What makes this year’s Best of Lake Minnetonka readers’ choice survey the best yet is not only that we have more than 50 winners, but also how many lake-area residents showed up to vote online for their faves (more than ever before!). We know our communities love shopping, remodeling, eating and playing locally—we just never knew how much!
Food & Restaurants
From the allergy- or kid friendly to where to stop for the best happy hour or burger, our Best of 2014 winners in the Food category take the cake.
When ordering a pastry from Wuollet there is one thing you can be certain of: Everything is fresh and made from real ingredients with no preservatives. Well known for their decorated cakes, Wuollet offers a wide variety of pastries for a wide variety of sweet tooths. 795 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.8621.
Runners up: Great Harvest Bread Company, Patisserie Margo
Featuring a daily, made-from-scratch breakfast, Hazellewood Grill is definitely an enticing place to start your day. The menu includes popovers with maple butter, and a “Big Daddy” bloody Mary complete with all the fixins’. And in this case, all the fixins’ includes a bacon-wrapped slider. Breakfast is served. 5635 Manitou Road, Tonka Bay; 952.41.0066.
Runners up: Sunsets, Original Pancake House
Gold Nugget Tavern
Gold Nugget is the ultimate neighborhood spot. From hosting sports teams and parties of all kinds to offering 21 rotating tap beers with plenty of local options, Gold Nugget has something for everyone. Their Stadium Burger is a favorite—probably because it comes on a pretzel bun and topped with nacho cheese, two of the greatest ingredients known to man. 14401 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.935.3600.
Runners up: Maynard’s, Snuffy’s Malt Shop
Best Ethnic Food
Not all sushi places are created equal, and the staff at Sakana prides itself on creating something much bigger than “just a sushi place.” The chefs hail from New York, were classically trained around the world and are putting their unique skill set into creating new dishes you won’t find anywhere else. 683 Lake St. E., Wayzata; 952.476.7000.
Runners up: Sushi Fix, Yumi’s
Best Happy Hour
Blue Point Restaurant
Blue Point offers a seafood twist on happy-hour dining. Specializing in a rotating seafood menu flown in fresh from the coasts, Blue Point is the perfect after-work haunt for fish lovers of all kinds. Open since 1989 with many of the original staff still on deck, folks know what to expect from this lake-area favorite. 739 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.475.3636.
Runners up: Maynard’s, Spasso
Best Wine Selection
A nice Italian meal cries out for a glass (or bottle) of wine. Spasso has you covered with 22 white and 30 red wines by the glass, and 30 whites and 50 reds by the bottle. Did we mention they also have a liquor store where you can buy a bottle to bring to dinner sans corking fee? 17523 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.224.9555.
Runners up: Haskell’s, Gianni’s Steakhouse
Best Kid-friendly Restaurant
Snuffy's Malt Shop
Kids love burgers. Kids love malts. Kids love Snuffy’s. It’s the old-fashioned diner that keeps its menu simple and delicious. 17519 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.475.1850.
Runners up: Scotty B’s, Maynard’s
Best New Restaurant
“I was out on the boat with friends and one said to me, ‘Yumi’s is closing—someone should open a little taco place in there,’”says Lago Tacos owner Roger Burks. He did exactly that, and that “little taco place” in downtown Excelsior has been thriving since its opening in February 2013. 30 Water St., Excelsior; 952.300.8495.
Runners up: Dakota Junction, Sushi Fix
Best Outdoor Dining
Maynards is the staple of outdoor dining on Lake Minnetonka. It’s so popular that we all expect a wait time during prime dinner hours in the summer. Of course, that just means you grab a pre-dinner drink and soak up the nearly perfect lake view until your table is ready. 685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.1800.
Runners up: Lord Fletcher’s, Bayside Grille
Best Private-party Venue
With two outdoor bars and a beautiful view of the lake, Bayside Grille is perfect for a group gathering. Bayside is also connected to the Bayview Event Center, which offers wedding and other event facilities and yacht rentals. The Bayview family of entertainment has you covered, no matter what you need. 687 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior, 952.474.1113.
