. It’s further proof that St. Louis Park residents are connected and committed—and proud to be part of this outstanding community.

We also dug deeply into our St. Louis Park Magazine archives to find out what some of this year’s winners had to say in past stories about their business, their customers, their mission and the role they hope to fulfill in the St. Louis Park community.

Watch for more quotes from other community members throughout.

Nancy Pettit

owner of Park Yogurt
“I want Park Yogurt to be a big part of the community,” she says of her self-serve, frozen yogurt, build-your-own sundae spot.

Wendy Berezovsky

founder of Sweet Dreams for Kids
Editor’s Pick: Best homegrown nonprofit in The Park
“Our motto is to take the ‘ick’ out of sick. And we know from experience that something as simple as a cozy pair of pajamas can bring a smile to a sick kid’s face.”

Whether you’re craving something sweet or savory, looking to hang out with friends or spend quality time with your little ones, there is definitely a wide variety of popular options in The Park.

Best Bakery
Yum! Kitchen and Bakery
For the second year in a row, Yum! takes the cake in this category, and what a delicious cake it is. Many St. Louis Park residents consider owner Patti Soskin’s “Patticake” (chocolate with buttercream frosting) their go-to celebration treat for birthdays and other special events. With a menu bursting with fresh and delicious options and an owner devoted to her customers and to the community, it’s no wonder voters are sweet on Yum! 4000 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.922.4000.
Runners up: Byerly’s, Honey & Rye Bakehouse

Best Breakfast/Brunch
Good Day Cafe
The Good Day Cafe does old fashioned cooking (think sticky pecan buns and fried egg sandwiches) in a friendly, modern setting. “Our recipes are intended to invoke nostalgia for Grandma’s cooking, but with a Good Day twist,” says owner David Webb. The menu is crowd pleasing. “It’s an equally great spot for a family breakfast or a business lunch.” 5410 Wayzata Blvd.; 763.544.0205.
Runners up: Yum! Kitchen and Bakery, Bunny’s Bar and Grill

Best New Restaurant
Mill Valley Kitchen
With its combination of the creative inspiration of northern California cuisine and the fresh ingredients found in and around our own fair state, Mill Valley Kitchen, which opened in 2011, has quickly earned an outstanding reputation for delightful menu options. Featuring everything from a vegetarian burger wrap on a whole grain tortilla ($11) to savory flatbreads like mozzarella, tomato and basil ($8) to a refreshing mango smoothie with protein ($6), Mill Valley Kitchen continues to impress. 3906 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.358.2000.
Runners up: Rojo Mexican Grill, Figlio

Best Ethnic Food
Wok in the Park
Wok in the Park borrows ideas from Japan to Thailand to create a modern take on Asian cuisine. According to owner Grace Ray, they aren’t afraid to spice it up. “Guests often tell us that they have a hard time finding restaurants that can actually make things hot enough for them. We are always up for that challenge.” And if you’re celebrating a birthday, the staff will serenade you with “Happy Birthday” in three part harmony. 3005 Utah Ave. S.; 952.657.5754.
Runners up: Taste of India, Thanh Do

Best Pasta Dish
If you were a fan of the tortellini at Figlio in Uptown, fear not because your favorite dish traveled to the new West End location, where general manager Jennifer Baltes says it’s just as popular. Tiny tortellini pillows, tenderly filled with beef, pork and cheese, are combined with butter, cream, parmigiano, peas, mushrooms and prosciutto, resulting in a rich and exquisite dish. ($15.95). 5331 W. 16th St.; 952.345.2400.
Runners up: Vescio’s Cucina, McCoy’s Public House

Best Burger
McCoy’s Public House
It’s the Real McCoy that general manager John Ryan calls the customer favorite: elegant in its simplicity, a half-pound burger on an egg bun, complete with Merkts cheddar, is served with chips or cider slaw ($10). Ryan says he is partial to the turkey burger – topped with a Thai glaze, wonton slaw and zesty chile aioli. ($11). 3801 Grand Way; 952.224.9494.
Runners up: Park Tavern, Bunny’s Bar and Grill

