Best Of Plymouth 2016 Winners

by | Jun 2016

The eye-popping bourbon barbecue burger from Rock Elm Tavern, winner of Best New Restaurant.

The eye-popping bourbon barbecue burger from Rock Elm Tavern, winner of Best New Restaurant. Photo: Marissa Martinson

Our annual readers’ choice survey reveals the extraordinary among us in 38 categories.

Historical vernacular tells us that a diamond in the rough is someone or something with hidden exceptional characteristics or future potential, a phrase that relates to the naturally occurring diamonds that are ordinary (dusty and carbon-coated) at first glance. In many cases, the talents are unproven or in need of polishing, perhaps hidden in mines yet to be discovered.

One could argue that the diamond is an ideal metaphor for the winners of our Best of Plymouth 2016 categories—in more ways than one. Certainly, those who are first-time winners might be new or new-to-you in town. They’re on the verge of discovery, overcoming their “rough” and just beginning to shine.

Then there are those who have been blazing brightly for years, the crown jewels, if you will, of the community. In fact, all of our winners this year are true gems, carrying the characteristics of many different colors, cuts and clarities, depending on their individual areas of expertise. Stunning as they are to look at, we hope this roundup will be equally enlightening to read.

Without further ado, the winners of our annual readers’ choice survey, the very Best of Plymouth 2016.

More than a century and a half past the nation’s largest gold rush, society likes to think it now has a little more wisdom than to chase shiny things. But with the toil of the workday, everyone is still just panning for a golden beacon of joy—except now those joys are often served on plates. Shovels might have become forks, but the rush to new mining spots continues. Search no longer, epicureans: These precious gems are Plymouth’s best palate pleasers.


Best Bakery
Lunds & Byerlys

Pastries, cupcakes, muffins and artisan breads: What brings out a spring luncheon, Easter buffet or Mother’s Day brunch quite like fresh bakery items? The local chain that’s taken the Twin Cities by storm is a great place to start your next party plan, big or small. The goal is to wow each and every customer who visits the bakery through “our level of quality, service and expertise,” Lunds communications manager Aaron Sorenson says.
Runners up: Cub Foods Bakery, Wuollet Bakery

Best Patio Dining
Jake’s City Grille

A Minnesota summer is fluorite—beautiful, colorful and, unfortunately, not the least bit durable. Roughly 90 days in length, summer is fleeting, and that’s why a good patio is more than just an outdoor space—it’s a coveted experience. Jake’s City Grille knows how to make this experience memorable, with a huge outdoor offering that features outdoor fireplaces and sprawling trees to provide shade. Manager Gretchen Farrant makes her recommendation clear: “Our fresh bruschetta and a glass of pinot grigio to sip on while you’re on the patio is a must—you could easily make an afternoon or night out of it,” she says.
Runners up: Sunshine Factory Bar and Grill, Cowboy Jack’s

Best Breakfast
Original Pancake House

Pancakes are the heirloom of breakfast foods, with recipes passed down through generations for multitudes to enjoy. Original Pancake House honors this, and the city of Plymouth is thankful for it. “These recipes have survived the decades and are made all from scratch. Those two things make our pancakes really special and authentic,” manager Charlie Mejia says. Beyond dozens of pancake combos you couldn’t dream up, the menu also offers soufflé omelets, waffles, French toast and every other breakfast craving you can dream of.
Runners up: Peg’s Countryside Café, Panera Bread

Best New Restaurant
Rock Elm Tavern and Restaurant

Rock Elm owners Troy Reding and Brad Sorenson call the Rock Elm dining experience “sub-urban,” intentionally hyphenated, a nod to the modern menu and design aesthetic often associated with downtown eating they brought to the suburb of Plymouth. Reding calls the burgers a must-try, specifically the Rock Elm burger, which boasts Montemore cheese brought across state lines from Wisconsin, roasted mushrooms, arugula and a candied walnut aoli supporting the star of the show: Simply Essential ground beef raised in southwestern Minnesota. With an impressive selection of local and regional craft beers, and 30 of them on tap, it’s no surprise you selected Rock Elm as the leading pendant of all food categories.
Runners up: The Sunshine Factory Bar and Grill, Honey and Mackie’s

Best Tavern/Bar
Cowboy Jack’s

Forget the diamond rings—there are onion rings to be had. If Cowboy Jack’s $2 rails and beers happy hour does not entice you, the Wednesday night $2 half-pound Angus beef burger (and karaoke!) might. “Weekends are great here, with live music and the build-your-own endless bloody Mary bar, but really, we want everyone who comes in to have a great time whenever, which is why we have specials every day,” says Kailey Link of the marketing team.
Runners up: Rock Elm Tavern & Restaurant, The Sunshine Factory Bar & Grill

Editor’s Pick: Oldest ‘New’ Restaurant
The Sunshine Factory Bar and Grill

General manager and partner April Hanson says the secret to The Sunshine Factory’s consistency is an almost exclusively made-from-scratch menu, adding something that’s more like common sense than a secret: hard work.

