The 2015 Best of Lake Minnetonka Reader’s Choice Awards

by | Jul 2015

Best of Lake Minnetonka 2015
We’ve brought together the top businesses, people and places in the lake area.

It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate everything the Lake Minnetonka community has to offer. Then again, this is an area worth celebrating year round, and that’s a theme you’ll see from all the finalists.

The lake community is special because it’s so close-knit. If we had included every quote we received from folks talking about how special the lake area is, and how much they love celebrating their community… well, we could have filled this issue with those thoughts alone.

These awards not only celebrate the winners in this year’s voting, but they also honor everything the Lake Minnetonka region symbolizes. We know how much appreciation and gratitude lake-area residents have for their hometowns—we saw it in a record number of ballots cast! You stepped up to showcase the highlights of the lake and beyond.

So, let’s all pop a bottle of Champagne and raise our glasses to the winners and nominees in our 2015 Best of Lake Minnetonka readers’ choice survey—but let’s not stop there! Let’s raise those glasses to everyone in the community, from Excelsior to Wayzata, Mound to Minnetrista, Minnetonka to Shorewood. To friends, neighbors and those who come to visit from outside the area. It’s not just the nominees and winners that make our community great; it’s everyone.

These awards are all for you, people of Lake Minnetonka. Because without you, none of this would be possible.

Randy Will of Maynard’s wins Best Bartender for the second year in a row. Photo by Emily J. Davis

Randy Will of Maynard’s wins Best Bartender for the second year in a row. Photo by Emily J. Davis

Food & Restaurants

From new faces to old favorites, the restaurant scene is booming in the lake community. Raise a glass, grab a bite with the kids or share a snack at your favorite bakery because these are the best food options around.

Best Bartender
Randy Will, Maynard’s
Taking home the award for the second year in a row, Randy Will at Maynard’s really has the magic touch. Young and old, he knows how to connect with bar-goers. No matter what kind of drink you’re looking for, Will knows how to pour it. And more importantly, he knows how to make you feel welcome. 685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.1800.
Runners up: Damon Baudhuin (McCormick’s Pub and Restaurant), Nick Boom (formerly of Coalition)

Best Bakery
Wuollet Bakery
Lake residents are lucky to have this Twin Cities institution around. Its history dates back to 1944 and although a lot has changed since then, one thing hasn’t: Everything on the menu is made from scratch. It’s also been family owned since the day it opened, so you can feel even better about satisfying your sweet tooth. 795 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.8621.
Runners up: Patisserie Margo, Yo Yo Donuts & Coffee Bar

Best Burger
The Suburban
The new kids on the burger block, The Suburban takes home the coveted prize in its very first year. “We feel like we really set ourselves apart by specializing in sourcing everything locally,” owner Cindy Berset says. The restaurant sources its beef from Peterson Farms out of Wisconsin and there’s an impressive list of specialty burgers and nearly limitless topping combinations to satisfy anyone. 342 Third St., Excelsior; 952.283.1663.
Runners up: Maynard’s, Gold Nugget Tavern and Grill

Best Tavern/Bar
Jake O’Connor’s Public House
It should come as no surprise that the local pub claims the top spot in the bar category. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more authentic Irish feel in the lake area (or anywhere else, for that matter). 200 Water St., Excelsior; 952.908.9650.
Runners up: McCormick’s Pub and Restaurant, The Narrows Saloon

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant
Wayzata Bar & Grill
“Kids are part of the family, and we want to make them feel welcome,” says Wayzata Bar & Grill manager Greg Nicklow. Along with bar fare for the older crowd, kids are treated to a menu of favorites such as burgers, hot dogs and pasta. 747 Mill St., Wayzata; 952.473.5286.
Runners up: Snuffy’s Malt Shop, Joey Nova’s

Best Patio Dining
When you think of patio dining on Lake Minnetonka, you probably think of Maynard’s. On a warm summer night, where else would you want to grab a bite or a drink? 685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.1800.
Runners up: Cōv, Lord Fletcher’s

Cōv gets the coveted Best New Restaurant award in a year filled with many newcomers.

Cōv gets the coveted Best New Restaurant award in a year filled with many newcomers.


