2013 Best of the Southwest Metro Winners

Meet the winners for 2013

Best Pizza: Detello’s Pizza & Pasta
They’ve been making the slightly sweet tomato sauce at Detello’s Pizza & Pasta from the same recipe for the past 26 years, and it’s the key to what makes the pizza so special, says Charlie McNellis, Eden Prairie manager. Workers at the shops—there’s the old stand-by in Eden Prairie (6207 Dell Rd.; 952.934.0333; detellospizza.us) and a new spot in Chaska (2914 Chestnut St.; 952.856.2082)—also prepare all of the ingredients in store, from shredding the cheese to slicing the vegetables and meats. Looking for a perfect slice? Try the House Special—topped with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives. —Liz Potasek Runners-up: Punch Neapolitan Pizza, Gina Maria’s Pizza  

Best Caterer: Famous Dave’s
If you’re planning a last-minute party for less than 25 people, Famous Dave’s (590 Prairie Center Dr, Eden Prairie.; 952.941.5849; famousdaves.com/eden-prairie) can deliver with only 3 hours notice—and they’ll bring all of the plates and utensils and even help set-up and organize the food, says manager Katy Lisk. With a little more notice, the restaurant can help out with any size party. “We want our clients to know they can count on us,” Lisk says. “That’s really important.” A popular catering option is the Piglet ‘N More, which includes a sandwich, chicken or spareribs, corn bread and two sides for $10.49 per person. —LP Runners-up: Byerly’s Chanhassen, Green Olive Catering  

Best Private-Party Venue: Wildfire
With the ability to create a memorable evening for parties from 12-70 guests, it’s no surprise that Wildfire (Eden Prairie Center, Eden Prairie; 952.914.9100; wildfirerestaurant.com/eden-prairie) is a go-to venue for events ranging from groom’s dinners to business meetings. A dedicated special events manager oversees all of the details of each party, making sure everything from the floor plan to the menu is perfect. Rooms can come equipped with screens and televisions for special presentations, says Debbie Patnode, parties and special events manager. The restaurant’s private rooms were recently updated, reflecting the restaurant’s 1940s-inspired supper club theme. One of the most popular spaces is the Minnesota Vikings Room, which features team memorabilia from the 1970s to today. —LP Runners-up: Oakridge Hotel & Conference Center, Biaggi’s  

Best Bartender: Steve Shaughnessy, Houlihan’s
After 12 years behind the bar at Houlihan’s (530 Pond Promenade, Chanhassen; 952.974.3939; houlihans.com), Steve Shaughnessy has watched the drinking trends come and go, from Sex and the City-inspired Cosmos to mojitos, and he’s mixed up countless martinis, Long Island Iced Teas and, of course, Michelob Golden Draft Lights. But his favorite part of the job is playing amateur psychologist. “I always seem to get them to talk,” Shaughnessy says, which isn’t surprising given his laid-back, friendly demeanor. Shaughnessy says he’s especially enjoyed getting to know Houlihan regulars, noting that he gets invited to a lot of barbecues and graduation parties and joking that sometimes they don’t even expect him to work. If you swing by Houlihan’s this summer, ask Shaughnessy to whip up a Strawberry Basil Lemonade, made with gin, freshly-made lemonade, pureed strawberries and basil leaves. —LP Runners-up: Ollie, Rare Steak & Sushi; Tiffany, Floyd’s Bar  

Best Place for a Date Night: Redstone
“It’s really a romantic atmosphere,” says  manager Rena Jarvis, explaining why Redstone (8000 Eden Rd., Eden Prairie; 952.903.9500; redstonegrill.com) is perfect for a date night. Whether you’re looking for an intimate evening in the restaurant or a more lively experience at the bar or on the patio, Redstone offers plenty of date-friendly ambiance. Live music on Wednesdays, along with a DJ on Fridays and Saturdays, will fill in any gaps in conversation. —LP Runners-up: Wildfire, Houlihan’s  

