The Best of St. Louis Park 2015

The votes are in: We present the best of 2015.

Click here to view photos by the talented Emily J. Davis from the 2015 Best of St. Louis Park celebration.

Here at St. Louis Park Magazine, this is our favorite time of year: putting together our annual list of the best of the best. Hundreds of you cast your ballots in our online readers’ choice survey, voting for your favorite restaurants, shops, child care centers, dance studios, clinics, animal hospitals and more. Thanks to our readers, we’re able to offer this handy guide to what makes our community so special. Cheers to you, St. Louis Park! And congratulations to the people and organizations who’ve earned this year’s awards.


Frosting-topped cupcakes are just some of the family-friendly delights to be found at Yum! Kitchen and Bakery. Photo by Tate Carlson

Food & Restaurants

A favorite restaurant is more than just a place to eat. It’s a place to support local craft and agriculture, to toast big moments or break from the mundane, where the staff feels like family and the jukebox tunes are comforting. It’s a place to sip sangria and people-watch, or chomp nachos and catch the game, where you can order the usual or discover a new favorite. Delivering exquisite flavor and exceptional service from the first to the final course, this year’s top St. Louis Park eateries offer something to satisfy everyone from your fussy tyke to your epicurean date.

Best Bakery
Honey & Rye Bakehouse    4501 Excelsior Blvd.     612.844.2555
At Honey & Rye Bakehouse, enthusiasm is the key ingredient. “[We] have just as much fun baking and serving pastries as customers have eating them,” says co-owner Emily Ackerman, on behalf of the all-female crew of bakers responsible for a delicious menu of pastries and bread. Despite supreme take-out options such as fresh baked loaves, cookies and sandwiches on French-style baguettes, many visitors find it difficult to resist the charm of the warm storefront café, which offers a cozy place to enjoy savory bread pudding, a slice of the signature Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie or a mug of eco-friendly coffee.
Runners up: Muddy Paws Cheesecake, Yum! Kitchen and Bakery

Best Burgers
Bunny’s Bar & Grill        5916 Excelsior Blvd.    952.922.9515 
Whether half-pound or third-pound, every Bunny’s burger comes with a flavor that is full-sized. Steve Koch, co-owner, attributes this to the quality of the lean meat patties as well as their flat-top grill preparation. The garden burger and Bunny’s burger receive rave reviews, but Koch stands by his personal favorite. “It doesn’t get much better than the Rack Attack, [which is] loaded up with all the things I like,” he says. That includes sautéed mushrooms, smoked bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, BBQ sauce and cheese. Each burger comes with a choice of fries, kettle chips, potato salad, coleslaw, fresh fruit, fresh or prepared veggies, or cottage cheese. Bunny’s buns are not to be overlooked. The rolls come in two bakery fresh styles: egg-wash and onion-studded.
Runners up: Burger Jones, Park Tavern

Best Tavern or Bar
Park Tavern        3401 Louisiana Ave. S.      952.929.6810
Regulars can attest to the neighborhood vibe of this restaurant/bowling alley, manned by some of the same employees since it opened more than 35 years ago. Owner Phil Weber suggests that the loyal crew, whose average term of employment is 12 years, is the key to Park Tavern’s success. “My staff knows people’s names and what they like to eat and drink. Customers appreciate a familiar face,” Weber says. The full bar boasts the largest selection of craft beers in the area and was among the first to tap brews from the Twin Cities’ Surly and Steel Toe breweries.
Runners Up: Bunny’s Bar & Grill, McCoy’s Public House


Cozy up with your sweetie at Crave’s top-notch sushi bar, winner of this year’s Best Date Night Spot award. Photo by Tate Carlson

Best Date Night Spot
Crave      1603 West End Blvd.     952.933.6500
When dining à deux this year, our readers ditched the staid and stodgy in favor of this chic-casual venue, offering sophisticated entrees and light bites, as well as an extensive list of wines not likely to disappoint. Crave is a top-notch prelude when catching a reel at the nearby ShowPlace Icon Theatre, and if you take a seat at the sushi bar, you’re in for a high-octane first act. You can whisper sweet nothings any old time, but if you want half-priced Kogi beef tacos and glazed edamame, you’ll have to get in during happy hour.
Runners up: Mill Valley Kitchen, Rojo Mexican Grill