Best New Restaurant
With the influx of new restaurants in the lake area, this may be the most hotly contested category of the year. Wayzata’s Cōv was able to stave off the challengers to take the top spot. Located right on Lake Minnetonka, Cōv offers fine-dining ambience while staying true to the nautical roots of Lake Minnetonka. 700 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.5253.
Runners up: Coalition, 6Smith

Best Date Night Spot
Even as one of the newer restaurants in Excelsior, Coalition has quickly cemented its reputation as the perfect place to take your lady or fella. Co-owners Deacon Eells and Eli Wollenzien (also executive chef) both come from small towns, which makes Excelsior feel like home to them. They also strive for a farm-to-table philosophy by sourcing as much as they can locally. 227 Water St., Excelsior; 952.283.1952.
Runners up: Gianni’s Steakhouse, Cōv

Best Place for Craft Beer on Tap
Excelsior Brewing Co.
It’s the category that was made for Excelsior Brewing Co. Sure, you can grab the brewery’s beers on tap all over the lake area, but why not go straight to the source? The taproom has always been a great spot to grab a beer, and with its new remodel, it’s only gotten better. 421 Third St., Excelsior; 952.474.7837.
Runners up: McCormick’s Pub and Restaurant, Jake O’Connor’s Public House

Best Dessert Spot
Licks Unlimited
This one pretty much speaks for itself. We’re talking about an Excelsior institution here, people! A summer day in Excelsior isn’t complete without a stop at Licks. 31 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.4791.
Runners up: Hazellewood Grill, Adele’s Frozen Custard

Need a home refresh? Call Kate Regan, winner of Best Interior Designer yet again! Photo by Emily J. Davis

Need a home refresh? Call Kate Regan, winner of Best Interior Designer yet again! Photo by Emily J. Davis


If there’s one category that really represents pride in celebrating the lake, it’s the folks working on your home. Whether it’s a new interior design or a beautiful backyard patio, there are few things that say, “I’m a Lake Minnetonka resident,” better than your own house.

Best Interior Designer
Kate Regan, The Sitting Room
Regan takes as much pride in working in the lake community as she does in her work itself. “I live in the community, so I feel a real connection,” she says. She opened The Sitting Room in 2003 and her work has been showcased in national magazines and on HGTV (not to mention in countless homes around the lake). 380 Second St., Excelsior; 952.473.4440.
Runners up: Lora Marceau (Marceau Interiors), Traci Dokken (Traci Dokken Designs)

Best Builder/Remodeler
Arbor Haus
“It’s nice to help out neighbors and friends,” says Nate Stangler, owner of Arbor Haus. “We take pride in helping build up the Lake Minnetonka area and it’s just nice to work with the folks you run into at the grocery store.” The staff at Arbor Haus boasts the skills to design, build and remodel, and although Stangler just moved to the lake area four years ago, he said it definitely feels like home. 540 Lake St., Ste. 2, Excelsior; 952.917.9130.
Runners up: The Landschute Group, Shoreline Builders

Best Home Retail/Furnishings
The Sitting Room
Founded by Kate Regan, The Sitting Room is all about interior design. Regan opened her retail store with the philosophy of having “a design firm with a showroom.” Whether you want help with a full-home makeover or are just looking for a new piece to pull a room together, Regan and her staff can help you out. 380 2nd St., Excelsior; 952.473.4440.
Runners up: Que Sera, Scusi!

An elegant patio by Outdoor Excapes. Photo courtesy of Outdoor Excapes

An elegant patio by Outdoor Excapes. Photo courtesy of Outdoor Excapes

Best Landscape Designer/Architect
Outdoor Excapes
Led by owner Hans Frees, Outdoor Excapes has built its client base almost solely by word of mouth. In fact, 97 percent of its business can be directly linked to referrals from past clients. Frees takes pride in this fact because his specialty is creating backyard spaces for people to get together and have a good time. If his clients are throwing great barbecues, it means Frees and his staff have done their job. 2345 Daniels St., Long Lake; 952.926.6899.
Runners up: Gray Gardens, Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens

Best Heating/AC Company
Tonka Plumbing Heating and Cooling
Whether it’s heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer, the last thing you want to worry about is the temperature of your home. The team at Tonka Plumbing Heating and Cooling works hard to keep your home feeling comfortable. 265 Co. Road 110 N., Mound; 952.472.9200.
Runners up: Kleve & JC Mechanical, Pronto Heating & AC