Best Interior Designer: Embellishments Design Studio
Jane-Marie Bloomberg jokes that she’s a recovering accountant. The interior designer opened Embellishments Design Studio (612.251.6512; embellishmentsdesign.com) in May of 2002, after leaving corporate America to pursue her passion for design. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t use her accounting skills on a daily basis: With a keen eye for her clients’ budgets, Bloomberg is able to cultivate the perfect look for a home without breaking the bank. She describes her style as classic modern, explaining that she’s drawn to items with good bones and great lines with a twist that makes them current. “There’s room for good design, regardless of price point and budget,” she says. —LP Runners-up: Molly Gilbertson, M. Gilbertson Design; Chantal Devane, Devane Design  

Best Landscaper: The Mustard Seed
The past year has marked a homecoming of sorts for Mark Halla, owner of The Mustard Seed. He purchased his family business, Halla Nursery and Garden Center, last November, and this spring he opened another location of The Mustard Seed where Halla Nursery used to sit (10000 Great Plains Blvd., Chaska; 952.361.9954; themustardseedinc.com). The garden shop and landscaping center is still open in it’s original location (6055 Hwy. 12, Chaska). And it still offers the same beautiful landscaping services, providing customers with design options, installation and even perennial garden maintenance. As the company continues to grow into its new spaces, its services may expand, too. —LP Runners-up: Bachman’s, Southview Design  

Best Builder/Remodeler: Mackmiller Design+Build
The husband and wife team, Mark and Mary Mackmiller, behind Mackmiller Design+Build (15694 Village Woods Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.949.8600; mackmiller.com) excel at making spaces that are not only beautiful, but liveable—a perfect marriage of form and function. “Both Mark and I really love solving people’s living, spatial and design problems,” Mary says. The couple takes pride in creating designs that reflect their clients’ personal tastes, which means each of their projects has a unique feel. —LP Runners-up: CRE Construction, Iron River Construction  

Best Home Décor Shop: Romens
This family-run shop has been in business for over 30 years, and it recently streamlined its name and moved to a new location (7820 Terrey Pine Court, Eden Prairie; 952.975.3900; romensatthefind.com). Regular shoppers know they’ll find unusual treasures for their homes, including lamps, mirrors, accessories, tables and artwork, but what really sets this shop apart is the knowledge of its staff. Everyone who works at the shop has a background in interior design and regularly offers free in-shop consultations. “We special order all the time to put the right look together,” says co-owner Lynn Anderson. In need of more help? Romens also offers in-home interior design consultation for a fee. —LP Runners-up: HomeGoods, Prop Shop  

Best Toy Store: ABC Toy Zone
Packed to the gills with everything from trendy collectibles to educational, family-friendly games, it’s no surprise that adults and children alike are fans of ABC Toy Zone (820 W. 78th St., Chanhassen; 952.474.4366; abctoyzone.com). The locally-owned chain of stores does its best to carry local products, and it’s well-stocked with teacher-friendly materials, as well. —LP Runners-up: Smarty Pants Kids, Target  

Best Florist: Bachman’s
“How can you not love working with beautiful flowers,” says Cheri Paulson, a floral designer at Bachman’s for the past 12 years. Paulson, and the team of florists at Bachman’s in Eden Prairie (770 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.941.7700; bachmans.com), including Linda Quick, Tammy Marquardt-Pieper and Jenny Hindbjorgen, pride themselves on making unique bouquets to mark all of life’s big moments, from marriage proposals to funerals. “It’s nice to know what you’re doing is affecting people’s lives in a positive way,” Paulson says. —LP Runners-up: Victoria Rose Floral, Belladonna Florist  

Best Bike Shop: Erik’s Bike Shop
After pedaling, pumping, and pushing your bike across the Southwest Metro, Erik’s Bike Shop (16570 Main St., Eden Prairie; 952.934.7993; eriksbikeshop.com) is where you turn when it comes time to upgrade or repair. The level of expertise found there is “unmatched in the bicycle industry,” according to franchise owner Erik Saltvold. He explained that his staff focuses on the fit of the bicycle. “The staff is trained extensively to fit the rider to the bike,” he says. They also boast a huge inventory of product, and are pleased to announce a new bike line of the Italian brand Pinarello for 2013. —James McManis Runners-up: Bokoo Bikes and Paddle Sports, Freewheel Bike Shop  

