It’s our annual Best of St. Louis Park issue, and I find myself asking what it means to be “the best.” Perhaps I date myself when I recall the adage, “Good, better, best, Never let it rest, ‘Til your good is your better, And your better is your best.” Certainly we call something “best” when what is produced exceeds our highest expectations. But I also think to some degree it’s the effort and not just the product we appreciate when we call something “the best.” In a restaurant like Yum! we value not only divine fare but an owner like Patti Soskin who is always on the lookout for something fresh and new. A trip to the Revolution Salon can produce any number of excellent outcomes—great haircut, facial, manicure—but when a service provider like Sasha Zoghi goes out of her way to ask about our family or better yet, acknowledges that even at 60 we want to look great, this makes a difference in how we mentally rate the experience. A busy physician who patiently sits through all our questions is providing a service beyond excellent medical practice. They are also showing us they care. And when people like insurance agent Denise Aasen of State Farm says, “I am so thankful to be here in St. Louis Park, I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” know that she is one of many, many of “our best” here in St. Louis Park who place great value on living and working in a community they love. A million thanks to all of you readers who voted for the best of everything in our community. We think you’re the best, too.
Best Patio Dining
Rojo Mexican Grill
With their signature margaritas and fresh new takes on classic dishes, Rojo Mexican Grill keeps its spot as Best Patio Dining. Manager Matt Linse says, “We prioritize fresh ingredients with all our food and our cocktails. Our happy hour is unique in that we offer special pricing, but portions are just as generous. We have one of the largest patios in the area and easy parking. Customers love knowing that they can get a table and enjoy the outdoors stress-free.”
RUNNERS UP: Park Tavern, Crave
Yum! Kitchen and Bakery
A St. Louis Park fixture for 11 years, Yum! Kitchen and Bakery offers a winning combination of delicious food and the warmth of what’s become a favorite neighborhood gathering place. Owner Patti Soskin credits their everything-from-scratch menu and their homey feel. “We keep things fresh and seasonal, so something is always new.” Be sure to try the Patticake, a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting that’s earned a cult following.
RUNNERS UP: Mill Valley Kitchen, Good Day Cafe
Bunny’s Bar and Grill
Lively and historic (Bunny’s dates back to the end of Prohibition in 1933), Bunny’s is a St. Louis Park favorite offering breakfast, lunch and dinner along with cocktails and craft beer. A comfortable neighborhood bar with free popcorn and a complimentary Bloody Mary or screwdriver with their signature Sunday breakfast, Bunny’s keeps us coming back for more.
RUNNERS UP: Park Tavern, Cooper Irish Pub
Good Day Café
Good Day Café takes its place as St. Louis Park’s favorite breakfast spot for the second year in a row. From classic fried eggs with sausage and potatoes to the more adventuresome Crab Cake Eggs Benny, breakfast at Good Day Café will start your day on a delicious note.
RUNNERS UP: Yum! Kitchen and Bakery, Bunny’s Bar and Grill
Once again, you voted Anchor Builders as Best Builder. Rooted in their family farm where they worked on building projects together, the Steenlage brothers started working on homes as a way to fund their college educations, and from there, they grew Anchor Builders into a thriving family business that’s won numerous awards. Owner Barak Steenlage credits “an amazing end-product, and a fun experience at a fair price” for Anchor’s success. “We take total responsibility and accountability for clear communication and reliable results.” Steenlage says, “I love that we can use our skills at Anchor to help other St. Louis Park residents remodel and build their dream homes in such a great community.”
RUNNERS UP: Ridge Creek Custom Homes, Craft Homes
Family-owned Anchor Builders takes first place once again as your favorite remodeler, specializing in larger house additions and remodels. Co-owner Barak Steenlage says, “We work with our in-house designers and crew to deliver efficient floor plans, custom features and fine finishes.” Anchor “updates and expands homes while staying true to the character of the neighborhood. We’re happy that we can delight the most discerning Twin Cities metro families.”