Best Yard Service
C & C Lawns Inc.
Both Joe Uran and Chris Pass, co-owners of C & C Lawns Inc., grew up in the Lake Minnetonka area. They graduated from Minnetonka High School and now serve the region working on lawns. Not only that, but they’re both volunteer firefighters. Although their office is located in Hopkins, they spend the majority of their time working on homes around the lake. 1201 S. 6th St., Hopkins; 612.366.2741.
Runners up: Larson Lawnscape, Superior Lawn and Landscape

The barre in Wayzata keeps the lake area in shape with unique fitness classes and caring instructors. Photo coutesy of the barre studio

The barre in Wayzata keeps the lake area in shape with unique fitness classes and caring instructors. Photo coutesy of the barre studio

Health & Wellness

Living by the lake not only gives us the motivation to stay in shape, but it also gives us plenty of outdoor activities to sample. When that’s not enough, and you need a little extra motivation, or are feeling a little under the weather, our winners in the best of health and wellness can help you out.

Best Fitness/ Yoga Studio
The barre studio
Barre has become all the rage inside the lake community and out. Sisters Paula Warford and Rachel Tessalone founded the barre studio in 2011 to capitalize on the popularity. “We knew we loved what barre does for us mentally and physically, but we could not anticipate the community of positive, inspiring people our studio would bring into our lives,” Warford says. “It’s become more than just a place to get stronger. It’s a community of people who respect and care about one another.” 539 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.0109.
Runners up: Life Time Athletic and LifeSpa, CorePower Yoga

Best Chiropractic Clinic
Knewtson Health Group
Husband-and-wife duo Dr. Troy and Dr. Kelly Knewtson own the Knewtson Health Group. Both are chiropractors, but their clinic also offers personal training, massage therapy, physical therapy and nutrition help. 23505 County Road 19, Excelsior; 952.470.8555.
Runners up: The Brost Clinic, Marty Chiropractic & Nutrition

Best Dental Clinic
Excelsior Family Dental
What gets people to keep coming back to Excelsior Family Dental? “We laugh with them,” Lynda Cranbrook says. “We get to know our patients and become friends with them.” Cranbrook is the clinic’s financial coordinator and has been working there for 30 years. There are three doctors on staff—Dr. Norm Scott, Dr. Gary Christensen and Dr. Laura Collier—keeping the smiles looking good for those laughs. 348 Second St., Ste. 200, Excelsior; 952.474.6515.
Runners up: West Lakes Dentistry, Wayzata Family Dentistry

Best Orthodontic Clinic

Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics
Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics has every corner of the lake covered with offices in Minnetonka, Excelsior and Wayzata. The doctors have more than 50 years of experience. Your kids can even play video games in the waiting room. 11601 Minnetonka Mills Road, Minnetonka; 952.938.1443.
Runners up: Kotteman Orthodontics, Reese Orthodontics

The beautiful and relaxing grounds of Lake Minnetonka Shores, winner for Best Senior Living Residence. Photo courtesy of Lake Minnetonka Shores

The beautiful and relaxing grounds of Lake Minnetonka Shores, winner for Best Senior Living Residence. Photo courtesy of Lake Minnetonka Shores

Best Senior Living Residence
Lake Minnetonka Shores
Lake Minnetonka Shores offers all the care options you’d expect from a retirement home, including apartments, assisted living and memory care, but its location really sets it apart. Situated right on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, you’ll have a hard time finding more beautiful grounds at any retirement home. 4515 Shoreline Drive, Spring Park; 952.471.4000.
Runners up: Sunrise Senior Living, Folkestone

Best Pediatric Clinic
Wayzata Children’s Clinic
With four locations in or near the Lake Minnetonka community, Wayzata Children’s Clinic is close by, with 14 pediatric doctors to choose from. 14001 Ridgedale Drive, Suite 100, Minnetonka; 952.473.0211.
Runners up: South Lake Pediatrics, Park Nicollet Clinic

Best Medspa/ Rejuvenation Clinic
Fusion LifeSpa
Fusion LifeSpa offers full-body therapy, meaning you can cleanse your mind, body and soul all at the same time. With both traditional and non-traditional services, the staff is happy to cure whatever ails you. Not only that, but owner Donna Duffy has worked in the lake community for more than 30 years, so you know you’re getting experienced, local treatment. 18142 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven; 952.345.3335.
Runners up: The Marsh, LifeSpa at Life Time