Best Place for Unusual Gifts: Finding Joy Boutique
There’s always something new in stock at Finding Joy (7838 Market Blvd., Chanhassen; 612.250.7286: findingjoyboutique.com), a shop that’s supplied by more than 70 local artists. Shop owner Christie Larson says that the most popular gift items include granite cutting boards and serving trays fashioned from reclaimed materials and pottery serving pieces, including chip and dip platters. You’ll also find yard art, baby booties, dog leashes, jewelry, accessories and so much more at this inviting little shop. —LP Runners-up: Prop Shop, Romens  

Best Independent Place to Buy Jeans: Hot Mama
Shopping for a new pair of jeans is right up there with picking out a new swim suit, but finding the right fit is even more crucial considering that the perfect pair is a staple of any woman’s wardrobe. Feeling pressured and overwhelmed? Enter Hot Mama (11995 Singletree Lane, Eden Prairie; 952.426.0066; shopmama.com). The shop’s stylists are skilled at listening to their shoppers’ needs, sizing up their body types and helping them find a pair they feel great about, says store manager Erin Wills. Hot Mama carries about 10 different brands of premium denim in a variety of styles and price points, ranging from $79 to $198. “We have all sizes,” Wills says. “We want to get the perfect jeans on whatever body you have.” —LP Runners-up: Mainstream Boutique, The Hanger  

Best Small Business Customer Service: Curves Chanhassen
Melissa Olson bought the Chanhassen Curves (406 W. 78th St., Chanhassen; 952.937.7602; curves.com) on a whim when she was 23 years old, and in the past 4 years, she’s grown the club membership from 100 to 350. Even more impressively, Olson knows the names of every single one of her members, who range in age from 19 to 92. “I make sure I know who they are and make them feel welcome,” Olson says. “They’re not just money to me.” Olson says empathy is the key to her customer service. “It’s understanding where people are, and trying to work with them to figure out where they want to be,” she says. —LP Runners-up: The Parlour Salon & Spa, Givan’s Salon  

Best Salon/spa: The Parlour Salon & Spa
Tucked away on the second floor of a building in downtown Victoria, The Parlour Salon & Spa (7924 Victoria Dr. #206, Victoria; 952.679.4805; theparlourgirls.com) is a little oasis of pampering. “The service is ultimately what keeps people coming back,” says Michelle Lewin, co-owner of the salon. The full service salon offers everything from haircuts and styling to facials and massage to eye lash extensions. While the staff is incredibly talented and professional, the energy in the salon is laid-back and friendly with plenty of laughter floating through the air. —LP Runners-up: Spalon Montage, Givan’s Salon  

Best Photographer: VIP Gallery
The husband and wife team of Mark and Krish Kiefer have been capturing the images and stories of Minnesotans for more than 20 years. VIP Gallery (7985 Hwy. 5, Waconia; 952.442.5436; vip-gallery.net) operates out of a converted dairy farm in picturesque Waconia. Their 21-acre plot is landscaped for the perfect photo backdrop, and also serves as a big draw for clients. The Kiefers draw on their experience in posing and lighting to set them apart from the competition. “Photography is so subjective,” Krish says. “We just treat everyone how they want to be treated.” —JM Runners-up: Rita Vannett Photography, Taylor Hubbard Photography  

Best Real Estate Agent: Colleen Larson, Re/Max Results Eden Prairie
With more than 20 years of experience in both mortgages and real estate, Colleen Larson (952.829.3832; results.net/colleen.larson) has helped a lot of people buy and sell homes. “I love my job,” Larson says. “I really end up becoming friends with the people I work with.” Larson’s mother was a real estate agent, which piqued Larson’s interested in the field at a young age. She loves helping her clients every step of the way from beginning their search or staging their home to negotiating the deal and finally, bringing the transaction to a close. —LP Runners-up: Linda Margl, Edina Realty; Bloomberg Real Estate Services  

Best Place to Work: PROP Shop
“What’s fun about the PROP Shop is (that) we are a non-profit serving local families in need,” says operations manager Vicki Bomben. For six years this re-sale shop (15195 Martin Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.934.2323; propshopep.org) has been providing clothing, furniture, and other household goods to Eden Prairie families who need a little extra help. All of the profits go right back to the community; more than 350 volunteers are on board to help out and make a difference. A new 2,500 square foot addition is in the works to provide more space and privacy for the families, and more volunteer opportunities for these dedicated residents. —JM Runners-up: Primrose School of Eden Prairie and Chanhassen, Givan’s Salon  