Best Bartender
Shaun Farrow (Yard House)       1665 Park Place Blvd.      952.417.0490
When you visit a bar with more than 100 draft options, a knowledgeable tapster is a must. “Knowledgeable” is one word general manager Nichole Loggia applies to Yard House bartender Shaun Farrow. Farrow helps customers navigate the options, from hoppy-floral to dark-roasted, from Lodi to Chile and back to the Midwest, identifying their particular thirst with authentic, 100-proof zeal. He’s not the sort to chuckle at a mispronunciation of Dunkleweise or raise an eyebrow if you order a Pabst, either. His “welcoming, friendly character” distinguishes him just as much as his savvy about spirits.
Runner up: Chelsea Carson, Steel Toe Brewing

Best Kid-friendly Restaurant
Yum! Kitchen and Bakery     
4000 Minnetonka Blvd.      952.922.4000

The little mouths have spoken, and they want to know (pretty please with a cherry on top) when you’re taking them back to Yum! The bright, open floor plan is just one of the reasons for the bakery’s success among the backpack-toting, school-going set. The imaginative eats are another. Where else can you find one-bite mini burgers on from-scratch mini buns? Other young palate pleasers are the macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, margherita pizza and grilled cheese. Whether you’re after a flavor-filled meal or a marshmallow-filled treat, ample seating for large parties and an abundance of kid-friendly offerings make Yum! a prime destination for your next family outing.
Runners up: Bunny’s Bar & Grill, Park Tavern
 


Enjoy a colorful plate of Rojo’s veggie tacos as you dine al fresco. Photo by Tate Carlson

Best Patio Dining
Rojo Mexican Grill         1602 West End Blvd.       952.657.5385
There’s magic in that moment when the 20-foot wall/door at Rojo Mexican Grill opens up, according to Adam Leer, general manager. When the remote-powered bay rolls open, and an entire wall disappears in under 60 seconds, Leer says, “It’s not uncommon for people to burst into applause.” For roughly half the year, Rojo’s guests can enjoy a best-of-both-worlds dining experience. “The patio lends a unique indoor-outdoor feel to the entire space,” says Leer. Patio diners can enjoy seeing and being seen in the vibrant West End sector or turn their attention indoors to the games on the television screens. Overhead heaters ensure comfort on brisk days and an awning provides shade on sunnier ones.
Runners Up: Cooper Irish Pub, Crave

Best New Restaurant
Yard House           1665 Park Place Blvd.        952.417.0490
This recent addition to the local gastro-scape is worth celebrating. Whether meeting friends for Sunday Night Football or planning a large-scale corporate bash, our readers are enthused about the upscale casual chain’s new St. Louis Park location. General manager Nichole Loggia credits the restaurant’s fast-building popularity to its “fun and upbeat vibe” as well as to the dedication of the staff. “They really put their hearts into each item they prepare and every service they provide,” she says. The menu is another win, with dazzling temptations for every palate. Even veg options exceed the standards of green salad and bean patties, with menu space devoted to mock beef and chicken dishes, including meat-free buffalo wings.
Runners up: Honey & Rye Bakehouse, Urban Sub

Best Dessert Spot
Yum! Kitchen and Bakery       4000 Minnetonka Blvd.         952.922.4000
Yum!’s bakery team uses high-quality ingredients and traditional recipes to make their from-scratch desserts. “What makes [our] desserts extra special is that we bake nonstop,” says owner Patti Soskin. While keeping up with demand for staple items like the Patticake, Yum!’s team never ceases to innovate, updating the pastry menu on a monthly basis to include seasonally inspired variations and fresh takes on classics. All unsold baked goods are donated to the Perspectives, Inc. after school program in St. Louis Park.
Runners Up: Mill Valley Kitchen, Park Yogurt

Best Place for Craft Beer on Tap
Yard House        1665 Park Place Blvd.       952.417.0490
With more than 100 local, domestic and imported beers on tap, including seasonal varieties and rotating monthly selections, even the most ardent of brew buffs can find their favorite or discover something new at Yard House. Local and regional breweries such as Indeed, Surly and Bells are prominently featured in the Chalkboard Series of limited availability drafts. To know what’s flowing before you go, you can check out the website’s up-to-the-minute listing.
Runners up: McCoy’s Public House, Steel Toe Brewing


Jackie Halverson, our readers’ favorite interior designer, helps St. Louis Park residents spruce up their abodes. Photo by Tate Carlson

Homes

The jury’s still out on that old “good fences, good neighbors” adage. Here’s something that requires no poetic musing: We’ve got some fantastic neighbors, good for much more than mending a wall. Whether installing a garden to explore a budding passion, giving your space some personal flair, expanding to keep pace with a growing family or starting from scratch with a blueprint, our community has no shortage of friendly, responsive professionals to help make your house a home. (And to keep the heat on and the driveway plowed, too.)