How long have you been in Plymouth?
We’ve been a local restaurant since 1976, but just moved from New Hope to Plymouth in November 2013.

What’s your secret to longevity and success?
You have to work hard to earn the customers’ loyalty and, once you have them, work even harder to keep their business.

What are your most requested entrées?
Plymouthites most frequently request the pit-smoked baby-back ribs, Buffalo flatbread, cracker-crumb-coated walleye, chicken quesadillas and shrimp skewers with pineapple salsa.

Editor’s Pick: Best Self-starter
Peg Rasmussen, Peg’s Countryside Cafe and Catering

The year 2015 was a milestone for Peg Rasmussen—it marked 40 years of business for Peg’s Countryside Café, a beloved Highway 55 stop. Rasmussen had no restaurant experience when she joined the local restaurant business, and now, decades later, she sits as reigning queen.

How many years have you been in Plymouth?
When I purchased the café in 1975, there were not many retail businesses along the Highway 55 corridor. Medina Entertainment, Dundee Nursery and a few gas stations dotted the landscape. There were no other restaurants west of 494, and our customers were farmers and local residents. We purchased our eggs directly from Mrs. Agnes Kohnen, who came to the door with eggs fresh from her hen house (a few feathers included).

What’s most interesting about running Peg’s Countryside Café?
We have great food and great connections with people and groups throughout the area. We are the “country cousin” who can dress up to come to your fancy party (and bring the hors d’ouevres)!

What is your favorite thing about Plymouth?
Residents are happy to be in Plymouth and proud of their schools, well-managed city, and churches. They care about their neighbors and are generous to community members in need. Folks here step up when a need arises.

Photo by Emily J. Davis


The diamond is the hardest known natural substance in the world. It is durability and permanence that compel society to use it as a symbol of marriage, but it’s its brilliance and universally appealing aesthetic that make it a worthy companion in everyday life. The same ideals are considered with homes. While a top priority might be creating a safe and reliable shelter for loved ones, it’s not unrealistic to want a visual and sensual sanctuary, too. Here are the businesses that ensure you get the top grade in both.

Best Landscape Design
Dundee Nursery

Some might not realize it, but there’s more than a gift and garden center housed in the long, green-roofed building off Highway 55 in Plymouth: Dundee is home to a full-service landscaping department, with designers and crews on staff, ensuring that the entire team is fully committed to great service. The top three requests residents bring to the table? Foundation plantings, front entryways and back patio installations. Since Dundee designers specialize in landscapes (trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals), hardscape construction (retaining walls, patios and walkways) and novelty features (fire pits, water features and accent lighting), Plymouth’s notoriously clay-like soil doesn’t stand a chance.
Runners up: CHW Landscape Design, MH3 Design Group

Home extends to the outdoors when Donna Lloyd, one of Dundee Nursery’s landscape designers, gets ahold of your yard; photo by Marissa Martinson

Home extends to the outdoors when Donna Lloyd, one of Dundee Nursery’s landscape designers, gets ahold of your yard; photo by Marissa Martinson

Best Interior Designer
Jayne Morrison Interiors

A shining gem on the Plymouth home décor scene is Jayne Morrison, who adds a fourth consecutive award in this category. Conceptualizing the homeowners’ vision and bringing personality into the mix is her mantra and what she prides herself on—locally, for more than 20 years.
Runners up: Gayle Crummer, Mingle

Best Home Service
David’s Lawn Service

Having a lush, emerald-green yard is highly sought, but life (and sometimes nature) seems too often to get in the way. Plymouthites time and time again have turned to David Haxton and his team of experts for services from landscaping to lawn maintenance. “Our attention to detail leads to a quality of work that looks great and has lasting power,” Haxton says. “We pride ourselves on perfectionism.”
Runners up: Ditter Cooling and Heating, Sabre Plumbing, Heating and AC

Best Senior Living Residence
Trillium Woods

The age of a stone doesn’t detract from its loveliness and value. Perhaps that’s why Plymouth has fully embraced Trillium Woods, a community that lives by this philosophy and offers a comprehensive program putting the health and happiness of its members first; thought, attention to detail and commitment to serving is what Trillium Woods strives to provide. “This is more than a place to live,” marketing manager Cari Doucette says. “We have created a home of convenience, companionship, celebration, service and security, where residents can enjoy their lives to the fullest.”
Runners up: SummerWood of Plymouth, The Waters of Plymouth