Best Wine Selection
Crave’s wine list has been curated over time to include some interesting selections for every palate, and staff members are always happy to make suggestions. A new gem in their collection is from Michael David Winery in Lodi, California. “We had the opportunity to visit and walked away with a new friend, and a great new wine,” says Darcie Marsh, director of beverages. 1603 West End Blvd.; 952.933.6500.
Runners up: Mill Valley Kitchen, Liquor Boy

Best Outdoor Dining
Rojo Mexican Grill
You can’t miss the patio at Rojo if you’re shopping in the West End. “We have a “see and be seen” location,” says Adam Lehr, general manager, adding that diners “enjoy just the right amount of sunshine” for lunch and dinner, and an excellent happy hour. The perfect menu options: Cotija grilled corn and a round of sangria. 1602 West End Blvd.; 952.657.5385.
Runners up: Crave, Cooper Irish Pub

Best Bartender
Shaun Farrow, Granite City Food and Brewery
From busser to server and now “best bartender”, Shaun Farrow has done it all since arriving at Granite City in 2007. Farrow is a genuine, personable guy and that’s what makes him a favorite with customers. He remembers their names (and their drinks) and he enjoys getting to know those on the other side of the bar. Bartending is “natural, with conversation”, says Farrow about the reason he likes his job so much. Stop by and order one of Farrow’s favorites: a “Flying Monkey” with Sobieski Cytron vodka, peach and strawberry schnapps, lemonade and strawberry puree. 5500 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.746.9900.
Runners up: Natalie Nygren, Rojo Mexican Grill; Steve Johnson, Bunny’s Bar and Grill

Best Private-party Venue
Park Tavern
For those planning everything from a bridal shower to a corporate lunch, the Park Tavern offers several versatile private party spaces. The popular 11th Frame can accommodate up to 150 guests (after 6 p.m., semi-private reservations accepted); there is a free party room perfect for 45 of your closest friends and family, and the Atrium, best for a more intimate group of 30. From spring to fall, you can take the party outside to the Park Tavern patio. There are several food and beverage options for each room, including buffets featuring appetizers, Mexican food, even a breakfast buffet. 3401 Louisiana Ave. S.; 952.929.6810.
Runners up: Rojo Mexican Grill, Cooper Irish Pub

Best Happy Hour

Rojo Mexican Grill
When 5 p.m. (more like 3 p.m.) rolls around, Rojo Mexican Grill is the place to be for the best happy hour offerings in town. From 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. weeknights (through Thursday) and 10 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, every appetizer on the menu is half-price and the customer favorite Rojo Margarita is on special. The atmosphere can’t be beat either, especially during warm weather months when garage doors open up to create a fun outdoor dining experience. According to general manager Adam Lehr, it’s a good spot “to watch the world go by.” 1602 West End Blvd.; 952.657.5385.
Runners up: Bunny’s Bar and Grill, Crave

Best Kid-friendly Restaurant
Park Tavern
A great family spot is a place where kids and parents can relax and enjoy a delicious meal in a welcoming atmosphere; Park Tavern is definitely deserving of this honor for the second year in a row. With kids’ favorites including pizza (even a veggie version) and chicken fingers served with fries, tots or chips for only $3.95 (ages 10 and under), a host of arcade games, not to mention bowling, Park Tavern offers an affordable way to book fun into your family calendar. 3401 Louisiana Ave. S.; 952.929.6810.
Runners up: Yum! Kitchen and Bakery, Bunny’s Bar and Grill

Best New Event in The Park

You Betcha! Minnesota Made Festival
When you combine live music with a classic car show, food trucks from metro favorites like Anchor Fish & Chips and West Indies Soul Food, and throw in a loon calling contest for good measure, you betcha it’s going to be a fun summer afternoon in The Park. According to John Basill of Discover St. Louis Park, the second year of this festival drew 5,000 visitors to the West End. Uff da!