Best Interior Designer
Jackie Halverson (Anchor Builders)       6121 Excelsior Blvd., Suite 209        952.285.9373
“Jackie has a strong work ethic and the ability to create a space that perfectly reflects the personality and lifestyle of her clients,” says Barak Steenlage, co-owner of Anchor Builders. Halverson, who has appeared in several episodes of the HGTV series Renovation Raiders, joined the Anchor Builders family in 2014 to provide customers with the option of a complete, in-house design/build experience. Melding artistic vision with project management skills, Halverson guarantees seamless implementation of her residential re-designs.
Runners up: Wendy Rostal, Rostal Design; Laura Potter, Laura Potter Designs

Best Heating/ AC Company
One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating        6437 Goodrich Ave.        952.920.3800    
Having a reliable repair service is a huge relief on a blustery February or stifling August day. One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating has a commitment to speedy, round the clock emergency service that is 100 percent guaranteed. The technicians serving our area arrive with the full toolkit of specialty parts, materials and know-how needed to resolve even the trickiest of heating and AC issues.
Runner up: Vogt Heating and Air Conditioning


All-over white and gray is on trend in this bathroom by Best Builder, Anchor Builders. Drafted and designed by Fluidesign Studio. Photo by Seth Benn Photography

Best Builder
Anchor Builders        6121 Excelsior Blvd., Suite 209      952.285.9373  
“We care about the experience just as much as the outcome,” says Barak Steenlage, co-owner and project director of Anchor Builders. “[Our customers] feel at ease and in the loop at all stages of the design and build process.” Steenlage stresses his company’s commitment to keeping an open line of communication and respecting client input on creative options, deadlines and budget. Taking on only a dozen engagements per year, Anchor Builders ensures superior craftsmanship, great customer service and an individualized approach to every undertaking.
Runners up: Choice Wood Company, Sicora Design Build

Best Yard Service
CN’R Lawn N’ Landscape        6315 Cambridge St.       952.942.5296
      
CN’R Lawn N’ Landscape has provided the same level of personalized service for more than two decades. “We’re not small anymore, but we kept the philosophy,” says Wayne LaRoche, office manager. “This isn’t a cookie-cutter service. We hear customers’ needs loud and clear.” Operating as two seasonal companies in one, CN’R offers lawn care and landscaping in the warmer months, and snow removal and holiday light installation in the colder months. As the weather forecast is instrumental in planning a landscaping project, co-owner Craig LaRoche’s affinity for weather watching is an additional edge.
Runners up: Rainbow Treecare, Green Horizons

Best Home Retail/Furnishing
CIEL Loft and Home         4416 Excelsior Blvd.        952.922.2747
As co-owners of CIEL Loft and Home, Andy Higgins and Chad Newman harness the inherent beauty of weathered goods, transforming salvaged materials into one-of-a-kind pieces with an aesthetic Higgins calls “industrial but warm.” The business is also driven by a shared desire to “do some general goodness,” Higgins says. CIEL makes meaningful contributions to the local economies in the dozen countries from which it imports. Higgins credits the diversity of his store’s collection to this “full blend of international suppliers” as well as to the “Minnesota dudes” who frequently collaborate with him.
Runners up: Odds and Ends Furniture Gallery, Woody’s Furniture


Park Nicollet’s Women’s Center’s peaceful waiting area overlooks Minnehaha Creek. Photos courtesy of Park Nicollet

Health and Wellness

With so many ways to achieve health and harmony without leaving St. Louis Park, our community is feeling better and smiling more brightly than ever. Here are your most trusted health care clinics and wellness centers, where you can clear your mind with the help of a yoga instructor or your skin with the help of an esthetician or dermatologist. This year’s winners include dental and medical practices devoted to pediatric care, as well a senior living community that promises to make the golden years truly sparkle.