RUNNERS UP: Sicora, Craft Homes
Best Landscape Designer
McChesney Landscape Design
With owner Wayne McChesney’s enthusiasm for creating outdoor spaces, it’s no wonder that McChesney Landscape Design is St. Louis Park’s favorite for the fourth year running. He collaborates with his clients to choose just the right plants for each environment. “It’s all about color and the palette of plants. I work with clients so that they can enjoy color in their landscapes all four seasons of the year.”
RUNNER UP: CHW Landscape Design
Best Senior Living Residence
Executive director Jake Schneider credits TowerLight’s intergenerational programming as one of the reasons readers voted TowerLight as Best Senior Living Residence. A daycare located right next door lets TowerLight’s seniors stay connected to kids through activities like creating art, pancake breakfasts and musical programs. Says Schneider, “Residents and kids form bonds, and residents are fully integrated into the community. Whether it’s decorating cupcakes together or chatting on the patio, kids bring life and help our residents stay fully active.” Schneider names TowerLight’s focus on customer service and their compassionate care as part of what makes TowerLight a St. Louis Park favorite. TowerLight also brings in speakers so residents can stay informed and current with community issues. TowerLight offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, and care suites and studio apartments for enhanced care.
RUNNERS UP: Parkshore Senior Campus, Sholom Home West.
Best Interior Designer
Martha O’Hara (Martha O’Hara Interiors)
Readers love interior designer Martha O’Hara, and the feeling is mutual. Says O’Hara, “The people here enjoy fresh ideas and timeless tastes, which is a combination we love as a design firm.” O’Hara launched her design career in 1988 when she discovered her passion for design after moving six times through five states and two countries. O’Hara leads a team of award-winning designers that “creates beautiful spaces with the goal of connecting life and style.” Whether you’re building a new home or updating your furniture, O’Hara offers “style, functionality and value.”
RUNNERS UP: Laura Potter Designs, Jackie Halvorson (Anchor Builders)
Best Veterinary Clinic
Oak Knoll Animal Hospital
Part of the St. Louis Park community for over 30 years, readers voted Oak Knoll Animal Hospital as Best Veterinary Clinic for the second year in a row. “Compassion for pets and their owners is always our priority,” says Dr. Tracy Earl. Whether it’s routine wellness care or complex laser surgery, St. Louis Park trusts Oak Knoll to care for our beloved animal companions.
RUNNERS UP: All Paws Animal Hospital, City Cat Clinic
Part of St. Louis Park Schools, Kids’ Place’s child care options for working families earned the top spot for Best Preschool and Childcare. “What sets us apart is our staff. They’re the best of the best,” says program manager Lisa Campbell. “It feels like we have our own little neighborhood here.”
RUNNERS UP: Kid Zone, Westwood Lutheran Church Early Childhood Center
Best Learning/Tutoring Center
Groves Academy has been serving students with learning disabilities and attention disorders and their families for over 40 years and is a pioneer in its field. Says Steve Hall of the Groves Academy Leadership team, “Groves is the only organization of its kind in the state. We offer support for learners with learning disabilities, and use the right techniques for kids to be successful. Groves services include a learning center with access to diagnostic testing, tutoring, speech and language therapy, and assistive technology training. Groves also offers post-secondary coaching for people with learning disabilities who want to attend college or pursue a career.”
RUNNERS UP: Mathnasium, Academic Tutoring and Testing
Best Place for Kids’ Activities
St. Louis Park Recreation Center and Aquatic Park
An outdoor water park complete with an aqua obstacle course, two indoor ice arenas and a broad range of programs for kids from tots to teens make St. Louis Parks Recreation Center and Aquatic Park a favorite hang-out for St. Louis Park youth.
RUNNERS UP: Foss Swim School-St. Louis Park, Dance Unlimited
Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel
Pampered Pooch Playground
Pampered Pooch Playground owner Keith Miller loves St. Louis Park’s dogs and their humans, so it makes sense that St. Louis Park loves Pampered Pooch, and voted it as Best Doggy Daycare and Kennel for the second year in a row. “Our top priority is great customer service for our four-legged and two-legged clients,” says Miller. Special touches like doggy report cards, photos and anytime check-ins by text will reassure even the most doting pet owner that their dog is safe and having a great time. Pampered Pooch is grateful to St. Louis Park for its success, and gives back by donating to local causes and rescues.