Best Eye Clinic
Northwest Eye Clinic
Northwest Eye Clinic has offices all over the metro, and we’re lucky enough to have spots in both Minnetonka and Wayzata. The clinics offer all types of eye care, from simple check-ups to specialized treatments. 250 Central Ave. N., Suites 105 & 107, Wayzata; 763.416.7600; 6060 Clearwater Drive, Suite 150, Minnetonka; 763.416.7600.
Runners up: Excelsior Eye Care, Art of Optiks

Best Dermatology Clinic
Metropolitan Dermatology
Boasting seven physicians with specialties ranging from general dermatology to cosmetic procedures, Metropolitan Dermatology offers comprehensive care. The staff includes three Mohs fellowship trained physicians, which means they offer a skin cancer treatment technique used by approximately 1,200 doctors around the country. 1120 E. Wayzata Blvd., Ste. 100, Wayzata; 952.476.673.
Runners up: Skin Care Doctors, P.A., Dermatology Specialists

Ooh La La has been an Excelsior mainstay for years and is the winner in the Best Boutique category. Photo by Emily J. Davis

Ooh La La has been an Excelsior mainstay for years and is the winner in the Best Boutique category. Photo by Emily J. Davis


What’s the best way to celebrate your community on a daily basis? By shopping local, of course. Our list of best retail spots makes that task an easy one.

Best Boutique
Ooh La La
Featuring a wide range of styles for young and older women, it’s hard not to find something at Ooh La La. They have a great selection of local goods, including blinged-out options for lake-area schools. Whether you’re looking for a simple sweater, or want to try something a little bolder, they offer fashionable options for everyone. 274 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.1743.
Runners up: Meridian Boutique, Primp

Best Small-business Customer Service
Brightwater Clothing and Gear
There are some places where you just know you’re going to be treated well when you walk in the door, and Brightwater Clothing and Gear is one of those places. No matter what you’re looking for, Bill Damberg and his staff can help you out. They stock some of the best local goods around and it’s just an added bonus that they specialize in outdoor and lake gear for the lovers of Lake Minnetonka. 256 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.0256.
Runners up: Excelsior Brewing Co., Roger Fazendin Realtors

Best Gift Shop

General Store of Minnetonka
It should come as no surprise that the General Store of Minnetonka has once again won the award for best gift shop. We wouldn’t believe you if you said you know someone inside (or outside) the lake community who hasn’t wandered through the General Store and left with one of the shop’s many treasures. The question isn’t what can you find at the General Store, it’s what can’t you find? 14401 Highway 7, Minnetonka; 952.935.2215.
Runners up: Capers, Provisions Gourmet

Best Jewelry Store

Graham Jewelers
Odds are it’s a pretty special occasion if you find yourself in a jewelry store. Whether you’re looking for an engagement ring, or just a special gift for a special occasion, the staff at Graham Jewelers can help you find what you need. They offer a selection from some of the best designers from around the world. 800 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.6931.
Runners up: EverGreene Jewelers, ekate + The Orchard Art House

Best New Shop
Merilou Boutique
Opening a brand new shop can be daunting, but Wayzata has welcomed Keaton Frees and her business partner Chrissie Boyd with open arms. “The community has been so supportive,” Frees says. “Wayzata has always had that cute, small-town feel and I love it.” You may recognize the last name Frees, as her husband Hans and his company Outdoor Excapes were named the best landscape designer/architect. Merilou specializes in both classic and contemporary styles for women. 726 East Lake St., Wayzata; 952.476.0027
Runners up: ekate + The Orchard Art House, House of 365

Photo courtesy of Austin Images

Photo courtesy of Austin Images

Best Consignment Shop
Cherie Consignment Boutique
As an upscale consignment shop, you can expect to find some of the best brands at Cherie Consignment. That’s a big part of the store’s appeal. Founded by a mother and daughter duo, it’s one of the many shops that brings charm to Excelsior’s Water Street. “I like the small-town feel of Excelsior,” says owner Cherie Romkema. “You get to know a lot of the customers, and end up with a lot of regulars.” 278 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.7775.
Runners up: Fashion Avenue, Hope Chest

Best Liquor Store
Much like Dunn Brothers, Haskell’s is a staple of Excelsior Commons. OK, so you can’t go grab a six-pack and drink it on the street, but if you’re planning a backyard barbecue or a weekend party, it’s probably the first place you think of to pick up party drinks. 1 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.0937.
Runners up: Mound Municipal Liquor Store, Village Wine Imports LLC