Best Pediatric Clinic
Park Nicollet        3800 Park Nicollet Blvd.        952.993.3298
This major medical center offers a full range of standard pediatric care, including annual check-ups, immunizations and treatment for common illnesses, as well as ongoing treatment of chronic diseases. The comprehensive care team includes child-life specialists, who work alongside the clinic’s doctors and nurses to answer questions and offer explanations in simple language. They also engage younger patients in the examination and treatment process. Healthy kids, healthy community.
Runners up: Pediatric Services, Partners in Pediatrics

Best Chiropractic Clinic
West End Chiropractic and Wellness       1660 Highway 100 S., Suite 146        952.500.8477  
The chiropractors, rehab specialists, nutritional consultants and massage therapists at West End Chiropractic and Wellness excel at achieving health goals, whether they pertain to pain management, sports rehab, weight loss or improving golf posture. The clinic’s team presents a thorough understanding of the human body’s complexity, as well as a dedication to positive patient experience. “We break from the traditional model of a medical clinic,” says Dr. Andrew Schwert, chiropractor. “We treat every person who walks in the door as if they were part of our family.” This commitment goes a long way in dispelling the feelings of discomfort and dread so often associated with visits to the doctor.
Runners up: Boulevard Chiropractic Clinic, Lake Pointe Chiropractic & Wellness

Best Dental Clinic
Park Dental      5000 W. 36th St., Suite 250       952.920.3700    
“What sets this clinic apart is our great team of dentists, hygienists, assistants and front office staff,” says Park dentist Ira Rabinowitz. The exceptional service extends beyond the dentist’s chair and waiting room, as Park Dental is committed to making it easier for patients to fit a dental visit into their busy lives. They offer appointments as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 8 p.m. on several weekdays, and set aside Saturdays for children’s appointments.
Runners up: Metro Dentalcare, Tranquility Dental

Best Fitness / Yoga Studio
Life Time Athletic
       5525 Cedar Lake Road       952.546.5474  
Part of surviving a Minnesota winter is finding a great place to break a sweat when it’s below zero outside. Life Time Athletic offers just that, with a profusion of amenities. This gym-on-steroids includes an indoor golf center and pool; courts for tennis, squash and racquetball; instructor-led lessons, weight-loss aerobics classes, yoga and Pilates; one-on-one sports training; organized outdoor jogs and rides; a full-service spa; and medical services at on-site chiropractic and primary care facilities. And with a café dishing out wholesome replenishment and a drop-off center for kids and infants, leaving Life Time Athletic is the hard part.
Runners up: CorePower Yoga, Yoga Center Minneapolis


Urban Retreat’s waiting area feels more like a cozy living room than a typical medspa. Photo by Emily J. Davis

Best Medspa/Rejuvenation Clinic
Urban Retreat        4608 Excelsior Blvd.       952.974.7858     
“We take a genuine interest in every one of our clients and provide the most effective treatments at reasonable prices,” says Heather Bruneau-Spillane, co-owner of Urban Retreat. She and business partner Suzanne O’Brien enjoy seeing their clients develop the confident glow that comes with improving the look and health of one’s skin. They offer medical grade treatments for a range of skin conditions, including acne scarring, sun damage and hyperpigmentation, as well as salon services such as waxing, facials, eyelash extensions, hair removal and a makeup bar.
Runners up: Positive Body Dynamics, Phresh

Best Orthodontic Clinic
Family Orthodontics       5804 Excelsior Blvd.     952.922.7117    
Dr. Angela Ross brings more than 25 years of professional experience to her practice at Family Orthodontics. Along with associate Jacquelyn Schieck, Ross honors a commitment to keep abreast of new trends and practices in this ever-changing profession. Just as braces have undergone a transformation from terrifying, clunky and metallic to sleek and stylish (and in some cases invisible), this upscale clinic’s modern vibe is sure to put a smile on patients’ faces as soon as they enter.
Runners up: All Care Dentistry, Orthodontic Care Specialists

Best Eye Clinic
Park Nicollet       3800 Park Nicollet Blvd.        952.993.3150
The eye care professionals at Park Nicollet offer a full-range of services, from routine eye exams for adults and children to glaucoma and cataract screenings and complex surgeries. The clinic also offers laser vision correction with free screenings and consultations.
Runners up: Rose Fashion Optical, Whiting Clinic

Best Dermatology Clinic
Park Nicollet      3800 Park Nicollet Blvd.    952.993.3260   
Park Nicollet’s team of dermatologists, family practice doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants understand that accurate and early diagnosis and treatment is best practice in the case of skin concerns. Offering everything from laser surgery to preventive and cosmetic surgeries, the comprehensive clinic includes a state-of-the-art Mohs surgical center as well as a phototherapy unit.
Runner up: Academic Dermatology