We all know “home is where the heart is,” and here are some dedicated local professionals ready to help homeowners cultivate the most perfect and welcoming atmosphere possible, both inside and out.

Andy Higgins
co-owner of CIEL Loft and Home
Best Home Furnishings
In selecting the store name, [Higgins] says the aesthetics of the word was a factor, but also “the beauty of the heavens, the openness, the goodness.”

Best Builder/Remodeler
Anchor Builders
Hard work, passion and experience have been the foundation of Anchor Builders, built by brothers Barak and John Steenlage. Remodelers and renovators, both interiors and exteriors, they have been turning houses into homes and helping homeowners create spaces they love since 2005. With a purposeful process to follow every step of the way, Anchor Builders strives to keep clients informed from start to finish. “This approach is best for maintaining good communication and budget awareness throughout the project,” says Barak Steenlage. 6121 Excelsior Blvd. Suite 209; 952.285.9373.
Runners up: Sicora Design/Build, Bauer Design Build

Best Home Furnishings
CIEL Loft and Home
Step inside CIEL Loft and Home and be wowed by elegant exclusive imports from China, unique yet functional reclaimed home furnishings, including ceiling tiles from New York buildings, circa the late 1800s, which make great pieces of artwork for a home. Co-owner Andy Higgins lived in Beijing for 3 years, where he developed an appreciation for the hidden treasures often found in the street markets and beyond – now he and business partner Chad Newman, who is still in China, are bringing those treasures to CIEL. 4416 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.922.2747.
Runners up: Filament Lighting and Home, Woody’s Furniture

Best Garden Shop
Arts & Flowers Design Studio
Flowers can brighten any occasion, and the knowledgeable and creative staff at Arts & Flowers on Excelsior Boulevard can help you choose just what you’re looking for. With beautiful blooms arriving in the store from home and away on a daily basis, anything from an elegant bouquet to a whimsical arrangement is possible. They have a wonderful selection of plants to help brighten your garden, too. 6011 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.920.8415.
Runners up: Sweet Corn & More, Sunnyside Gardens

Best Landscaper
McChesney Landscape Design
Chosen for this award by readers for the second time, McChesney Landscape Design knows how to get the job done and keep it fun along the way. Small crews of 3–6 employees are crucial to its success, allowing for better quality control to ensure clients are receiving the best landscaping service. It’s worth noting that even the crew is local: summer employees often include high school and college kids from St. Louis Park. Another key to success? “Listen before design,” owner Wayne McChesney says. 3658 Huntington Ave. S.; 952.927.5764.
Runners up: Green Horizons, Landscape Love

Best Interior Designer
Laura Potter Designs
Growing up, Laura Potter preferred This Old House to The Brady Bunch, so her career in interior design makes perfect sense. Potter is passionate about beautiful interiors, and her project management skills are of great value to her clients. “Problem solving, following through with the nitty-gritty details, and exceeding client expectations are where the real work is being done,” she says. 4144 Browndale Ave.; 612.384.6052.
Runners up: Martha O’Hara Interiors, Leslie Nerenberg

Best Local Gem in The Park

Westwood Hills Nature Center
If you want to get away from it all, you don’t have to go far to find a natural oasis complete with lush woods, marsh and restored prairie land. Westwood Hills Nature Center is home to wildlife and an expert staff of naturalists happy to educate kids and adults alike. Programs abound for families, home schoolers, Scouts and summer day campers. Or if you’re “programmed out” from daily life, just take a few minutes to find a quiet spot to sit and breathe in the beauty of this natural space located right in the heart of the city.

From super smiles to healthy spines, from spa breaks to yoga stretches, here are the places in The Park where our readers go to maintain their good health (and good habits), and the experts who help them achieve those goals.