Best Shoe Store
Schuler Shoes
Sure, you’ll be able to find stylish new kicks at Schuler Shoes, but the family-owned Minnesota company isn’t just about fashion. Shoes are meant to be functional, and the staff at Schuler Shoes are experts in combining form and fashion with shoes that look and fit great. They also specialize in footwear for specific problems and conditions. 1175 East Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.345.0021.
Runners up: The Foursome Men’s Apparel and Shoes, DS

Photo courtesy of Candlelight Floral

Photo courtesy of Candlelight Floral

Best Florist
Candlelight Floral
No matter the occasion, you can’t go wrong with a gift of flowers. To do that, you need a florist who really knows what they’re doing, and Candlelight Floral is exactly that. The family owned operation has been in the area for more than 50 years, and has more than 100 years of experience on its staff, which clearly impressed our readers. 275 East Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.2564.
Runners up: Excelsior Florist, Bayside Just Because Floral & Gift Shop

Best Foodie Shop
Lunds & Byerly’s Kitchen
Quickly becoming the best spot around for foodies, Lunds & Byerly’s Kitchen is the first of its kind. It offers pretty much everything you’d want in one space, from beer and wine to prepared foods to groceries. It’s reinventing how we shop for food, and is becoming a food destination all in itself. 250 Superior Blvd., Wayzata; 952.476.1122.
Runners up: Lakewinds Food Co-op, Harvest Moon

Best Car Dealership
Lexus of Wayzata
Lexus of Wayzata has been a staple of the Wayzata community for nearly 25 years now (it will celebrate its 25th anniversary in September 2015). “We’re proud to have been at the same location for the whole time,” general manager Robert Katz says. “We treat each customer as we would a guest in our home, and that’s the same way we feel about the community.” 16100 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.476.6111.
Runners up: BMW of Minnetonka, Morrie’s Minnetonka Ford

Best Coffee Shop
Dunn Brothers
There are a few spots around Excelsior Commons that you just have to visit. Dunn Brothers is one of those spots. Whether it’s the middle of summer and you need a cold drink, or the middle of winter and need something warm, it’s hard to imagine spending time on Water Street without heading over to Dunn Brothers. 11 Water St., Excelsior; 952.401.8004.
Runners up: 318 Café, Peoples Organic

Kids & Family

Keeping families active and happy—from kiddos to pets—is important to our winners in this category who provide services and products for every member of your brood.

Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel
Adogo Pet Hotel
Consider Adogo the place you can watch your dog even when you aren’t there. There are cameras in the playroom so you can keep an eye on your pet while you’re away. Along with the first location in Minnetonka, there are locations at Ridgedale and in Maple Grove. 6133 Baker Road, Minnetonka; 952.933.5200.
Runners up: Top Dog Country Club, The Canine Club & Spa

Best Place to Spoil Your Pet
Lulu & Luigi
Lulu & Luigi has been serving the pet community in Wayzata for 10 years now, and all our furry friends couldn’t be happier about it. The boutique-meets-groomer-meets-salon is so good at pampering pets, it may make you jealous that you aren’t getting the same treatment. 812 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.249.0330.
Runners up: Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet, Glamour Pets

Best Veterinary Clinic
Westonka Animal Hospital
Westonka Animal Hospital has been a family affair for almost 25 years. Craig and Jackie Piepkorn have been veterinarians at the clinic since the early ‘90s, and the husband-and-wife team also owns the hospital. Among the staff, there’s more than 55 years of experience serving the Lake Minnetonka community. 2125 Commerce Blvd., Mound; 952.472.4900.
Runners up: Excelsior Animal Hospital, Village Animal Hospital

Best Preschool/ Childcare
Mount Calvary Lutheran Church
Excelsior has proven to be the perfect backdrop for Mount Calvary Lutheran Church’s preschool. Teachers can walk kids to the library, or pet store. Or just walk them around Main Street where they can be out and about enjoying the community. 301 County Road 19, Excelsior; 952.474.8893.
Runners up: Wayzata Community Church, St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development

Best Learning/ Tutoring Center

College Nannies + Tutors
With services ranging from childcare to tutoring, College Nannies + Tutors offers help for students of all ages. “We take students who are struggling at something like geometry, or those who need ACT help and work one-on-one to reach their goal, whether that’s a C- or an A+,” owner Jere Edlund says. Most of the tutors are college students who excel in certain subjects and have a passion for helping kids with their studies. 1415 Wayzata Blvd., Ste. 100, Wayzata; 952.476.0613.
Runners up: Mathnasium, Do Re Mi Music Therapy