Best Senior Living Residence
Parkshore Senior Campus
       3663 Park Center Blvd.      952.925.6231   

Whether they live in the assisted living, memory care, apartment living or short stay facility, Parkshore residents enjoy a “vibrant, enriching environment [where] life is lived to the fullest,” says Mary Richards, marketing director. For Parkshore staff, a commitment to quality of life is paramount. This pledge extends well beyond the fundamentals of safety and security and includes a daily menu of chef-prepared meals, full calendar of community events and outings, as well as access to a first-rate fitness center and heated pool. Parkshore’s proximity to Wolfe Park and shopping centers means that residents have easy access to a range of activities just beyond their doorstep.
Runners up: Sholom Home West/ Menorah Plaza, TowerLight


Susan Hanegan Burdorf is always on hand to help customers find the perfect pairing at Gourmet Oil and Vinegar. Photo By Emily J. Davis

Retail

St. Louis Park’s shopping options are second to none. Our purveyors run the gamut from small, locally sourced handicraft shops to the sophisticated dine-shop-movie experience at The Shops at West End. Our only complaint? Fighting the crowds who are as excited as we are. If you’ve been bitten by the retail bug, check out this year’s list of best hot spots.

Best Foodie Shop
Gourmet Oil & Vinegar      3840 Grand Way     952.303.4220
Whether you’re a lifelong gourmand or a newcomer to the foodie world, Gourmet Oil & Vinegar offers 60-plus varieties of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegars—along with a knowledgeable staff who can offer samples and help you find the best oil and vinegar for your recipes or gifts. “The flavors, from Persian lime olive oil to the traditional 18-year aged balsamic, add so much to meals—so you don’t have to be a gourmet cook,” owner Susan Hanegan Burdorf says. She also notes the store’s free extras, such as recipe cards. And every Thursday, the store offers 10 percent off purchases.
Runners up: Yum! Kitchen and Bakery, Good Day Café

Best Boutique
Primp        1628 West End Blvd.         952.303.3791
One of the hottest boutiques in town proves that fashion doesn’t need to cost a fortune. With on-trend clothes like skirts, tops, jeans and dresses—all under $100—this charming shop nestled in the bustling West End has the perfect look for a girls’ night in or a night on the town.
Runners up: Evereve (formerly Hot Mama), Apricot Lane

Best Small-business Customer Service
Chears Audiology        5808 W. 36th St.        952.767.0672  
Audiologist Kim Fishman treats hearing-related health care as a long-term process—not a quick fix or an afterthought. And her individualized, compassionate service is a clear favorite with our readers. “I meet people’s needs in a friendly, knowledgeable and price-conscious way with great service,” Fishman says. “We work in a rehabilitative way, finding what is best for a patient. It’s not just about a product.” Fishman’s 19 years of experience shine through. Cheers to Chears!
Runners up: Waxing the City, Mama’s Happy

Best Jewelry Store
Max’s       3826 Grand Way      952.922.8364
When you walk into Max’s at Excelsior & Grand, you’ll notice beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry—as well as an array of delicious chocolate. “We try to have as many exclusive relationships with our designers and chocolatiers as we can, as we think finding things that are new and not available elsewhere in town makes it more interesting for our customers,” says owner Ellen Hertz. “We also hold several trunk shows throughout the year in which a designer is in the store, enabling our customers to interact with them directly.” Jewelry and sweets? See you there.
Runner up: Continental Diamond

Best Liquor Store
Liquor Boy        5620 Cedar Lake Road       952.512.2200
At Liquor Boy, they have a saying: The Liquor Boy Way. “It’s an unparalleled selection of great products, outstanding customer service and low prices,” says employee Matt Hoiland. “The free parking and carryout service also make us unique.” Stock up for your next cocktail party—or dash in for a last-minute hostess gift.
Runners up: Liquor Barrel, The Four Firkins

Best Coffee Shop
Honey & Rye Bakehouse       4501 Excelsior Blvd.       612.844.2555    
Walk into Honey & Rye Bakehouse and you’ll feel comfortable, cozy and warm. Order one of their espresso drinks or regular coffees—brewed fresh from local Roastery 7’s Tiny Footprint beans—and grab a fresh-baked pastry. Your morning is now perfectly complete. “Our customers tell us they’re thankful that we’re in this community,” says co-owner Emily Ackerman. “They say it feels like the business has been here for a long time.” Readers agree, and we hope this new Best Coffee Shop will stick around for years to come.
Runners up: Vitali’s Bistro, Yum! Kitchen and Bakery