Runners up: Bayview Event Center, The Commons
Randy Will (Maynard's)
“What makes [Randy] so good is that he attracts all age groups. He is great with the younger crowd and good with the old timers too,” says Jack Stevens, general manager of Maynards. “He has a unique sense of humor and is able to keep things light and fun while providing great customer service.” 685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.1800.
Runners up: Josh, Blue Point; Allie, Jake O’Connor's
Best Pasta Dish
A classic Italian joint, Spasso has pasta dishes for everyone. According to manager Amanda Irrgang, the vegetarian lasagna is a favorite and great option for the gluten free and vegetarian crowd. The “pasta” is made of eggplant, zucchini, tomato and summer squash. Spasso also features all the classic pasta options for those who want some good old-fashioned carbs. 17523 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.224.9555.
Runners-up: Hazellewood Grill, Joey Nova’s
Best Place to Have Lunch:
Café Carlson (at The Carlson Towers)
A well-kept secret in the lake area, Café Carlson features from-scratch edibles. Because this lunch spot can’t advertise for the café, lest they run out of food for The Carlson Towers employees, few people know about this gem. Stop in for a made-to-order specialty dish or burger. 701 Carlson Parkway, Minnetonka; 763.212.1448.
Best Gluten-Free/Friendly Restaurant:
While most restaurants these days can tell customers which menu items are gluten free, it’s not every day that most of the menu falls under the gluten-free friendly category. That’s why we love Lago Tacos. The chefs cater to the gluten-intolerant with a gluten free menu, including substitutions that can be made to suit food allergies. Anyone staying off gluten can feel like a regular restaurant-goer at Lago Tacos. 30 Water St., Excelsior; 952.300.8495.
With some of the most beautiful homes in the state, the lake communities are brimming with great remodelers, builders and designers. We honor your favorites, the ones who help transform our houses
Shoreline Builders Design & Remodel
A boutique residential design and remodel firm, Shoreline Builders has three Best of Lake Minnetonka victories under its tool belt. “We listen to our customers’ dreams and visions for a space and then create stunning kitchens, baths, lower levels, additions and garages,” says Julie Johnsen, who owns Shoreline Builders with husband Mitch. With more than 14 years of design and building experience, the Johnsens work with very few subcontractors, resulting in better communication and attention to detail than larger firms. 339 Barry Ave. S., Wayzata; 763.506.0629.
Runners up: Stonewood LLC, Landschute
Best Home Retail & Furnishings
The Sitting Room
From antique window treatments to upholstery, artful accessories to unique lighting, The Sitting Room has an ever-changing variety of décor and an expert design staff with the ability to understand and deliver what you’re looking for, before you know what that is. “We have a really interesting mix of items,” says owner Kate Regan, who has been in the design and home furnishing industry for more than a decade. “We like to consider ourselves more of a boutique than a showroom,” she says. “A great shopping experience begins with inspiration.” 380 Second St.; Excelsior; 952.473.4440.
Runners up: Grace Hill, Que Sera
Best Interior Design
Martha O'Hara Interiors
Based in Minnetonka, but serving clients from coast to coast and around the world, Martha O’Hara and her team of designers create spaces designed to wow. From architectural and electrical plan consultation to full-out, no-holds-barred, over-the-top design, they’ve got it covered. 9950 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.908.3150
Runners up: Shirley Bolduc Interior Design, Marceau Interiors
Celebrating their fourth straight win in this category, Outdoor Excapes is their name—“creating luxury outdoor living” is their game. With a creative process designed to reflect each client’s personality and lifestyle, owner Hans Frees and his team can help not-so-green thumbs dream up and maintain their perfect yards. “We handle all aspects from design to building and project management so our clients can sit back and relax,” says Frees. Decks with hot tubs; masonry or new shrubs… yep, they do that. 2345 Daniels St., Long Lake; 952.926.6899.