Best Builder
Platinum Remodeling and Handyman Services

Platinum Remodeling is a perennial favorite in the Best of Plymouth readers’ choice survey. The Platinum team is valued for their commitment to creating true partnerships with clients, their ability to see details as part of a bigger picture and their dedication to leaving no stone unturned when problem solving. “The office and field staff are what makes us exceptional … we have more than 200 years of combined experience in the residential construction industry,” owner Josh Shonkwiler says. “Our staff genuinely cares about the customers and their projects, and they are all-around just good folks who people like having around.”
Runners up: Pillar Homes, Bainey Group (commercial construction)

Photo courtesy of platinum remodeling

Photo courtesy of platinum remodeling

Best Home Furnishings
HOM Furniture

HOM Furniture is nationally renowned for being a treasure trove of top-of-the-line furniture, but its loyalty in Plymouth seems to be less about the offering, and more about the willingness and the ability of the staff to connect with customers and find the best fit for their wants and needs. “The combination of our knowledgeable and friendly staff with our wide selection of products puts us in the best position to help people find great pieces,” manager Bruce Christopherson says. The 160,000-square-foot space also doesn’t hurt your chances of finding that perfect new piece.
Runners up: Mingle, Schneiderman’s

Photo courtesy of HOM Furniture

Photo courtesy of HOM Furniture


Precious jewels and gems are beloved for their natural beauty, but even the most natural of beauties needs a bit of prime and polish to showcase their brightest shine. Health and wellness is not so different from this concept—everybody can benefit from routine upkeep. Behold: the best spots to refinish and revitalize your natural beauty.

Best Dental Clinic
Boger Dental

The teeth of patients aren’t the only things shining at Boger Dental—the award wall is filling up fast. This is the fourth year the family-owned business has won Best Dental Clinic in Plymouth. The differentiator? A history of excellence: “My father established our tradition of excellence here at Boger Dental 40 years ago, and it is our mission to maintain that high level of integrity through all that we do here,” says Chad Boger, DDS. “We hire the best, and we invest in the latest technology, so that we can provide comprehensive dental care all under one roof.” The clinic offers everything from general dentistry and orthodontics to dental implants, cosmetic and restorative dentistry, and is the leading practice in the Minneapolis area for neuromuscular dentistry.
Runners up: Smile Design Dentistry, Artisan Dentistry

Best Pediatric Clinic
Partners in Pediatrics

Putting your most precious gems—your children—in the hands of someone else sometimes can bring an uneasy feeling. Partners in Pediatrics understands this is how many parents feel regarding their children’s health. Since 2013, Partners in Pediatrics locations in the Twin Cities have been a part of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, allowing unparalleled resources and access to the top providers and staff.
Runners up: South Lake Pediatrics, Park Nicollet

Best Orthodontic Clinic
Harrington Orthodontics

The cut of a polished gem is only as brilliant as the skill of the handler, and this truth remains in many service lines. Dr. Mark Harrington’s 20-plus years of orthodontic experience have shaped Harrington Orthodontics into what it is today—one of the most prestigious and celebrated practices in the Twin Cities area. It also helps to have a staff that is beloved by patients for their thoughtfulness and the energy they bring, and a recent remodel that includes a waiting room that feels more like your dream living room.
Runners up: Minnesota Orthodontics, Smile Design Dentistry

Best Dermatology Clinic
Minnesota Dermatology

Minnesota Dermatology is the choice location for Plymouth residents, with a range of service areas, including general, medical, and surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Phil Ecker claims the clinic’s success flows from the empathetic team that makes up his staff. “We’re always thinking of how we’re treating patients in terms of how we would like our loved ones or ourselves to be treated,” he says.
Runners up: Park Nicollet, Allina

Best Fitness or Yoga Studio
Life Time Fitness

The center stone of Plymouth Boulevard since 1997, Life Time’s amenities include a childcare center, indoor and outdoor swimming, and a climbing wall—not to mention LifeSpa, LifeCafe and LifeClinic (chiropractic). Hot right now? Pilates.
Runners up: Orangetheory Fitness, yogastudio

Best Eye Clinic
Kennedy Vision Health Center

Kennedy Vision Health Center knows that so much of life’s beauty is in the details, and the staff works to ensure all eyes can take in these wonders as Plymouth’s go-to destination for everything vision related. Serving the entire spectrum of age groups, it’s a great clinic for families with multiple vision needs. “Our patients tell us they appreciate how thorough we are and that they feel like they’re in good hands,” clinic manager Sherry Dawson says. “That’s the feedback we’re always working for.”
Runners up: Complete Eye Care of Medina, Northwest Eye Clinic