Wife-and-husband team Sasha Zoghi and Saeid Homayouni opened Revolution Salon in September 2014. Photo by Emily J. Davis

Best New Shop
Revolution Salon       5600 W. 36th St.        612.284.8222
The mission at Revolution Salon is to ensure that every client walks out feeling and looking incredible. “We strive to create stunning hair with the latest techniques,” says stylist and co-owner Sasha Zoghi. “We use products that clients can take with them so they always feel beautiful, even when doing their hair at home.” Revolution Salon opened in September and it already feels like a neighborhood mainstay.
Runners up: Mama’s Happy, Waxing the City

Best Consignment Shop

Upscale Consignment       5640 W. 36th St.      952.929.9664
Where to find high-end clothing at budget-friendly prices? A consignment store might be your answer. With consistently new inventory, well organized sizes and styles, and friendly staff, Upscale Consignment might become a permanent fixture on your wardrobe shopping rotation.
Runners up: Rodeo Drive, Opitz

Best Shoe Store

Schuler Shoes     5201 Excelsior Blvd.      952.926.3446   
Schuler Shoes has been perfecting the art of shoe-fitting for more than 125 years, throughout four generations. The professional and knowledgeable staff make your experience, ahem, a walk in the park.
Runners up: DSW, Optiz

Best Car Dealership
Morrie’s       6661 Wayzata Blvd.        952.449.2000
Morrie Wagener acquired his first dealership in 1960 and wanted to create a one-of-a-kind customer service experience. Since then, Morrie’s Automative Group came to life and thrives on the motto, “Buy Happy.” Morrie’s 394 Hyundai sells new and used cars, all with the help of an honest and informed sales team.
Runners up: Westside Volkswagen, German Auto Works

Best Florist
Arts & Flowers Design Studio       6011 Excelsior Blvd.       952.920.8415    
Featuring the freshest flowers from all over the world, full service flower shop Arts & Flowers has been producing beautiful arrangements for more than 14 years. The shop is also stocked with gifts, cards and unusual garden plants, so it’s a one-stop shop when you want to spread a little love.
Runners up: Linsk Flowers, Byerly’s

Best Gift Shop
Guild Collective       4414 Excelsior Blvd.       952.378.1815  
The team at Guild Collective is always looking for products they think St. Louis Park residents will love. “We continually challenge ourselves to mix new goods, handmade goods and vintage in a collective setting,” Guild partner Sheila Leiter says. “Our vision six years ago was to gather creative talent under one roof and continually curate our goods and showcase the best products possible.” You’ll find one-of-a-kind gifts and home accents at Guild.
Runners up: Max’s, Judith McGrann & Friends

Kids, Family and Pets

When it comes to kids and pets, we know you have high standards. And in St. Louis Park, we’re lucky to have a variety of great child care centers and pet experts at the ready. From organic kids’ food harvested right from the garden to doggy webcams so you can check on Fido while you’re at work, these Best Of businesses show that excellent family care is all in the details.

Best Place to Spoil Your Pet
Bubbly Paws Dog Wash      3730 Grand Way      952.657.5300   
Bubbly Paws, from the team that brings us Pampered Pooch, another Park favorite, offers a low-stress environment for dogs: walk-in tubs, lots of natural light and highly trained personal groomers. “We really try to make our store like a spa: a relaxing environment and friendly staff that love to spoil the dogs,” says manager Lill Luce. “We carry unique, high quality and fun products that both dogs and their owners love.” We call it good clean fun.
Runners up: Lulu & Luigi’s, Petropawlis

Best Veterinary Clinic
Oak Knoll Animal Hospital       6315 Minnetonka Blvd.      952.929.0074  
Since it’s been part of the community for more than 30 years, it’s no surprise that St. Louis Park residents trust Oak Knoll Animal Hospital with the care of their four-legged family members. Oak Knoll offers routine wellness checks, dental care and more for furry patients. “We are committed to maintaining a compassionate, knowledgeable and qualified staff,” says practice manager Kari Klassen.
Runners up: All Paws Animal Hospital, Westgate Animal Hospital