RUNNERS UP: Petropawlis, Canine Club and Spa
Best Apparel Boutique
Appreciating great designer clothes for moms, readers voted Evereve Best Apparel Boutique for the second year running. Evereve “outfits and styles the modern mom,” says Carrie Wild, manager for Evereve’s St. Louis Park location. Jeans are an Evereve speciality. “We’re redefining the meaning of ‘mom jeans.’ A great pair of jeans will take you anywhere,” says Wild. “We offer one-to-one service to make mom look great from head to toe.”
RUNNERS UP: Primp, Opitz Outlet
Best Specialty Food Store
It seems like everyone in St. Louis Park loves Trader Joe’s and now, with their recently completed remodel, there’s only more to love: all new cash registers, a new cheese section and expanded produce, deli and to-go departments. Customers rave about fabulously inexpensive flowers, readily available and ever-changing ethnic foods, and excellent customer service. What’s more, the St. Louis Park store on Excelsior Boulevard—a good neighbor since 2006—was the first-ever Trader Joe’s in the Twin Cities, in Minnesota, and in the entire upper Midwest.
RUNNERS UP: Lunds & Byerlys, Honey and Rye Bakehouse
Best Gift Shop
Once again, you voted Mama’s Happy as Best Gift Shop. “Chock full of beautifully displayed handcrafted, upcycled, repurposed and altogether fabulous home goods and gifts created by an eclectic group of bargainistas and artists,” Mama’s Happy offers “something beautiful for the wall, corner or wardrobe that delights and satisfies.” Mama’s Happy also offers its own brand of Chalk Paint, along with Chalk Paint workshops to help you create your own transformations. Owner Amanda Ficek says, “I love being able to give local artists a space for their work. There’s so much talent in this community.” Ficek also especially enjoys hosting workshops, where groups of friends or family can join together to create their own “Little Happy.”
RUNNERS UP: Bean and Ro, Iverson’s Imports
Arts & Flowers
Readers’ choice for Best Florist, Arts & Flowers, has been providing St. Louis Park with premium flowers for close to 20 years. Owner Steven Ward and his talented team of designers create custom-designed arrangements that are “recognizable anywhere” for “life cycle events as well as for an everyday affordable luxury.” Arts & Flowers uses many Minnesota-grown flowers along with tropical selections. Check out their large variety of orchids, great for any occasion or just to make any day better.
RUNNERS UP: Bachman’s, Linsk
Best Fitness/Yoga Studio
Life Time Fitness
Life Time Fitness’ LifePower yoga offers basic and advanced classes, including Vinyasa and Warrior Sculpt, that are included with membership. Schedule flexibility has got to be one reason the Park loves LifePower yoga: classes begin at 6 a.m., continue through mid-afternoon most days of the week and until 9:30 p.m. some evenings. If you add a child to your Life Time membership, child care while you attend yoga classes is free.
RUNNERS UP: Haute Barre, Pure Barre - St. Louis Park
Best Dental Clinic
Park Dental-St. Louis Park
Park Dental has been serving the St. Louis Park area since 1982, and for the second year in a row, readers chose Park Dental as Best Dental Clinic. Says Dr. Ira Rabinowitz, “We focus on lifetime oral health, and offer expanded hours and a convenient location.” Have a busy schedule? Park Dental has early morning and evening appointments to suit your needs. Saturdays are reserved for children’s hygiene appointments, allowing your kids to be seen in a fun, relaxed setting. Park Dental offers preventative care, restorative services such as crowns and bridges, cosmetic procedures and advanced services including dental implants, endodontics and sleep apnea treatment.
RUNNERS UP: Metro Dentalcare – St. Louis Park, Tooth & Co. Pediatric Dentistry
Best Orthodontic Clinic
Family Orthodontics P.A.