Best Orthodontist
Angela Ross, Family Orthodontics P.A.
For a quarter of a century, Dr. Angela Ross has been straightening teeth and helping to create beautiful smiles in and around St. Louis Park. Don’t take our word for it—check out the Family Orthodontics Facebook page and you can see the “before and after” smiles for yourself. As the winner of this award for the second year in a row, Ross and her team at Family Orthodontics are the go-to experts for children, teenagers and adults. 5804 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.922.7117.
Runners up: Shelly Kulberg, Family Orthodontics P.A.; Amy Gerken, Orthodontic Care Specialists

Best Chiropractor
West End Chiropractic and Wellness
West End Chiropractic and Wellness offers a variety of services, including massage therapy, nutrition counseling and acupuncture, in addition to traditional chiropractic services. Dr. Andrew Schwert, D.C. believes this holistic approach helps to heal chronic pain. “Whether the pain is due to a car accident or poor posture, over time, we can help,” he says. 1660 Hwy. 100 S. Ste. 146; 952.500.8477.
Runners up: Lindsey King, Jeff Schramm, Spine Care P.A.

Best Dental Clinic

Park Dental
The team at Park Dental provides services for everyone from small children to seniors. Whether you need cosmetic dentistry or a routine filling, they can help. Prevention is the best medicine, so your dentist will help create a preventative plan to ensure your smile looks its best. 5000 W. 36th St. Suite 250; 952.920.3700.
Runners up: Metro Dental Care, Rhode Island Dental

Best Medspa/Rejuvenation Clinic
Phresh Spa Salon
Need a little bliss in your life? Warm and friendly, the experienced service providers at Phresh Spa Salon can help you indulge in mind/body relaxing massages, rejuvenating body wraps or the 90-minute Ultimate Facial, which cleanses, steams, moisturizes and includes therapeutic neck, scalp, arm and hand massages. Jenn Mansfield, general manager, calls Phresh “very luxurious and very relaxing.” All their products are natural and earth friendly, too. 1639 Park Place Blvd.; 763.452.3690.
Runners up: Positive Body Dynamics, The Hair District

Best Pediatric Clinic

Park Nicollet
Parents know there is nothing worse than having a sick child, whether it’s a run-of-the-mill cold or something that needs medical attention. The caring staff at Park Nicollet is here to calm your child’s fears (and yours) during routine immunizations or orthopedic surgery and everything in between. Park Nicollet makes readers feel good about health care options for babies through teenagers. 3800 Park Nicollet Blvd.; 952.993.1000.
Runners up: Pediatric Services P.A., Partners in Pediatrics

Best Yoga Class
CorePower Yoga
CorePower Yoga has classes to meet fitness levels from beginner to expert yogi. With several area locations, you can find a class no matter where your busy schedule takes you. Music plays during classes to help you stay energized and focused while you stretch, tone and balance your body. 4611 Excelsior Blvd.; 612.922.9261.
Runner up: Lisa Petersen, Life Time Fitness

Best Fitness Studio

Pure Barre
Pure Barre is a great exercise option for those committed to protecting their joints. “There are no fast or large movements that could have a negative impact [on your joints],” says owner Robin Cornacchio. Classes are limited to 20 students, which creates an atmosphere of calm and focus. Any level of fitness is welcomed; results are noticeable in as little as 10 classes for many clients. “As long as you can hold on to the barre,” Cornacchio says, “you can do it!” 5620-A W. 36th St.; 952.378.1586.
Runners up: Life Time Fitness, Surge Cycling

Best New Green Initiative in The Park

City of St. Louis Park Organic Waste Program
Offering residents a way to reduce their footprint on the planet, St. Louis Park launched its new organic waste program in the fall of 2013. Using compostable bags provided by the city, community members can bag up food waste and paper goods associated with food (like napkins and pizza boxes) and have it all collected curbside. Not only can this help keep material out of landfills, organic waste can be used as a natural resource to help replenish soil and lessen erosion.

Joan Fenton
Parktacular president
Best Community Event/ Festival
“I truly love seeing people happy when times are tough and money is tight. For not much money, people can come out and have fun at Parktacular. That’s a real thrill for me.”