Best Chiropractic Clinic
Northern Edge Chiropractic

Relatively new to Plymouth is Northern Edge Chiropractic, opened in 2013 by chiropractors Mitchell Brecke and Nicholas Curry. The two Northwestern graduates have hit the ground running, which is apropos, as Brecke is a lifelong resident of our city. The former high school quarterback currently gets his exercise on the links or the lakes that keep this area rich with outdoor opportunity. It’s exactly this kind of active lifestyle the doctors hope to support in their burgeoning practice.
Runners up: Y Chiropractic, Lake West Chiropractic and Natural Health

Best Med Spa
Simonson’s Salon & Spa

It might sound cliché, but Simonson’s owner Kyle Simonson associates her business with a diamond. “Diamonds are symbols of strength, loyalty, love and fidelity, all of which mirror our core beliefs,” she says, adding that three words that describe the new med spa accreditation to her business are intention, inspiration and integrity. “[But] a diamond is made of the same basic element as coal—carbon. A diamond has the most tightly packed, concentrated, uniform arrangement of atoms of any carbon by-product, so by comparison and contrast, basic beauty elements alone do not create the sparkle.” Simonson’s, she says, has the ability to make people feel and look amazing, a role and responsibility she doesn’t take lightly. Just this past year, Simonson formed a professional alliance with Harrington and Associates to bring a whole new level of aesthetic and wellness to Plymouth. Board-certified physician assistants are on-call in house to provide expert Botox/dermal filler injectors and nutritional consultations; reservations required.
Runners up: Anew Medspa, Gr8 Skin

Editor’s Pick: Best Acupuncture
Lake West Chiropractic

Lake West Chiropractic’s primary doctor of chiropractic, Jeffrey Wock, has what some might call a hidden talent: He’s also board- certified in acupuncture, the practice of inserting fine needles on specific meridian points for the purpose of relieving tension, pressure or pain.

How long have you been in Plymouth?
I’ve owned Lake West Chiropractic since 2006, but worked here for the previous owner a couple of years before that.

Acupuncture in a chiropractic office?
Simply put, we want to offer insight into acupuncture, and there are very few places in Plymouth to obtain the service.

Chiropractic adjustment or acupuncture?
Both. When I recommend acupuncture, it’s usually as a supplement holistic approach to regular adjustments.

Are there any risks or negative side effects?
Some, but not all people might experience some mild light-headedness, in extreme cases cold sweats, hot flashes or even nausea. These usually occur during the procedure, in which case we stop. None of these are permanent side effects.

How much does it cost?
$45 a session; often a series of sessions, sometimes with increasing wiring (read: pin pricks), is recommended.


Garnet and sapphire are two gems with a brilliance about them that reminds us of the winners in our Shops and Retail categories: a vibrant color that immediately brands each stone for what it is—precious, particular and preferred. Whether it’s the 80-year-old Foursome men’s shop offering a level of service that can’t be matched in any other local boutique or the bountiful blossoms at Bachman’s, the winners in these categories sparkle for a specific art or specialty. And speaking of brilliance, this is the section where you finally discover the winner in the Best Jewelry Store category, offering perhaps the most dazzling gemstones of all.

Best Gift Shop

When husband and wife Rick Haase and Christine Ward opened the metro area’s first Patina store in Minneapolis in 1993, it’s difficult to say if they imagined the seven-location gift-shopping gold standard it has become. They did, however, envision the masterfully curated selection of art and products that inspires giving, and an appreciation for all things beautiful and clever, which is why Plymouthites continue to prefer this shop down the road for gifting.
Runners up: Bachman’s, Art 2 Heart

The assortment of gifts at Patina make it a can’t-miss stop for Plymouth shoppers; Photo by Emily J. Davis

The assortment of gifts at Patina make it a can’t-miss stop for Plymouth shoppers; Photo by Emily J. Davis

Best Grocery Store
Lunds & Byerlys

Open since 2001, the Plymouth location of the Twin Cities-based chain offers specialty services, including on-site wines and spirits, a pharmacy and a community room that can be rented by anyone from yogis to businessmen, easily making it the winningest business in this year’s Best of Plymouth readers’ choice.
Runners up: Cub Foods, HyVee

Best Jewelry Store
Artelle Designs

There’s a certain exclusivity one experiences when stepping into Artelle Designs—perhaps it starts with the by-appointment-only status and intimate meeting space that starts every custom project off on the right foot. This one-at-a-time operating style is born both out of priority and necessity: For more than 40 years, Stuart J. Adelman has been creating one-of-a-kind pieces. “The main designer is me,” he admits. “I make most everything in-store and in the studio … You come in and talk to me personally,” which is the only reason he’ll step away from his creative work.
Runners up: Graham Jewelers, Jewelry World