Best Preschool/ Child Care
Kid Zone Child Care Center       3700 Alabama Ave. S.        952.929.7636    
Kid Zone has been providing high quality child care for infants, toddlers and preschoolers in St Louis Park for more than 20 years. “We have built strong relationships with our families and the larger St. Louis Park community,” says Melissa Davis, assistant director. “Kid Zone is committed to nurturing the whole child; our dedicated staff encourages inquisitive thinking by using children’s natural inclination to explore using all five senses.” Kid Zone also has an organic garden and offers on-site meal preparation, including lots of organic choices.
Runners up: Kids’ Place at Lenox Community Center, Wooddale Community Nursery School

Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel
Pampered Pooch Playground       7020 Walker St.       952.922.8183   
At Pampered Pooch, you can get updates on your dog throughout your day—much as you would for a child at daycare. Co-owner Keith Miller says his team has embraced technology, including webcams, so owners can log on and see what their furry friends are up to. Miller explains why Pampered Pooch is a perennial Park favorite: “Basically, we love to have fun, treat our employees well and take outstanding care of the dogs that visit!”
Runners up: Petropawlis, Hot Dog Walking

Best Dance Studio
Park Dance Center        6900 Oxford St.       952.583.2792
    
Park Dance Center offers a variety of dance and fitness classes for toddlers and up—including adults. “We provide excellent quality instruction to all ages and abilities, while instilling the love and joy of dance through a fun and upbeat atmosphere,” says owner and director Gretchen Novak. Park Dance Center’s studios are equipped with suspended dance floors, mirrors and ballet barres.
Runners up: On Your Toes School of Dance, Barre Bliss


Insurance agent Greg Loffhagen has his clients’ best interests at heart.

Services

Whether you’re looking for an insurance policy or an indulgence (hello, massage!), these local businesses and individuals all have a passion for meeting customers with a friendly face.

Best Insurance Agent
Greg Loffhagen, State Farm       4801 Excelsior Blvd.        952.920.4035    
State Farm agent Greg Loffhagen has had a consistent presence in our community for more than 35 years, and says he loves the privilege of serving here. “We feel great satisfaction when we give people peace of mind by providing the best in insurance and financial services to protect them and their families,” Loffhagen says. “We have 24/7 customer service, a very warm and welcoming office environment to make our staff and clients comfortable, and a great company behind us that will be here now and into the future.”
Runners up: Susan Haub, State Farm; Scott Mobley, American Family Insurance

Best Financial Advisor
Mark Nevermann, Edward Jones        7500 Olson Memorial Highway       763.595.7315
St. Louis Park neighbors trust experienced advisor Mark Nevermann for financial guidance, from college planning to retirement planning and everything in between.
Runners up: Kim Mitchell, Thrivent; Michael Kirschling, J. Bentley Insurance

Best Hairstylist/Barber
Sasha Zoghi, Revolution Salon        5600 W. 36th St.        612.284.8222      
Sasha Zoghi wants all her clients to walk out of Revolution Salon, a newcomer to St. Louis Park, feeling—and looking—fabulous. Zoghi travels to Los Angeles and New York City to work at Fashion Week every year, which she says helps her stay up-to-date on the latest trends and styles. “I know that our clients love the fact that I can keep them in the loop of what is happening in hair,” Zoghi says.
Runners up: Rochelle Farrow, Darrin James Salon and Spa; Darrin Miernicki, Darrin James Salon and Spa 

Best Nail Salon
Honey Nails        3916 Excelsior Blvd.       952.920.0989
A manicure or pedicure is the epitome of affordable indulgence, often requiring less than an hour to spare and less than $100. For your next mini spa day, visit St. Louis Park favorite Honey Nails. Located in the heart of the city, Honey Nails’ qualified aestheticians offer top-notch service and glamorous results.
Runners up: Glamour Nails, Ocean Spa and Nails

Best Massage Therapist
Sara Garnier, West End Chiropractic      1660 Highway 100 S., Suite 146       952.500.8477
St. Louis Park neighbors clearly love massage therapist Sara Garnier—and she loves them back. “I’m lucky to work with some highly skilled professionals,” Garnier says, “but what makes going to work so great is our patient base. We have such lovely, dedicated people really interested in their health. After doing this for 12 years, I still truly enjoy going to work.” If your muscles need a little TLC, look no further, says Garnier. “It’s rewarding to help people get out of pain.”
Runners up: Tianna Johnson, formerly at Darrin James Salon and Spa; Christa Caputa, Urban Retreat Salon