Best Veterinarian: Chanhassen Veterinary Clinic
Our pets have a way of bringing joy to our lives and taking care of us. So when they get sick and need our care, they should be treated with the same love they give us. Chanhassen Veterinary Clinic (440 W. 79th St., Chanhassen; 952.934.8862; chanhassenvet.com) veterinarians Dennis Boileau, Deanne McCabe, Jodi Arndt and Deborah Newcomb make up the staff of dedicated animal doctors. A veterinarian for 32 years, Dr. Boileau says the most rewarding part of his job is “eliminating pain, and helping people take care of their pets.” What more could a pet owner ask for? —JM Runners-up: Victoria Veterinary Care, Anderson Lakes Animal Hospital  

Best Place to Pamper Your Pet: The Canine Club & Spa
The Canine Club & Spa (2910 82nd St., Chanhassen; 952.361.9663; thecanineclubandspa.com) offers the finest service for your furry companion. For 4 years the Canine Club has been providing the best in doggy daycare, boarding and grooming for pet owners in the southwest metro. “Our facility was built specifically with dogs in mind,” says manager McKayla Hatfield. “Dogs are like our babies.” Yet don’t let that discourage you from bringing in your cat as well. Their two-level cat condo is comfortably placed away from the doggie facility to discourage any sort of classic feline/canine antagonism. Your pet can play and relax, and you won’t have to worry about leaving them alone while you’re gone.  —JM Runners-up: Adogo Pet Hotel, Top Dog Country Club  

Best Place for Live Music: Floyd’s Bar
Floyd’s Bar (1758 Arboretum Blvd., Victoria; 952.443.9944; floydsbar.com) offers “a mix of music to feed all tastes,” says manager Karen Clark. In the summer, Floyd’s offers live music every night of the week on the patio, weather permitting, and throughout the year, regulars can count on live music in the bar on Fridays and Saturdays. Local musician Tom Bright is responsible for booking the bands, and on any given night music lovers might find anything from roots and bluegrass, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, country, reggae and even zydeco. —LP Runners-up: The School II, Santorini Taverna  

Best Yoga: CorePower
Yoga is an individual practice of the body and mind. Choosing a “best yoga studio” requires attention to the inner-self, and our readers decided that CorePower Yoga in Eden Prairie (7739 Flying Cloud Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.906.8918; corepoweryoga.com) has the right environment and instructors to calm the mind. When asked what makes CorePower different, manager and director of teacher training Amanda Ford says: “It’s our ability to really personally connect with all of our students.” CorePower is offering new teacher training opportunities for 2013, as well as their regular Vinyasa, Yoga Sculpt, and Hot Yoga classes. —JM Runners-up: Life Time Fitness, Yoga Bella  

Best Golf Course: Chaska Town Course
The Chaska Town Course (3000 Town Course Dr., Chaska; 952.443.3748; chaskatowncourse.com) offers lush oak groves, open prairie and marshlands over a sprawling 285 acres. Designed by golf course architect Arthur Hills, casual golfers and pros alike have been perfecting their games at the Town Course which also includes a popular driving range. PGA Head Golf Professional John Kellin says great customer service and course conditions set them apart from other Twin Cities courses. That is, of course, assuming you don’t slice one into the marsh. —JM Runners-up: Deer Run Golf Club, Bear Path Golf & Country Club  

Best Chiropractor: ABC Family Chiropractic
Becky Pauly opened ABC Family Chiropractic (1405 78th St., Victoria; 952.443.3710; abcfamilychiro.com) in May 2004 with the philosophy of treating all her patients like she would her family, and it’s served her practice well. “We want people to feel like they’re taken care of, like they’re our family,” Pauly says. The practice offers nutrition counseling, massage, pain management, weight loss coaching and on-site corporate wellness programs. —LP Runners-up: Floro Chiropractic, Live Well Chiropractic Spa & Wellness Center  