Best Apparel Boutique
The Foursome

The fact that a menswear (as opposed to women’s) boutique wins over all apparel categories in this year’s Best of Plymouth speaks to the excellence the Engel family has established as Plymouth’s longest-run family-owned local business. The Foursome founders Ron and Lucille Engel set a stellar example that son, Gordy, and four of his six children carry on to this day. “We’re about building relationships and finding high-quality products at a value for our customers,” says Michael Engel, vice president and CFO.
Runners up: Heartbreaker, Turn Style Consignment

Best Liquor Store

The Haskell’s brand is celebrating 80 years in the business, and manager Jim Slattery orchestrates his Plymouth store with a knowledgeable staff, who are all educated to help guide customers to that perfect glass of champagne or bottle of wine. Is it really such a surprise that another family-owned business comes in first when it comes to your top spot for purchasing spirits?
Runners up: The Cellars Wine & Spirits, Vinifera Wines and Ales

Best Specialty Foods Store
Lunds & Byerlys

Thanks to its convenient location at the intersection of Highway 55 and Vicksburg Lane in Plymouth, you might just consider it your neighborhood grocery store, but step inside and it’s crystal-clear Lunds & Byerlys is anything but. Shelves are constantly stocked with new and unique items, making the store feel more like a personalized market than a grocer. “We pride ourselves on giving each customer extra attention,” communications manager Aaron Sorenson says.
Runners up: Cocina de Ana, Honey and Mackie’s

Editor’s Pick: Best Patriarch of the Longest-standing Family-owned Business in Town
Gordy Engel, The Foursome

3570 Vicksburg Lane N. Ste. 100; 763.473.4667;
Gordy Engel is president of the family-owned menswear retailer The Foursome, which has been open in Plymouth for six years, but in the area (specifically, Wayzata) for more than 80 years. The family-owned title is no ploy—four of his children and two of their spouses work with Engel on a daily basis to bring customers a top shopping experience.

What’s most challenging about what you do?
To continue as an independent family business for 80 years takes flexibility, risk taking and hard work, wrapped in faith and trust in the Lord … Challenges have changed through the years—styles [in] tastes, and economic ups and downs; and competition [in] malls, competitors and the Internet. But what has stayed constant is treating customers with loving kindness and selling quality, value-priced merchandise—that will always bring success.

How do you spend your free time?
First and foremost, I enjoy spending quality time with Nancy and our large family. I am active in my church, Redeemer Lutheran, as a Bible study leader and part of the leadership team for the Wayzata Bay Fellowship that meets Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. in the Folkestone Chapel in Wayzata.

What is your favorite thing about Plymouth?
Plymouth is a progressive city made up of businesses and people who are dedicated to working together to provide a vibrant, safe community.

Foursome patriarch Gordy Engel, right, shares his work days with children Michael Engel, Keri Rouen and Nicole Chose; Photo by Marissa Martinson

Foursome patriarch Gordy Engel, right, shares his work days with children Michael Engel, Keri Rouen and Nicole Chose; Photo by Marissa Martinson

Best Florist

There are a couple of places you can go to get the goods from Plymouth’s Best Florist in town. Not only does Bachman’s boast its own gift center off Sixth Avenue; the local florist has a wide array of offerings in its in-store Lunds & Byerlys bouquet department, too, and is a surefire go-to when you’re in need of that mood freshener (or last-minute gift).
Runners up: Dundee Nursery, Candlelight Floral

Bachman’s floral designers can do custom work for any occasion—including a photo shoot for Plymouth Magazine; Photo by Tate Carlson

Bachman’s floral designers can do custom work for any occasion—including a photo shoot for Plymouth Magazine; Photo by Tate Carlson

Editor’s Pick: The Giving-est Gift Shop
Art 2 Heart

In partnership with organizations such as Action for Children–Zambia, Kids Inspiring Kids in Uganda, and Grace International World Outreach in Vietnam and the Philippines, Art 2 Heart provides opportunities for consumers, artists, crafters and others with creative gifts to change lives. In fact, owner Lori Westling ensures the nonprofit Christian ministry-based store just west of Plymouth invests 100 percent of profits to the primarily women and children free-trade artisans around the world.

How long have you been in the Plymouth area?
I founded the business in 2004 and have owned the Hamel storefront location since 2010.

Who are your partners?
We choose ministry partners where we have a personal connection and know the money is going directly to the people. We don’t just give to humanitarian or missions organizations, but to the partners serving the people every day.

What’s for sale?
The store’s offerings range from handmade Ugandan journals to embellished stainless steel spatulas, and each product comes with its own unique story.