With all the great local shopping in The Park, there is no need to venture toward the malls to find the perfect gifts for family or friends—or the perfect something for yourself. And here’s a sweet surprise: Readers voted Park Yogurt as the Best New Shop this year, proving that all kinds of fun finds can brighten a day.

Best Boutique
Primp at the Shops at West End makes it easy to stay on top of all the latest trends at an affordable price: everything at this boutique is less than $100. “It’s easy to achieve the latest look without breaking the bank,” says Laura Fuglestad, store manager. Primp’s trend-savvy staff is ready with suggestions to help customers look their best, no matter what the occasion. 1628 West End Blvd.; 952.303.3791.
Runners up: Apricot Lane West End, MINQ

Best New Shop
Park Yogurt
Park Yogurt just opened last fall, but it’s already become a popular spot for local teens and families. Owner Nancy Pettit has lived in St. Louis Park for 18 years. “I know a lot of the kids, and right after school, it’s kind of their place,” she says. A variety of yogurt flavors, combined with a topping bar ranging from strawberries to crushed Kit Kat bars, means everyone can find their favorites for the perfect sundae. 6416 W. Lake St.; 952.999.0632.
Runners up: Apricot Lane West End, Vitali’s Bistro

Best Children’s Shop
Creative Kidstuff
Customers rave about the selection and service offered at the West End location. “Creative Kidstuff offers an interactive shopping experience,” says Happi Olson, director of sales and marketing. “Customers are encouraged to try things before they buy them in our store.” New merchandise arrives weekly, and is a hot commodity–the “new and trendy fly out as soon as they arrive”, says Olson. Shopping for a gift? Don’t forget the $1 giftwrap. 1665 West End Blvd.; 952.540.0022.
Runners up: Kiddywampus, Once Upon A Child

Best Small-business Customer Service
Bubbly Paws Dog Wash and Dog Spa
Co-owner Keith Miller credits his employees with the great service at Bubbly Paws, for customers and their pooches. “We take great care of our staff, since they are the ones that really go the extra mile every day to make sure everyone is happy,” says Miller. Bubbly Paws also gives back to the St. Louis Park community by donating $12,000 in goods and services to local pet rescues every year. 3730 Grand Way; 952.657.5300.
Runners up: Chears Audiology, Posers Photography

Best Gift Shop/Place to Buy Unique Gifts
Ellen Hertz, the owner of Max’s at Excelsior and Grand, likes the idea of carrying the unexpected and extraordinary, which is why you’ll find gourmet chocolates alongside fine jewelry. “We pride ourselves on having things you won’t find elsewhere in the Twin Cities,” she says. From bracelets made with blackened steel to diamonds, this shop is full of surprises. 3826 Grand Way; 952.922.8364.
Runners up: Patina in Golden Valley, Arts & Flowers Design Studio

Best Jeweler
Continental Diamond
Husband and wife team Helain and Jimmy Pesis started Continental Diamond 30 years ago, and now have a staff of 35. Helain Pesis credits their success to personal attention. “We have a huge selection of diamonds, rings, jewelry and watches that Jimmy and I have hand chosen for quality and value,” she says. “So you know exactly what you’re getting.” 1600 Utica Ave. Ste. 130; 952.593.5602.
Runners up: Bergstrom Jewelers, Wedding Day Diamonds

Best Eyewear
Pearle Vision
At Pearle Vision, owner Kim Burrage says “buying glasses has turned into fun.” Pearle Vision offers a great selection of frames at a variety of price points and their exceptional staff, including two doctors, can help customers select the perfect pair of glasses. Pearle Vision also has a presence in the St. Louis Park community apart from their stellar selection and service; they visit senior living residences to adjust and clean glasses and the store also donates glasses to those in need. 8510 Highway 7; 952.933.3722.
Runners up: Rose Optical, Park Nicollet

Best Place to Hear a Famous Speaker in The Park

Beth El Synagogue
What do author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Capt. Richard Phillips (whose story of capture by Somali pirates was featured in a recent Academy Award nominated film starring Tom Hanks) and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson have in common? During various speaker series events sponsored by Beth El Synagogue, they have all shared (or will share–Tyson is scheduled to be here in May) their unique and fascinating perspectives with eager audiences.