Runners up: Gray Gardens Landscape, Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens
Best Garden Shop
Since 1947, Tonkadale has been providing gardening supplies, along with free coffee, water and popcorn. Bill and Shirley Maruska—owners since 1978—grew the business from a simple 18’x100’ structure, and this cornerstone of the community now offers Saturday classes on container gardening, fighting off garden pests and even pumpkin carving. The resident greenhouse cat, Tiger, will even help you select your perfect shade of geranium. 3739 Tonkawood Road, Minnetonka; 952.938.6480.
Runners-up: Otten Bros., Garden Patch
Health & Wellness
Let’s be honest: The lake area community is known for its love of fitness, health and wellness—and it shows! Congrats to the clinics, workout facilities and businesses who keep us in tip-top shape.
The Brost Clinic
One of the largest chiropractic clinics in the Midwest, the Brost Clinic features seven doctors and two locations in the Lake Minnetonka area with main offices in Wayzata and a smaller clinic in Medina. The doctors at Brost offer services beyond standard chiropractic care including acupuncture, massage therapy and non-surgical herniated disk compression. 1421 E. Wayzata Blvd., Suite 100, Wayzata; 952.473.9637.
Runners up: Doctors of Chiropractic, Knewtson
Best Dental Clinic
Wayzata Family Dentistry
Dr. David Fligge and Dr. Jim Larson provide expert care at Wayzata Family Dentistry. Dr. Fligge is a two-time Best Dentist award recipient, and this year he, Dr. Larson and the whole team at Wayzata Family Dentistry take home the Best of Lake Minnetonka prize for best practice. 101 Lake St. W., Wayzata; 952.475.2464.
Runners up: Holger Dental Group, Lake Minnetonka Dental
Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics
With offices in Minnetonka, Excelsior and Wayzata, the Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics team offers convenience for all lake area residents, utilizing the latest technology to take care of a wide range of orthodontic needs. 11601 Minnetonka Mills Road, Minnetonka; 952.938.1443.
Runners up: Basile Orthodontics, Kottemann Orthodontics
Best Pediatric Clinic
Wayzata Children's Clinic
Wayzata Children’s Clinic has been caring for newborns through adolescents for 43 years. It is independently owned by the full-time doctors, meaning they have more freedom to take all the necessary time to give each patient personal care, says clinic operations manager Patti Knapp. With multiple locations, the clinic has 13 pediatricians and 3 pediatric nurse practitioners in total. 14001 Ridgedale Drive, Suite 100, Minnetonka; 952.473.0211.
Runners up: South Lake Pediatrics, Park Nicollet
Best Yoga Class
For the second year in a row, CorePower Yoga is taking home top honors. Featuring a range of classes including hot power yoga and beginning power yoga, this studio is perfect for expert and beginner yogis alike. 13879 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka; 952.249.9642.
Runners up: Life Time Athletic Oakdale Village, Spirit of the Lake
Best Fitness Studio
Co-owner Paula Warford discovered barre classes while living in New York and fell in love. Unable to find a barre studio when she moved to the lake area, Warford founded The Barre with her sister, Rachel Tessalone, in 2011. “You can’t get to the good stuff in life without being a little uncomfortable,” Tessalone says. “We say your progress comes when your body wants to give up, but if you embrace the discomfort, that’s when change happens. I like to think that confidence extends into our clients’ daily lives and makes them say ‘yes I can’ to life’s challenges.” 539 Lake St. E., Wayzata; 952.473.0109.
Runners up: Balanced Barre, LifeTime Athletic Oakdale Village
Best Golf Course
Wayzata Country Club
Head golf professional Dick Walters calls the Wayzata Country Club “a great course for golfers of all ability levels.” With undulating greens and generous but picturesque fairways, the course offers a great combination of playability and beauty. 200 Wayzata Blvd. W., Wayzata; 952.473.8846.