Who shops here?
The shop is quickly becoming a destination location for consumers who want to use their purchasing power to buy on-trend and handmade products that bring hope and dignity to the artists who create them, local artist Jen Swift says.


The allure of an opal lies in its intricacies; angles and light play together to create small bursts of iridescence largely unseen from far away, but that make up the very fiber of the stone itself. Such are the idiosyncrasies that individualize our loved ones—the most precious gems of all. These Best of Plymouth categories focus on child care, pet care and other areas of personal importance. Adorn yourself in their majestic splendor.

Photo by Marissa Martinson

Photo by Marissa Martinson

Best Place to Spoil Your Pet
Chuck and Don’s

Pet owners know that their furry friends are, in fact, family, and as with human family members, the food and products they use matter to both health and happiness. The wide offering of all-natural products for all pets has been the root of Chuck and Don’s success. “We want to make pets and their owners happy, and we truly keep both of those groups in mind,” assistant manager Joseph Lehman says.
Runners up: It’s a Pet’s Life, Premier Pet Salon

Best Learning/ Tutoring Center
Achieve Academics (formerly Chyten Premier Tutoring and Test Preparation)

Set sail for academic excellence! This is the motto for Achieve Academics, says owner/director Jennifer Paidosh, who just changed the name of the tutoring and test prep center formerly known as Chyten. “We’ve been compared to Nordstrom’s as a premier tutoring center based on our level of personal service,” she says. The mother of 11-year-old triplets understands the anxiety and stressors today’s level of sports and activity engagement can cause a student struggling to prioritize academics, too. “This is not a job,” Paidosh says. “This is about pride in our community and in our children’s success.”
Runners up: Huntington Learning Center, Mathnasium

Best Veterinary Clinic
Northwest Animal Hospital

Laurie Lishman, client service specialist at Northwest Animal Hospital, says the team there strives to treat everyone like family. “We treat every client and patient with respect and compassion,” Lishman says. “When we began building this practice three years ago, we sat down and determined what was most important to us as pet owners, moms and veterinary professionals. The result is a unique woman-run business designed with the comfort of patients and families in mind.” Veterinarian Sara Williams compares the burgeoning business to a diamond: “We started out a little rough and outdated, but with some much-needed remodeling, we are now proud to have a sparkling new practice,” she says.
Runners up: Rockford Road Animal Clinic, Oakwood Pet Clinic

Dr. Miriam examines a furry patient at Northwest Animal Hospital.

Dr. Miriam examines a furry patient at Northwest Animal Hospital.

Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel
Camp Bow Wow

Nick Netley moved to Plymouth from Iowa in 2006 to open a dog boarding community, “where a dog can be a dog,” as Camp Bow Wow’s motto goes. He and manager Josh Kruse have been so passionate about their business, at one time or another they’ve admitted each and every dog for an extended stay personally, and Netley has even convinced his dad, brother and sister to move up to the Plymouth area to join in the work and fun. “We have the most loyal Plymouth customers,” Kruse says. “We have been seeing the same people bring their dogs in year after year, and we always hear from new clients about how their neighbors bring their dogs here.”
Runners up: Adogo Pet Hotel, Puptown

Best Place for Kids’ Activities
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park

The geometric shapes that make up the designs of wall-to-wall trampolines at Sky Zone are similar in many ways to the intricate cuts of a gem, mesmerizing in all their glory for Plymouthites of all ages. That’s right: Anyone of any age and ability is welcome in the indoor trampoline park that’s been entertaining kids in Plymouth since 2010—the only restriction is that kids be able to follow the safety rules.
Runners up: Life Time Fitness, Summit Dance

Best Preschool/Childcare
New Horizon Academy

It’s no secret that kids love shiny things, which is how you know New Horizons twinkles brightest in town as a purveyor of “the best child development on the planet,” according to marketing assistant Joanna Rada. The Minnesota-based and family-owned company has a 45-year history that’s rich in commitment to excellent teaching and care. “Our favorite thing about our industry is that we have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of the children, as well as their families,” Rada says. “To know that we helped to prepare these children for success in school—and in life—gives us the greatest feeling of accomplishment.”
Runners up: Bloom Early Learning Center, Goddard School

Photo courtesy of New Horizon Academy

Photo courtesy of New Horizon Academy

Editor’s Pick: Best Community Connector
Jim Weinzetl, Kinship

Jim Weinzetl is an active advocate and board member of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches (GMCC). He’s particularly involved with the GMCC-supported program Kinship, a youth mentoring program for which Weinzetl has been a mentor for 14 years.