St. Louis Park loves Family Orthodontics P.A., voting Dr. Angela Ross and her team Best Orthodontic Clinic for the fourth year running. “At Family Orthodontics, we provide friendly, upscale, and technically advanced orthodontic treatment for children, tweens, teens, and adults.” Dr. Ross’s enthusiasm for her profession shines through. “It is so rewarding to see the confidence bestowed in my patients when they see their new smile!” says Ross. Family Orthodontics goes the extra mile to keep you comfortable and relaxed. You can enjoy free video games, movies and Wi-Fi in the reception room; clinic chairs are equipped with TV with cable, a DVD player, and headphones.
RUNNERS UP: Orthodontic Care Specialists – St. Louis Park
Best Pediatric Clinic
Park Nicollet Clinic – St. Louis Park
From newborn to teens, family-centered Park Nicollet Clinic partners with parents to keep kids healthy and thriving. Their team of child-friendly specialists offer a family-centered approach to care.
RUNNERS UP: Pediatric Services, Partners in Pediatrics – Calhoun Clinic
Best Eye Clinic
Park Nicollet Clinic- St. Louis Park
Services include consultations and surgeries, eye examinations, eyeglass and contact lens options, glaucoma and cataract screenings, laser treatments, pediatric eye exams and surgery.
RUNNERS UP: Calhoun Vision, Whiting Clinic
Best Dermatology Clinic
Park Nicollet Clinic – St. Louis Park
Park Nicollet Dermatology Clinic in St. Louis Park earned this year’s top spot for dermatology services. The clinic evaluates and treats a complete range of conditions affecting skin, hair and nails. They provide general dermatology and specialized services, including Mohs surgery, a very precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer. Their stated goal is to provide compassionate and personalized patient-oriented care.
Best Chiropractic Clinic
West End Chiropractic and Wellness
West End Chiropractic and Wellness takes its place as readers’ favorite for the second year in a row. Patient-centered, the clinic treats a wide variety of conditions, including headaches, muscular and joint pain, sinus and allergy issues, and sports injuries. Chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy and spinal decompression are among the techniques they provide, as well as medical services like women’s health and medically managed weight loss. Their goal: getting people well and staying well for life.
RUNNERS UP: Boulevard Chiropractic Clinic, Lake Pointe Chiropractic & Wellness
LifeSpa at Life Time Fitness
LifeSpa at Life Time Fitness is this year’s choice for Best Medspa. LifeSpa offers laser services, medical aesthetics including medical peels and dermaplaning, and bioidentical hormone and testosterone replacement therapy. Also available are injectables like Botox to soften wrinkles, dermal fillers and other treatments to enhance beauty and vitality.
RUNNERS UP: Urban Retreat, Physician Skin Services
Darrin Miernicki (Salon Concepts)
Cutting and styling hair in St. Louis Park since 1991, Miernicki loves the community’s warmth and family atmosphere, and St. Louis Park loves Miernicki right back, voting him the best hairstylist and barber for the second year in a row. “I love working with all kinds of people who have all kinds of hair, especially short hair. I love the shaping—it’s like sculpture,” says Miernicki. Miernicki prides himself on listening closely and working with clients to create a great look that’s perfect for them.
RUNNERS UP: Sasha Zoghi (Revolution Salon), Saeid Homayouni (Revolution Salon)
Sasha Zoghi has an idea about why Revolution Salon has been voted Best Salon in St. Louis Park for 2017: “We are very trend-driven,” she says. “We like to tell our clients what’s happening, what’s new.” In September and February of every year, Zoghi does hair styling for designer Christian Siriano’s models at New York’s Fashion Week. “I also teach other stylists throughout the country, and this exposes me to what is going on.” And don’t worry if you’re afraid the newest trends don’t quite suit you. At Revolution Salon, they can take aspects of the latest styles and adapt them to you. “People in their 60s still want to be hot and fabulous,” she says.