Best Sporting Goods

Hoigaard’s has served St. Louis Park since 1960; their theory is that being outdoors is even more fun with the right gear. “We have people here who have sold outdoor gear to four generations of St Louis Park families,” says Todd Brewer, general manager for Hoigaard’s. “We have the expertise and great products to take care of everyone, from the serious enthusiast to someone just getting started.” 5425 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.929.1351.
Runners up: House of Sport, Dick’s (Minnetonka)

Kids, Family and Pets

From children to seniors, there are plenty of great programs in The Park. Since school is a big part of family life, we’re happy to recognize Chad Austad, a veteran math teacher at St. Louis Park High School. And family always includes our pets—check out some local favorites for your furry friends.

Best Pet Grooming/Services
Bubbly Paws Dog Wash and Dog Spa
Schedule an appointment with one of Bubbly Paws’ expert groomers, or use the self-service tub to do it yourself. This locally owned business pays special attention to details, like their house shampoo, mixed exclusively for them in St. Paul. “We always go the extra mile to provide an outstanding experience for our 2 and 4 legged customers,” says co-owner Keith Miller. 3730 Grand Way; 952.657.5300.
Runners up: The Dog House, Petropawlis

Best Community Event/Festival

What began as a simple parade has grown into a four-day extravaganza featuring an inflatable waterslide, a Father’s Day waffle breakfast and a block party with live music. This event, totally managed by volunteers, relies on generosity from local businesses and sponsors each year. “We are humbled and extremely grateful for the time and support of the people, organizations, and businesses,” says Amy Sundem, marketing and promotion chair. “And we have a blast!” 3700 Monterey Drive.
Runners up: Woof ’n’ Treat, Fire Station Open House

Best Kids’ Birthday Spot
Park Tavern
You can’t go wrong with a bowling birthday party—and thank goodness for bumpers on the lanes. Party like an 8-year old at Park Tavern and enjoy a two-hour kid friendly party, complete with food, drinks, an hour of bowling and shoe rental for $13.95 per child. The birthday boy or girl will walk away with a pin autographed by all their friends. Teen pizza buffet/bowling parties available for $14.95 per person. 3401 Louisiana Ave. S.; 952.929.6810.
Runners up: Kiddywampus, St. Louis Park Rec Center

Best Golf Course

Meadowbrook Golf Club
A golfer’s paradise nestled within a bustling urban community, Meadowbrook is likely as bucolic today as it was when it first opened almost 90 years ago – but probably much busier. During the season, the club is a popular spot for men’s, women’s and junior leagues and also offers lessons for kids and adults. With its elegant fairways and gentle hills, this is the perfect place to sharpen your golf skills on a sunny afternoon. 201 Meadowbrook Road, Mpls.; 952.929.2077.
Runners up: Minneapolis Golf Club, Minikahda Club

Best Preschool/Daycare
Kids’ Place
Readers selected Kids’ Place for its high-quality preschool and day care experience. As part of St. Louis Park School District Community Education, Kids’ Place offers a curriculum that will prepare children for kindergarten and beyond. According to program coordinator Lisa Campbell, little ones can start off on the right foot in kindergarten with other youngsters they know. An added bonus: Kids’ Place is great for working families since they offer extended hours as well as before and after school programs. 6300 Walker St.; 952.928.6764.
Runners up: Kid Zone Child Care Center, KinderCare