How many years have you lived in Plymouth?
My wife Jackie and I moved to Burl Oaks [neighborhood] in 1993. It was a terrific decision, as it has proximity to shopping and freeways and the airport and great restaurants and, of course, the parks and lakes of Plymouth.

How do you spend your free time?
I spend most of my time volunteering, primarily for mentoring organizations, especially Kinship, and also including mentoring for the kids in my scholarship funds. We have three children and nine grandchildren from the ages of 23 to 8. They keep us busy and young.

What do you love most about Plymouth?
It has great active churches, it has industry, medical facilities, shopping, a terrific police force and city administration, entertainment, an active senior community and facility, varied housing options, the wonderful Luce Line, and music and arts, and, lastly, charities and programs for the underprivileged. It is vibrant and alive and growing.

Photo by Marissa Martinson

Photo by Marissa Martinson


Before any gorgeous gem gleams in a store case, it passes through an endless number of hands that shape it, set it and market it in a way that displays its maximum beauty. Life calls for this principle in the every day—everyone needs help to be their best and live their best life. Here are the top services in Plymouth that help you get there.

Best Hairstylist/Barber
Tina Wherry, Christopher J. Salon

Just as a family stone is reset and adorned according to the current age, the passing of time calls for reinvention of all—including the cut and color of a hairstyle. Tina Wherry of Christopher J. Salon specializes in styles that listen to the current trends, while also paying homage to each natural hairstyle’s classic appeal. “My favorite part of my job is connecting with my clients,” Wherry says. “I believe that taking the time to learn a bit about them allows me to find a hairstyle that will make them look and feel great while fitting into their lifestyle.”
Runners up: Lori McCoy, Christopher J. Salon; Mike Dold

Best Financial Advisor
Great Waters Financial

Think of investing as the creation of a pearl. Naturally formed by thin layers of mother of pearl overlaying one another for a span of years, the end product can consume the entirety of an oyster’s life. Similarly, through time, small accruals can become something of value, and no one understands how to make these accruals count like Great Waters Financial. “We believe that our clients’ retirement years can be some of the happiest years of their lives,” partner Justin Halverson says. “We strive to educate and help them build a financial structure that allows them to have freedom and peace of mind throughout retirement.”
Runners up: David Stay, Thrivent Financial; John Wolkenstoffer, Ameriprise

Best Insurance Agent
Brad Kaplan of Kaplan Insurance

The concept of hidden treasure remains relevant through the ages for a reason—when you’ve acquired or created something of value, it’s human instinct to want to protect it. Knowing how exactly to do that, however, is a matter of knowledge and expertise. Kaplan Insurance has a loyal following in Plymouth, and Brad Kaplan’s leadership plays a major role in this.
Runners up: Pat Gleason, Insurance Advisors; Joe Gehlen, State Farm

Best Esthetician
Heidi Drager, Simonson’s Salon & Spa

When it comes to skincare, there’s one esthetician in town who shined brighter than the rest. Heidi Drager says her most-requested service is an eyebrow wax—for both men and women. “My clients can rely on the fact that I am constantly seeking skincare knowledge,” she says. “The beauty industry is always changing. ” The energetic Drager compares herself to a ruby: “I just love them,” she says, “and they are not as flashy as a diamond, but just as impressive.”
Runners up: Alysia Margo, Simonson’s; Chelsea, Life Time Fitness Spa

Photo by Marissa Martinson

Photo by Marissa Martinson

Best Law Firm
WieseLaw Contract Studio

In a world where nothing is written in stone, it doesn’t hurt to push for what you want. WieseLaw Contract Studio is beloved and renowned among Plymouth residents for encouraging clients to do this very thing, while also providing creative approaches and savvy to seal the deal. Attorney Thomas J. Brown Wiese describes the service approach: “We believe the value of your business (and your life) is the sum total of its deals,” he says. “So we do great deals so that our clients have better lives.”
Runners up: Daniels and Kibort, PLLC; Brutlag, Hartmann and Trucke, P.A.

Best Salon/Spa
Simonson’s Salon & Spa

The mantra by which Simonson’s Salon & Spa operates is “experience perpetual renewal,” owner Kyle Simonson says, and this meshes perfectly with her personal motto, “Thoughts create beliefs that manifest reality.” Luckily for us, her thoughts tap into that perpetual renewal, because Plymouth has been enjoying that Simonson’s experience since 2004. “I’m a perpetual student of life with an insatiable appetite for knowledge,” Simonson says. “In every undertaking, I instinctively look for what’s right while simultaneously considering what can be done to make it better. The expression ‘good enough’ is like nails on the chalkboard in my world.”
Runners up: Christopher J Salon, New Reflections

Here are some winners that push the envelope on what it means to be outstanding in their field. They go the extra mile to deliver service and the experiences we all strive to capture. They can tell you what they set out to accomplish. It’s mostly to affect some kind of change or deliver the best care possible. You’ve made our lives at home infinitely better with your endeavors. Thank you!