Best Real Estate Agent
Charlie Adair, Edina Realty      4354 Coolidge Ave.       612.986.2480
Edina Realty agent Charlie Adair has been around your block, probably multiple times. A 30-year resident of the Twin Cities, he has an extensive knowledge of our area and a passion for helping families find their perfect home. “I think my clients appreciate just how much I have their best interests in mind,” Adair says, adding with a laugh, “I am down-to-earth and straightforward, which is maybe a little unusual for a real estate agent.”
Runners up: Richard Webb, Keller Williams; Susan Melbye, Edina Realty

Best Salon/Spa
Darrin James Salon and Spa       5105 Minnetonka Blvd.        952.922.3100   
Whether it’s a facial, a manicure or a haircut, Darrin James Salon and Spa is our community’s go-to salon. (Darrin James stylists have been finalists in our Best Stylist category for the past three years, too). “We’re a family salon with uptown style,” owner Darrin Miernicki says. “Our staff knows how great St. Louis Park is; we’ve built wonderful relationships with residents here.”
Runners up: Revolution Salon, Phresh


Step back in time at Cooper Irish Pub. Photo by Emily J Davis

Editor's Picks

Best Place to Step Back in Time
Cooper Irish Pub      1607 Park Place Blvd.      952.698.2000
When we’re feeling a little blue about the state of the modern world, we like to visit Cooper Irish Pub at The Shops at West End. Walk through the front doors, and you’re transported to the turn of the 20th century, surrounded by tall windows and imposing draperies, ornate woodwork, old-fashioned candlelight, and—the centerpiece itself—a massive horseshoe-shaped bar, inset with artwork and antique mirrors. Do yourself a favor as you order a glass of something (Irish beer or whiskey, perhaps), and put the smartphone away.

Best Learning Center
Mathnasium        4590 Excelsior Blvd.      763.269.6969
For some kids, a school classroom’s math methods just aren’t a great fit. Using its own curriculum, Mathnasium helps students in grades K–12 understand math concepts instead of just memorizing facts and procedures. Center director Travis Loeschen says, “I think what makes St. Louis Park such a great community to be part of is that everyone—parents, teachers and [our team]—seems to be focused on how to best meet each student’s individual needs.”

Best Landscape Designer
McChesney Landscape Design        952.927.5764
Small, family-owned, community-oriented businesses can seem a little scarce these days. That’s why McChesney Landscape Design is such a local gem: In addition to the top-notch design skills, project management and build-out guidance the firm offers, Wayne McChesney says he loves the small-business values of his company. We’re happy to recognize this perennial Park favorite as an editor’s choice this year.

Best Spirit of St. Louis Park
Joan Fenton      Parktacular 2015:June 18-21
As far as community festivals go, our very own Parktacular is the cream of the crop. Every summer, neighbors come together to celebrate the city and enjoy a parade, great food, and a bevy of music and activities. Of course, it takes a dedicated group of volunteers and board members, who work all year round, to keep things running. Steering this fantastic fest is St. Louis Park treasure Joan Fenton, Parktacular president and organizer extraordinaire. The next time you see Fenton out and about, thank her for year after year of great summer memories.

Best Natural Hidden Gem
Minnehaha Creek at Methodist Hospital
Six years ago, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District completed a project to restore the meandering Minnehaha Creek—which runs through St. Louis Park and neighboring towns—back to a more natural shape. The result, which includes a peaceful restored wetland area, is right in Park Nicollet’s Methodist Hospital’s backyard. Hospital visitors, patients and employees enjoy stunning views over the tall grasses and gently flowing creek, and can even stroll through the wetland on a raised boardwalk. A little quiet time in nature? Healing indeed. Boardwalk access on Louisiana Avenue at the Park Nicollet campus.

Best Kids Making a Difference
Jamie and Jason Kraft
We first met Jamie and Jason Kraft during an interview for “Meeting Mother Earth,” a feature story about the Kraft family (St. Louis Park Magazine, July 2014), who traveled the globe over the course of a year, exploring environmental conservation and cultural awareness on almost every continent. 10-year-old Jamie and 8-year-old Jason brought their passion for the environment home with them, educating classmates at Peter Hobart Elementary about their favorite nonprofit: the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in Costa Rica. For setting a stellar example and just being pretty cool kids, the Kraft siblings are this year’s best kids making a difference. Kudos!