Best Dentist: Judson Heitner “Dr. Judd,” Prairie Dental Group
The Prairie Dental Group (6608 Flying Cloud Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.903.5000; prairiedental.com) has a staff of more than 30 members that has been encouraging patients to brush twice a day for more than 35 years, and our readers’ voted for Judson Heitner “Dr. Judd” as their favorite dentist.  In addition to maintaining molars, Prairie Dental holds fun events each year, like an annual Halloween candy buy-back. Kids can fight cavities and sugar overload by bringing in their leftover candy, and selling it to the dental staff. Runners-up: Chanhassen Dental, Brad Dodds  

Best Pediatrician: Southdale Pediatrics
“We have great quality doctors and providers,” says Dr. Vicki Oster, a doctor with Southdale Pediatrics in Eden Prairie (18315 Cascade Dr. #170, Eden Prairie; southdalepeds.com). Parents can also appreciate that the practice, which has had an Eden Prairie location since 1992, has extended hours on Monday evenings and Saturday mornings for those times when illness strikes inconveniently. The practice also has a lactation consultant on staff, as well as an allergy department, which sees both children and adults. —LP Runners-up: All About Children Pediatrics, South Lake Pediatrics   

Best High School Teacher: Steve Cwodzinski, Eden Prairie High School
It’s hard to fall asleep in Steve Cwodzinski’s class: There’s plenty of yelling, perhaps some foot stomping and lots of impassioned speeches. Upon entering the Eden Prairie High School government and history teacher’s classroom—or “marketplace of ideas,” as he’s labeled it—students will quickly learn they won’t be expected to simply memorize facts and dates, they’ll be encouraged to engage with the class and their community. Over the course of his career, Cwodzinski has met two presidents (George W. Bush and Bill Clinton), taken students on trips to Israel, Poland and Washington D.C. and inspired hundreds of students. “I’ve never regretted a Monday or looked forward to a Friday,” Cwodzinski says. “Twenty-eight years, and I loved every minute of it.” —LP Runners-up: Sarah Gilbertson, Chanhassen High School; Kjersten Welter, Eden Prairie High School  

Best Preschool: Primrose School of Eden Prairie and Chanhassen
The importance of getting a great education begins early. A great learning environment at the preschool level can jumpstart your child’s creativity and desire to learn at an early age, and will help them achieve in school. Tara Arguijo, director of schools for the Primrose School, explains that Primrose School of Eden Prairie and Chanhassen (7800 Eden Prairie Rd., Eden Prairie; 952.944.6025; 8950 Crossroads Blvd., Chanhassen; 952.934.2590; primroseschools.com) offers the best early educational experience for your child. “The curriculum, teachers with four year degrees, and healthy fresh food,” according to Arguijo, are just some of the things that set Primrose School a little ahead of the curve. —JM Runners-up: Goddard School, Especially for Children  

Best Community Festival: Chanhassen 4th of July
There are summer festivals, and then there’s the Fourth of July in Chanhassen (7700 Market Blvd., Chanhassen; ci.chanhassen.mn.us). No other holiday or event can compare to the spectacle of explosions in the sky and the best birthday party around. The Chanhassen 4th of July celebration is celebrating its 30th year of honoring the formation of our nation. “It’s small town living at its finest,” says recreation supervisor Mitch Johnson. What started as a simple celebration at Lake Ann has grown into a three-day festival that attracts up to 8,000 people per day. Expect live music, a carnival, a parade and much more—this event gets bigger every year. Join in the fun starting July 2. —JM Runners-up: Victoria’s Volksfest, Waconia’s Nickle Dickle Day  Best Kid-friendly Restaurant: Applebee’s   Runners-up: Perkins, Tommy’s Malt Shop  

Best Beach: Lake Ann, Chanhassen   Runners-up: Lake Riley, Eden Prairie; Bryant Lake Regional Park, Eden Prairie  
Best Playground: Miller Park, Eden Prairie   Runners-up: Staring Lake, Eden Prairie; Hyland Play Area, Bloomington  
Best Neighborhood: Bearpath, Eden Prairie   Runners-up: Wynnfield, Eden Prairie; Springfield, Chanhassen  
Best Place for People Watching: Eden Prairie Center   Runners-up: Redstone, Floyd’s Bar