Best Class/Program for Seniors
Lenox Community Center
With close to 20 ongoing weekly or monthly classes (plus events and outings), an additional 50 new programs offered every trimester, and spacious areas in which to learn and enjoy, senior programming at Lenox Community Center becomes more popular all the time. According to senior program coordinator Rita Kach, there’s likely a class to fit every interest: Tai Chi, ballroom dance, Pickleball, needlecraft and computer and technology sessions are just the tip of the iceberg. More information is available on their website. 6715 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.928.6444.
Runners up: Sabes JCC, Aquila Commons

Best Veterinary Services

All Paws Animal Hospital
The staff at All Paws Animal Hospital is so passionate about providing high quality, progressive veterinary care that it’s stated in their mission. Drs. Lisa Lindesmith and Holly Hamilton co-founded their clinic in 2001, offering services like preventive care, dental work and consultations for both nutrition and behavior. They also offer mixed breed analysis for those curious about their pet’s DNA. 5225 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.848.0913.
Runners up: Oak Knoll Animal Hospital, Westgate

Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel/Boarding

Pampered Pooch Playground
A founding member of the Twin Cities Dog Daycare Association, this popular pet place, owned by Keith Miller and his wife Patrycia, celebrates their sixth anniversary this month. Eleven live webcams stream the action from their 10,000 square feet of indoor play rooms all day, so you can check in on your pup wherever you are. Follow Fido on Facebook: Pampered Pooch’s social media channels are updated daily with adorable pictures of dogs at play. 7020 Walker St.; 952.922.8183.
Runners up: Petropawlis, Hot Dog Walking

Best Music Lessons
Maestoso Music Studio
With a staff of music educators and performers, owner Lara Dietrich says her studio puts the focus on helping students master their instruments. Each year, they partner with St. Louis Park public schools to give lessons to beginning students, instilling a lifelong love and appreciation for beautiful music. 3402 Library Lane; 612.423.2530.
Runners up: Sara Foster, St. Louis Park Piano

Best Homegrown Nonprofit in The Park

Sweet Dreams for Kids
Something as simple as a new pair of pajamas can give a terrific boost to a hospitalized child. Wendy and Mike Berezovsky spent hours at the hospital when their youngest child, Chaya Dalya, was born with cancer. Now a healthy elementary age student, she was their inspiration: to date, they have collected and distributed well over 10,000 pairs of new pajamas to children’s hospitals both locally and nationally.

Best High School Teacher
Chad Austad
St. Louis Park High School

A graduate of the class of 1991 at St. Louis Park High School, Austad has spent the last 16 years at the front of the classroom teaching math. He still wakes up every morning excited to be a teacher: “When I started teaching, I loved what I did, but people would always say to me, ‘that will get old’,” Austad says. “But it hasn’t yet and I don’t expect it to.” One of the veteran’s memorable moments: when he and four other teachers danced to a 10-song medley at a pep fest. “We enjoyed getting together the night before and making up dance moves to perform in front of the entire student body,” Austad says.
Runners up: Peter Redmond, St. Louis Park High School, Greg Goddard, St. Louis Park High School

Best Summer Program/Camp
St. Louis Park Rec Center Park Program
Here are just a few ways kids were entertained last summer, courtesy of the Rec Center Park Program: art classes dabbling in duct tape and Legos, outdoor skateboard camps, summer adventure programs featuring athletics, games, crafts and more, as well as the popular Fabulous Fridays. Who knows what they have in store this summer? Visit and get your kids ready for fun and games.
Runners up: YMCA (Edina), Kids’ Place

As the song from Sesame Street says, here are some of the people you meet in your neighborhood each day – all experts in their fields and always ready with the wisdom, tips and other suggestions that can help you in a variety of ways.