Best Dance Studio
Deanne’s Dance Studio
Deanne Roberg founded Deanne’s Dance Studio in 1969, and her dance classes are still going strong to this day. Plus, the last thing you need to worry about at this studio is crazy reality show antics: Deanne’s is all about building kids’ confidence and teaching them the love of dance. 3311 County Road 101, Wayzata; 952.473.3903.
Runners up: Creo Arts & Dance Conservatory, Katie Lien School of Dance, Summit Dance Shoppe

Chad Babcock of State Farm stands out as Best Insurance Agent. Photo by Emily J. Davis

Chad Babcock of State Farm stands out as Best Insurance Agent. Photo by Emily J. Davis


Sure, it’s easy to forget about the folks giving you great service—if they do their jobs well, things go so smoothly you barely realize it. Let’s take this opportunity to say thanks to the people who make our lives easier here in the lake area—especially to those listed below, who provide the most top-notch service of all.

Best Insurance Agent
Chad Babcock
No stranger to awards, Chad Babcock takes home the crown for best insurance agent for the second year in a row. Working for State Farm, Babcock helps lake-area residents manage their risk and keep their assets safe. He loves the lake community, and is also a fixture on the Chamber of Commerce. 2015 Hillcrest Ave., St. Paul; 612.872.7200.
Runners up: Anne Rothstein, Janet Symons

Best Financial Advisor
Rebecca Hopf
Finding a financial advisor is hard. That’s why it’s easier if you have one as a neighbor. Rebecca Hopf is the perfect example. She works for Waddell and Reed out of Bloomington, but she has lived in the Lake Minnetonka area since 2005 and is active in the local community. That’s allowed her to build a long list of clients in the area and earned her the title of best financial advisor. 3601 Minnesota Drive, Suite 550, Bloomington; 952.884.1503.
Runners up: Alan Fleischauer, Whitney Windmiller

Best Real Estate Agent
Aaron and Adrienne Thompson
Husband and wife team Aaron and Adrienne Thompson have helped their fair share of residents find their dream homes. The couple immerses themselves in the community, which has helped them gain the trust of folks looking to buy or sell a home. 386 Oak St., Excelsior; 952.486.7146.
Runners up: Tammy Maddrey, Joel Hentges

Best Massage Therapist
Myra Wang
When Myra Wang moved to Excelsior seven years ago, she had no idea how close-knit the community was. “I can’t emphasis how amazing this community is,” Wang says. “We all take care of each other and support each other.” Community members are showing their appreciation for Wang as well, as she has been selected the best massage therapist. 464 2nd St., Suite 201, Excelsior; 612.834.0701.
Runners up: Lori McKinney (Bella on the Bay), Jamie Niesen (Knewtson)

Best Hairstylist/Barber

Ashlee Olson, Bella on the Bay
Ashlee Olson is one of the newest stylists at Bella on the Bay, but she has quickly gained a loyal following. Olson has worked at Bella for five years, and has risen to the ranks of senior stylist. “She really finds trends and pushes clients’ limits when it comes to those trends,” says Kim Richard, owner of Bella on the Bay. 474 Second St., Excelsior; 952.474.5005.
Runners up: Heather Mackenzie (Bella on the Bay), William Anderson (Lili Salon Spa)

Best Salon/Spa
Bella on the Bay
No matter how you want to be pampered, Bella on the Bay can take care of you. Whether you need a haircut, massage or a full spa day, Bella has the package to accommodate, and it all takes place in a classic 1900s home on the bay. 474 Second St., Excelsior; 952.474.5005.
Runners up: Juut SalonSpa, Lili Salon Spa

Best Nail Salon
Excelsior Nails and Day Spa
Whatever your nail style of choice is, Excelsior Nails and Day Spa has you covered. From a simple, quick manicure or pedicure, to signature packages that include every nail treatment you could ever imagine, they offer it all. Not only that, but they have full spa packages too, so if you’re in the mood for a little more than a nail makeover, they have you covered. 21 Water St., Excelsior; 952.923.2462.
Runners up: Fabulous Nails, Anna Nails

Editor’s Picks

Best New Bakery
Hans’ Bakery
Not only does this new bakery in Navarre carry gluten-free baked goods (made in a GF kitchen), it also has an inspiring revival story: New owner Kelly Olsen bought the iconic Anoka bakery when it was in foreclosure because of its sentimental community value. Olsen tells a story of prancing into Hans’ Bakery as a kid to snag one of their treats as a prize for winning the Best Rester award in her preschool class. She wanted others in the northern suburbs, and now those in the lake area, to experience the shop’s delectable delights, so she spent 2013 preparing to bring back the Anoka location. It opened to such crowds in February 2014 that adding the Navarre store was practically a no-brainer; it opened in October 2014. 3465 Shoreline Drive, Navarre; 763.421.4200.