Runners up: Woodhill Country Club, Burl Oaks Golf Club
Best Medspa/Rejuvenation Clinic
“We do treatments that aren’t just about looking good, but about becoming healthier,” says Fusion LifeSpa owner Donna Duffy. “While people come to our spa just for the day, the majority of our work is health, wellness and long-term goal oriented.” Utilizing organic products whenever possible, and offering traditional European and Asian treatments melded with modern techniques, Fusion LifeSpa offers an experience unlike any other. 18142 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven; 952.345.3335.
Runners up: The Marsh, Skin Therapease
Best Holistic Wellness:
The holistic clinic offers Chinese medicine, chiropractic care, applied kinesiology, supplement recommendations, acupuncture and more. We know more than one patient who has had digestion issues, migraines or diabetes cleared up with regular visits—all without medications. 18142 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven; 952.345.3335.
Looking for gifts, clothes, beer or jewelry? Look no further than local shops! With these popular spots in our communities, who needs the rest of the Twin Cities?
Best Children's Shop
My Little One
The mini-fashion experts at My Little One go above and beyond to make shopping smooth for busy moms and dads. “We make [customers] feel welcome, and take the time to hear their stories and share ours,” says owner Stacey Stein. “We help them find exactly what they’re looking for… and do just about anything they request when we can.” 370 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.4914.
Runners up: Creative Kidstuff, Meridian Boutique
Best Small-business Customer Service
Excelsior Brewing Company
You’ll be met with a smile—and a tall glass—at Excelsior Brewing Company. Stop by the taproom for a refreshing taste of the latest beer, or take a tour of the brewery for a behind-the-suds look. “It’s cliché,” says Ben Flattum, sales and marketing director, “but Excelsior is a solid community. Our taproom gives [people] a place to get together, and that’s what we try to foster. We love that all generations of people can come together here: You see grandparents, parents and kids, all coming back to Excelsior. We’re lucky to be here.” We’ll drink to that, since this is the second year in a row Excelsior Brew has won this category. 421 Third St., Excelsior; 952.474.7837.
Runners up: Art of Optiks, My Little One
Best Gift Shop
General Store of Minnetonka
Where’s the best place to find a unique gift in the lake area? The General Store, of course! In 2014, this perennial favorite celebrates 30 years in the community, but its offerings are as fresh as ever. “One of my favorite things is our clothing boutique,” says buyer Jenny Putnam, whose family runs the shop. “We also have an incredible selection of kitchen gadgets and some really unique home décor. People say, ‘I’ve never seen something quite like that!’” 14401 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; 952.935.7131.
Runners up: Capers, Blanc de Blanc
From engagement rings to watches to custom-designed heirlooms, Graham Jewelers does it all. “The community knows they can count on [us] for integrity and quality in products and services,” says owner Sonja Graham. This family-owned jewelry shop is certainly a lake-area favorite—and the love is mutual. “I love how the community embraces the people who live and work here,” says Graham. “It’s a beautiful getaway from the city and it’s a fun place to be.” 800 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.6931.
Runners up: Albers, Evergreene
What started in 2009 as an activewear shop morphed into the cutting edge boutique that Maha! is today. Kristi Fragola and Josi Wert, the brains behind the brand, cater to the needs of women in the western suburbs who are looking for a little big-city style. Maha! is a one-of-a-kind shop that's become a go-to stop for lake area fashionistas. 631. E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.873.7001.
Runners Up: Hot Mama, Meridian Boutique
Best New Shop
Look no further for the best fro-yo in town. Your favorite new shop, Yogurt Lab, makes all of its yogurt and toppings in-house for a truly fresh—and refreshing—treat. And the Yogurt Lab folks are happy to be in downtown Wayzata, says store lead Tom Earp. “I’ve heard a lot of locals say that we help bring some life to downtown during the summertime,” says Earp. “That’s gratifying to hear!” Stop by for some cheery customer service and delicious cup of yo. 701 E. Lake St., Suite 150, Wayzata; 952.300.8676.