RUNNERS UP: The Hair District, St. Louis Park; Phresh
Best Law Firm
Bloomgren Hanson Legal
Katie Hanson and Amanda Bloomgren, both graduates of University of St. Thomas Law School, started Bloomgren Hanson Legal in 2011 with the desire to be an accessible legal counsel resource for all, says Katie Hanson. “We’ll help or find someone who can.” While also Best of St. Louis Park winners in 2016, Hanson is quick to update the partners’ profile this year with the news that Amanda Bloomgren was named to the 2016 Rising Star list by Super Lawyers (a rating service of outstanding lawyers). The Rising Star distinction is conferred to fewer than 2.5% of lawyers in Minnesota and was given to Bloomgren in special recognition of her work and expertise in the field of family law. The partners’ well-organized and informative website features a resource list and blog categories including “Ask the Attorney,” where a recent question explored issues of probate. Potential clients are encouraged to questions, directly of Bloomgren and Hanson, in the Contact Us section of the website.
RUNNERS UP: Margolis Law Firm, Appelman Law Firm
Best Insurance Agent
Denise Aasen (State Farm)
When an insurance office is known for “kindness, compassion and high integrity,” how could agency owner and primary agent Denise Aasen be anything but our favorite insurance service salesperson? With her agency located in St. Louis Park for five years, and with 20 years in the financial services industry behind her, Aasen speaks with pride and gratitude about both her “super fantastic team” of fully licensed insurance agents and doing business in the Park. “I am so thankful to be here in St. Louis Park,” she says. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” She is joining the Rotary Club and is committed to “whatever I can do to give back.” Services at Aasen’s agency include auto, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, life insurance, and (through the State Farm bank) auto and home refinancing loans as well. “Our goal is to meet all clients and to find the best coverage for their individual needs,” says Aasen. “Our motto is, ‘We’re here to help life go right.’”
RUNNERS UP: Gregg Loffhagen (State Farm), Susan Haub (State Farm)
Simple Lines and Fine Design at Iverson’s Scandinavian Imports
Tom and Paula Iverson have been in the business of Scandinavian imports for 45 years—10 of those years right here in St. Louis Park’s Miracle Mile Shopping Center. “Drive up to the door of your favorite store” has been particularly beneficial for this destination shopping venue. What customers come for is evident even to a window shopper: bright colors, clean lines, fine design and quality that has long characterized Scandinavian-made clothing and décor. Best sellers, says Tom, include the Norwegian Oleana line of women’s apparel (including sweaters to die for; put one on your holiday wish list today), Swedish Ekelund linens and Danish Trollbeads jewelry. There’s a small section of children’s clothing, books and toys—simple, classic, and not to be missed, just like all the inventory at this lovely store we’re lucky to have in our backyard.
Japs-Olson, a good business neighbor
Driving west on Excelsior Boulevard, it’s hard not to notice the sprawling campus and the striking blue-striped façade of the Japs-Olson production facility. When the name of the company kept popping up—for example, in cooperation with the city for a bike path, and as a major sponsor of the Children First Champions Breakfast—I asked Japs-Olson vice president of sales and marketing Monica Murphy to fill me in on a few more facts about this good business neighbor (the third-largest employer in St. Louis Park, by the way, with 600 employees). Founded in 1907 by Barney Japs and Gus Olson, it’s a family-owned commercial printing company and a leader in the direct mail production industry, located in the Park since 1997. They believe in excellent customer service and are environmentally conscious as well, receiving a 2016 award of recycling excellence from partner Pioneer Industries.
Maggie’s Farm Theater’s Organic Outreach
One of my most vivid memories is a middle school English class in which we read Edward Albee’s American Dream aloud in assigned parts. I’d never heard of this being done elsewhere until I came across a script-reading series at the St. Louis Park public library. It’s one of many brainchildren of Brad and Rachel Richardson, co-founders and artistic and executive director, respectively, of Maggie’s Farm Theater. What’s most impressive about this dynamic, hard-working couple is their commitment to a dream of owning and operating their own theater, and to bringing theater (in as many formats as there are potential participants) to our community: script reading, mainstage plays, radio on stage, reader’s theater (adults who perform theatrical oral readings that make books come alive for local children). Says Rachel, “Just like a farm, this theater is a collaboration to produce sustenance”—in this case, sustenance for the arts, and for the heart
*Are you one of this year's winners? Find information on how to order a plaque and other materials HERE.