Best Salon/Spa
Phresh Spa Salon
General manager Jenn Mansfield calls Phresh “a team-based salon where everyone helps everyone” and goes above and beyond to make every client feel special. At this full service salon and spa, balayage hair coloring, in which stylists “paint” rather than using a foil or cap to create desired results, is just one of the on-trend services you can expect . Phresh also features natural products, like Oribe hair care, SkinCeuticals and Jane Iredale makeup. 1639 Park Place Blvd.; 763.452.3690.
Runners up: Darrin James Salon, Spa Blu

Best Realtor
Charlie Adair, Edina Realty
In his role as Realtor (now in his sixth year in St. Louis Park), Charlie Adair gets to sing the praises of this community to those who just might be interested in calling it home. “I think buyers seek out St. Louis Park for reasons like proximity to great amenities, strong schools, and safe and affordable neighborhoods,” Adair says, calling SLP “an up and coming city with excellent investment potential.” 612.986.2480.
Runners up: Kim Pease Team, Coldwell Banker Burnet; Matt Farley, Re/Max

Best Hairstylist/Barber
Darrin Miernicki at Darrin James Salon
According to Darrin Miernicki, great clientele and an atmosphere of respect might be the reasons he has been named a top stylist for the second year in a row by St. Louis Park Magazine readers. “I’ve been in the neighborhood a long time, and I have a great clientele, whom I consider friends,” he says. As a stylist since 1986 and one of the owners of Darrin James Salon, Miernicki says he’s “real with clients” and prides himself on the salon’s friendly atmosphere. 5105 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.922.3100.
Runners up: Alyssa Bauer at Tangles, Tami Townsend at Spa Blu

Best Insurance Agent
Susan Haub
Susan Haub has been in St Louis Park for 16 of her 22 years in the insurance business. She loves to sit down with her clients and listen to their needs. “I want to make sure they understand the coverage they have,” she says. Her team also includes three bilingual Spanish speakers. Haub works flexible hours to accommodate today’s busy schedules, too. “I’m always available to meet with someone,” she adds. 6801 Wayzata Blvd.; 952.929.6729.
Runners up: Karen Aaker, Greg Loffhagen

Best Financial Advisor
Sarah Wells at Citizens Independent Bank
As a financial advisor with Citizens Investment Services, Wells is passionate about her position and says she “makes sure clients understand the pros and cons and are educated.” Her loyal customers who trust her with their stocks, bonds and insurance make her job enjoyable. “I thrive on the feeling of helping someone,” says Wells, adding that she is able to work with a wide range of clientele as there are no minimum investments required. 5000 W. 36th St.; 952.915.8560.
Runners up: RDR Tax Consultants and Financial Planning, Mark Neverman at Edward Jones

Best Massage Therapist
Tianna Johnson at Darrin James Salon
Masseuse Tianna Johnson knows that every client she meets has different needs. “Whether they just want to relax after a long day or they have issues that need to be addressed, I always make sure to listen,” says Johnson. Special touches like hot towels and aromatherapy make each massage a luxurious experience. 5105 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.922.3100.
Runners up: West End Chiropractic and Wellness, Michael at Spalon Montage (Edina)

Best Photographer
Michelle Tanner
A portrait and wedding photographer with a background in design, Tanner says she “loves the storytelling aspect of photography” and works hard to capture timeless images and memories for her clients. Having photos taken shouldn’t be stressful and Tanner makes sure to create a stress-free environment for her clients. “I love the moment when a client realizes that photography doesn’t equate stress and is actually fun,” she says. 1330 Quincy St. NE, Mpls.; 952.221.7410.
Runners up: Posers Photography, Eva North

Mike Rakun
executive chef and partner, Mill Valley Kitchen
Best New Restaurant
“Paying attention to where food comes from has been an increasing trend for the last five to six years. We have complete transparency on our menus, listing all the nutritional information and the guests really appreciate it.”

Best Citizen in the Park

Jim Rhodes
A former member of the state House of Representatives (1993–2004), Jim Rhodes continues to serve the St. Louis Park community he loves in many ways including as an active member of the St. Louis Park Noon Rotary Club and a board member of the St. Louis Park Friends of the Arts, just to name a few of his extracurriculars. Rhodes recently “retired from retirement” and is now an endowments and pension director for Minneapolis Portfolio Management Group, but still makes time for meetings with friends and colleagues at various coffee shops around town.