Best Preschool / Childcare
Primrose School of Maple Grove
The Balanced Learning curriculum at Primrose School focuses on individual learning for each age level. Owner Joe Pitek began the school eight years ago after seeking childcare for his own children. “The focus at Primrose is always on the family connection,” he says. Monthly events include potlucks and holiday-themed gatherings. In May, the school holds their annual Spring Fling Carnival, open to the public, with games, food and a silent auction. Primrose School of Maple Grove, 6975 Wedgewood Road N.; 763.494.4330;
Runners up: Step by Step Montessori, New Horizon Academy

Best Learning / Tutoring Center
Learning Rx
Learning Rx focuses on development of mental skills, utilizing a one-on-one brain-training program that teaches critical skills for lifelong success. “We have graduated over 400 people, and work with ages 5 to 64,” says Pam Hendel, assistant director. Through processing skills, and long and short term memory skills, Learning Rx, in its six years, has helped those with autism spectrum disorders, brain injuries and ADHD, as well as help prepare students for college entrance exams. Learning Rx , 7270 Forestview Lane N.; 763.746.5850;
Runners up: Mathnasium, Sylvan Learning

Editor’s Pick: Best Jr. High Teacher
Cheri Meyer, Physical Education teacher at Maple Grove middle school

Meyer has been dedicated to teaching health and physical education for many years in our district. “She writes grants and advocates for students relentlessly,” says principal Lisa Hartman. “Students speak so highly of her loving, caring approach to them as young adults and she cares for the total child—academic, social, physical growth and wellness.”

Mrs. Meyer makes me want to have a child in junior high all over again. And for you parents out there, you know that’s saying a lot. If you had her as a teacher, you know what I’m pointing at on this one. If you have kids on their way to Maple Grove Middle School, count yourself blessed.

Photo by marissa martinson

Best Doggy Daycare / Kennel
Adogo Pet Hotel
Looking for a place where your pet feels at home when away from home? At Adogo, your Fido will find friends, fun and great exercise. Area pooches may have been voting in this category too! Adogo Pet Hotel, 7400 Kirkwood Court; 763.951.2220;
Runners up: All Seasons Canine Country Club, Animal Wellness Center

Best Veterinary Clinic
Animal Wellness Center
Dr. Carolyn Apker and her fellow veterinarians are always a fave in this category. Congrats ladies! Animal Wellness Center, 7000 E. Fish Lake Road; 763.420.7958;
Runners up: Heritage Animal Hospital, North Paws Veterinary Clinic

Photo courtesy of adogo pet hotel

Best Place to Spoil Your Pet
Chuck & Don’s Pet Food
When it comes to one-of-a-kind, Chuck & Don’s is a boutique in a sea of big box pet supply places. It’s a superb place to spoil your pet again and again, and have fun doing it. Chuck & Don’s Pet Food, 8115 Wedgewood Lane; 763.416.4877;
Runners up: Adogo Pet Hotel, Animal Wellness Center

Best Place for Kids Activities
Maple Grove Community Center
Birthday parties become something special here, whether it’s basic swimming and romping through the Maple Maze indoor playground, or a themed party for princesses or super heroes. With a Teen Room full of game tables, an ice skating oval, outdoor sand volleyball courts, and a big gymnasium, kids of all sizes and ages can let off steam, meet up with friends and have a great time in a safe environment. Maple Grove Community Center, 12951 Weaver Lake Road; 763.494.6500;
Runners up: The Dance Complex, World TaeKwonDo Academy

Editor’s Pick: Best Bet for a Snowy Day with the Family
Winter Recreation Area at Elm Creek Park Reserve

Elm Creek’s recreation area features a lighted tubing hill with an easy-to-use lift. And, it’s open even during the warmest of winters (read 2015-16) because they have a snowmaking machine. It’s like magic! The beginner-level downhill ski and snowboard hill make testing out the sport actually doable while the hotdoggers enjoy a more challenging course within eye shot, providing ample example of what is possible while standing on a small piece of curved wood.

With nearly 18 kilometers of cross-country ski trails, Elm Creek stands out among other facilities for its beautiful design and accessible nature. Your family (and friends) can easily spend from morning ‘till after nightfall having fun while barely noticing the cold. However, if they do feel the chill, they can grab a hot cocoa and warm their toes next to the fireplace in the chalet. Best of all, you don’t have to own a pile of equipment to enjoy winter sports here. The chalet offers rentals for anything you may need. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a snowy winter day.

Photo by derek j. dickinson/three rivers park district


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