Runners-up: Oil & Vinegar, Fleurish
Best Place for A Little Retail Therapy:
General Store of Minnetonka
With an enviable stock of local and cult brands like Minnetonka Moccasin and Vera Bradley, the General Store of Minnetonka (pictured at left)has anything you could think of (and more) when it comes to finding unique gifts for family, friends or yourself. 14401 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; 952.935.7131.
Art of Optiks
Searching for the perfect pair of specs can be a chore—but it’s perfectly delightful with the help of the pros at Art of Optiks. “Most of our frames are handmade or limited production,” says co-owner Stephanie Haupert. “We specialize in hard-to-fit faces, and we can design frames to fit anyone.” 747 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.404.2020.
Runners up: Brevier Optical, Excelsior Eye Care
Best Sporting Goods Shop
Sun and Slope Clothing Outfitters
“One of the things we find in the lake area is that people prefer to shop local,” says Sun and Slope owner Jim McWethy. “We really appreciate that about our customers. They’re very loyal.” This favorite sports shop has a huge range of fun gear—swing by and spend a few local dollars. 701 E. Lake St., Suite 175, Wayzata; 952.873.7282.
Runners up: Gear West, Dick’s Sporting Goods
Kids & Family
Family-centered communities like Lake Minnetonka need great options for businesses, activities and animals (pets are family, too!). We’re fortunate to have people and places we can trust to keep our families engaged, active and connected.
Best Community Event/Festival
James J. Hill Days
Just like in Wayzata, there is literally something for everyone at this festival on the lake, celebrating 40 years in 2014. Each year, thousands enjoy one of the last weekends of summer with live music, car shows, food trucks and even racing dachshunds.The fest is named after the “one and only James J. Hill—a.k.a ‘empire builder’—who established the historic depot train stop in Wayzata as the gateway between Lake Minnetonka and the booming Twin Cities,” says Brooke Beyer, director of events. Wayzata residents sure don’t mess around celebrating the man who helped build the town. This past year, the all-volunteer planning team added a fireworks show, two concert stages—one featuring country music sensations Big & Rich—and even a Ferris wheel to the lineup. 402 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.9595.
Runners up: Spirit of the Lakes, Apple Days
Best Kids' Birthday Party Spot
Big Thrill Factory
Open only one year, Big Thrill Factory is on the map as the go-to destination for kids’ parties. “From our enthusiastic party hosts, our 28” mega pizzas and our make-your-own-cupcake activities, our birthday events are one-of-a-kind. And that’s before you get to play on any of our multiple attractions!” says owner Barry Zelickson. By “attractions,” he means mini-golf, a black light ropes course, a giant slide and trampolines… to name a few. (Tip: They also do corporate events.) 17585 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; 952.698.7700.
Runners up: Pump it Up, Country Club Lanes
Best Music Lessons
When you stop by for a music lesson at Minnetonka Music, you can also browse tomes of Chopin, get a tune-up on that saxophone or record a demo. “Music is a great hobby, and it’s great for life,” says co-founder Bob Bushnell. “When someone comes in for lessons, we teach how to think and how to move, not just how to play music. I’ve had students ages 3 to 85, and I’ve never once had a person say they’ve regretted taking music lessons.” 250 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.3277.
Runners up: Mount Calvary, Threshold
St. David's Center
With a Reggio Emilia approach to learning, St. David’s philosophy leans on the environment, child-parent relationships and kids’ curiosity. A state-certified school, forest and creek on 10 acres, plus two age-specific playgrounds, are the perfect setting for each child to learn and explore alongside kids from across the learning spectrum. “We’re an inclusive preschool,” explains Susan Berdahl, associate director of community relations. “It’s a classroom situation where a child with special needs will have an aide, but other typically developing kids are in the same room. A child with a disability doesn’t seem ‘different’ to them.” 3395 Plymouth Road, Minnetonka; 952.939.0396.