Best Home Gifts
Five Swans
Whether you’re looking to start a wedding registry or you need to pick up a host or hostess gift, Five Swans in Wayzata is your place. Chock full of home furnishings, cute knickknacks and unique kitchen items, the retail shop can meet just about every one of your practical home needs. Plus, the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to helping you choose the product that’s best for you. 315 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.4685.

Best Personalized Fitness Instruction
Strength Studio of Minnetonka
Who can turn down one-on-one fitness instruction on highly specialized equipment—especially when you only have to show up twice a week for less than half an hour to see results? Strength Studio of Minnetonka offers the kind of strength training most of us have only dreamed about. With a philosophy based on total muscle fatigue combined with dedicated amounts of rest time, Strength Studio and its instructors help you tone and strengthen your body on your lunch break. Plus, your scheduled workout is in a temperature-controlled room (read: sweating is practically non-existent) with just you and your instructor. You can’t get much more personalized than that. 5125 County Road 101, #102, Minnetonka; 952.322.7070.

Best Friday Night Event

The Cellar at Scusi!
When Friday night rolls around at Excelsior’s Scusi!, the lights go down, live jazz takes center stage and the spirits flow as its 200-year-old space transforms into a 1920s speakeasy. Right out of the roaring 20s, this former bowling alley offers a glimpse into the days of Prohibition era, bringing guests back to another time. While there’s no secret handshake, entry password or bootleg spirits, the amount of fun you’ll have could be illegal. Fridays, 8–11 p.m., 221 Water St., Excelsior; 952.470.2016.

Best Place for Unique, Local Gifts
eKate designs + The Orchard Art House
Erin Kate Duininck of eKate designs has fabulous personal style, which is revealed in her personal line of jewelry and in the unique art and accessories she curates at her pop-up-turned-permanent-community-fixture, The Orchard Art House. Duininck once told us that one of her goals is to help lake-area ladies be stylish at any age—we think she’s accomplishing that with the array of easy-to-gift items with which she fills the beautiful Orchard Art House. 369 George St., Excelsior; 612.598.2098.

Best Compassion for Our Furry Friends
Top Dog Foundation
Top Dog Country Club founder and owner Jean Beuning has made it the mission of the nonprofit Top Dog Foundation to find loving homes for senior dogs, many of which are considered unlikely to be adopted. In many cases, the senior pets are placed with a senior person, creating a new family filled with love. And that can make anyone—pet or person—feel young again. Learn more about this program online at

Best Nonprofit for Kids and Families
St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development
In 2014, the Minnesota House of Representatives and State Senate passed a Bonding Bill, which contained a $3.75 million for the expansion of Minnetonka-based St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development. The nonprofit, which specializes in early childhood education and intervention and treatment for children with developmental needs, will combine those funds with nearly $8.5 million they raised in a capital campaign to fund a new, state-of-the-art facility that will double St. David’s reach. The project will support redesigned and expanded autism day treatment classrooms, including on-site therapy rooms; a children’s mental health clinic housing outpatient and community-based services including a new school-linked program in Hopkins and Osseo schools; and improved early childhood classroom environments, right-sized to support current educational practices where children of all abilities learn side-by-side. 3395 Plymouth Road, Minnetonka; 952.939.0396.

Best Nonprofit Building a Better Community
ICA Food Shelf
ICA Food Shelf has been serving the lake area for more than 40 years, but 2014 marked an expansion for the organization. The ICA team opened a new location in Minnetonka that not only increases its reach, but helps continue to promote dignity for their clients. The Minnetonka storefront is a brick and mortar food shelf where families can shop for produce, meat, pantry items and necessities for themselves; it looks and operates much like a traditional grocery store. 11588 K-Tel Drive, Minnetonka; 952.938.0729.


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