Runners up: Wayzata Community Church, Mount Calvary Church
Best Summer Camp/Program
Day Camp Christmas Tree
When it comes to summer camp, the more fun that can be packed into a week, the better! Located on Dutch Lake near Mound, campers ages 4 to 14 can learn to water ski, ride a horse, steer a kayak or bait a hook at this home-not-so-far-away-from-home. Since it’s a YMCA program, Day Camp Christmas Tree also focuses on the Y’s core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. 6365 Game Farm Road E., Minnetonka; 952.582.8242.
Runners up: YMCA, Lake Minnetonka Sailing School
Best Weekly Event:
Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce Girls Night Out
Every Thursday evening, Girls Night Out in Excelsior brings small town charm in a big-town way. We love how many residents regularly participate and we love that it gives locals a reminder to frequent main street businesses. The fashion show is especially popular, drawing the likes of Minneapolis magazine editors and local celebs. Thursdays, 5–9 p.m., Downtown Excelsior.
Best High School Teacher
Chris Pears, Minnetonka High School
He won’t admit it, but this guy is a great teacher. Bringing 16 years in the business world and extensive travel experience into the classroom with him each day, Pears says the part he loves most about teaching is “seeing the creativity and desire to learn that is so evident in the students.” Currently director of Minnetonka’s VANTAGE program, a professional experience for high school juniors and seniors, Pears also helped start Minnetonka High School’s international studies program, allowing students to participate in cross-cultural learning exchanges. 18301 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; 952.401.5854
Runners up: Matt Moran, Minnetonka High School; Paula Holmberg, Minnetonka High School
Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel/Boarding
Top Dog Country Club
Caution: Fido might not want to come home from this “un-kennel.” In fact, with 42 acres and 6,100 square feet of play areas, nature trails and a heated swimming pool, you might want to check in for a few nights, too. Trained staff will serve up fresh baked dog biscuits during “Yappy Hour” and even read bedtime stories—maybe Clifford the Big Red Dog?—while you’re away. They’ll dote on your dog for a single session of doggy daycare or take him/her for weeks at a time. Owner Jean Beuning says at Top Dog, “it’s all about the dogs!” 5120 Vega Ave., Hollywood Township, New Germany; 952.353.2600.
Runners up: Adogo Pet Hotel, Augusta
Best Pet Grooming/Services
Adogo Pet Hotel
If you think blueberry facials and pedicures with raspberry sparkle nail polish sound like pampering for people, think again. Adogo will take care of a simple nail trim or bath for your furry best friend, but they will also go above and beyond to deliver a whole dog-gone spa experience. “I came from the ‘human hotel’ business,” says owner John Sturgess. “I started this business because I wanted to create a place my two golden retrievers—Frankie and Sammy—would love to go.” 6133 Baker Road, Minnetonka; 952.933.5200.
Runners up: Glamour Pets, Bone Adventure
Best Veterinary Services
Westonka Animal Hospital
A trip to the vet can be a traumatic experience, but the folks at Westonka Animal Hospital go out of their way to make sure it’s as positive as possible for each four-legged pal. “We offer happy visits, separate dog and cat areas and lots of treats in the exam room along with a calm reassuring approach to the exam,” says Amy Nelson, practice manager. They were also the first in the area to offer laser surgery, which is less invasive than its traditional counterpart. 2125 Commerce Blvd., Mound; 952.472.4900.
Runners up: Village Animal Hospital, Excelsior Animal Hospital
Best Class/Program for Seniors
The Gillespie Center
Come for lunch, and stay for Wii bowling! The Gillespie Center is perched near gorgeous wetlands, and offers a full calendar of social activities designed to keep seniors active and engaged members of the community. 2590 Commerce Blvd., Mound; 952.472.6501.
Runners-up: The Marsh, Minnetonka City Center
Personal and Professional Services
What defines a community is its people—and the lake area has some incredible ones. From those who take care of our hair to those who help us plan for our future, your picks for best service providers keep our cities thriving.
Best Financial Advisor
Robert Bjork is co-founder and managing partner of Birch Cove Group, a certified financial planner and a registered principal of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. All that to say: Bjork knows his way around estate and financial planning. 800 Nicollet Mall, Suite 2500, Minneapolis; 612.315.2400.
Runners up: Mark Cheeley, Rebecca Hopf
William Anderson, Salon Lili
It wasn’t until William Anderson was in college that he “had an epiphany” and switched career paths to become a hairdresser. His client following is evidence of his love of people and knack for the art of a great hairstyle. “I am a colorist who works tirelessly toward excellence while making people feel comfortable and at home,” he says. “I work on listening to guests and their needs and help them to make educated decisions about their look in all areas of beauty.” 5757 Sanibel Drive, Suite 1, Minnetonka; 952.935.5000.
Runners up: Ashlee Olsen, Bella on the Bay; Tricia Piazza, Sarinske in Deephaven
Best Insurance Agent
Chad Babcock, State Farm
Chad Babcock is our community’s favorite insurance agent, helping lake-area families manage risks and plan for the future. And we’ll take his advice any day—Babcock is the hard-working president of the Excelsior–Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce and is tuned in to the goings-on in our neck of the woods. “I am very fortunate to have my business located in this area,” he says. “I love the community and I think that shows through with every interaction that I have with people.” 373 George St., Excelsior; 952.474.1454.
Runners up: Janet Symons, State Farm; Jim Harper, Allstate
Best Real Estate Agent
The daughter of an architect and a real estate sales agent, Maddrey has been interested in selling homes since before computers, when she’d have to lug MLS listings to school “in a giant phone book.” Now she’s got technology on her side and can find a range of properties that match a client’s ideal neighborhood, interests and price range. For Maddrey, it’s not about selling the most homes, but about devoting time and attention to each client’s needs. 15550 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.738.1331.
Runners up: Gregg Larsen, Joel Hentges
Best Massage Therapist
Jen Steinkamp, Bella on the Bay
For those days when you want to check out of “real life” for a few hours, Bella on the Bay offers a complete line of aromatherapy, hot stone and tailored massage options. And one therapist is so popular, people ask for her by name. “Jen has a huge following,” says manager Kim Richard. “She can read your body and knows exactly what to deliver. She’s incredibly client-focused.” 474 Second St., Excelsior; 952.474.5005.
Runners up: Katrina, Fusion Life Spa; Char Aune, Avalon Chiropractic
For a trim or a brand-new ‘do, Juut SalonSpa is your go-to spot. “I’ve worked here for nine years, and there’s no place I’d rather be,” says master stylist Melissa Ecker. “We strive toward not just looking nice, but being well, healthy and happy. You can tell that the people who work here are happy.” 1125 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.404.9955.
Runners up: Bella on the Bay, Salon Lili
Bellasaluti—Italian slang for “beautiful hello” or “beautiful smile”—is a business born out of creativity and friendship. Owners Christina McCormick and Natalie Finazzo merged separate photography businesses in 2012 and they’re first-time Best of Lake Minnetonka winners this year! From pregnant bellies to high school grads, modeling shots to portraits of the grandkids, they capture it all. “We love being a part of the community and documenting the lives of so many of the families that live here,” say the Bellasaluti girls. 5619 Manitou Road, Tonka Bay; 612.568.2352.
Runners up: Shari Fleming, Rebecca Hicks Photography
In its 90th year, Hammer Residences serves multiple communities in the lake area. Its dedication to providing innovative services for people with disabilities is inspiring and we consistently see the impact it has on our cities and our community members. 1909 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.473.1261.
Congratulations to all of our finalists and winners, and thanks to all who voted!