Food and Restaurants
Best Patio Dining
The Sunshine Factory Bar & Grill
Runners up: Rock Elm Tavern, Jake’s City Grille
The Sunshine Factory Bar & Grill
Runners up: Rock Elm Tavern, Jake’s City Grille
The Sunshine Factory Bar & Grill
Runners up: Rock Elm Tavern, Lucky’s 13 Pub
The Original Pancake House
Runners up: Fat Nat’s Eggs – New Hope, Peg’s Countryside Café
Editor's Pick: Taste of Summer
Try these seasonal food and drink pairings at Sunshine Factory.
Summer is in full swing and April Hanson, partner at Sunshine Factory Bar and Grill, has some good suggestions for food and drink pairings. “People try to eat a little healthier in the summer—nobody wants anything real heavy,” she says. Her first suggestion is the Tex-Mex salad bowl. It’s a blend of black beans, corn, avocado, cheese, pico de gallo, rice, tortilla strips and Sriracha ranch dressing, topped with Cajun shrimp or southwest grilled chicken. Assistant general manager Brian Hanson recommends pairing the Tex-Mex salad with Blue Moon on tap. A lighter beer with a citrus fusion, Blue Moon is a great match for the salad’s Mexican flavors.
Another selection, for those looking for a light option this season, are the shrimp skewers from the “healthy options” section of the menu. With roasted vegetables, pineapple salsa and rice, the flavorful skewers pair well with a Sauvignon Blanc. “The Kim Crawford has some aromatic lime and herbal notes, along with citrus, which goes very well with seafood,” Brian says.
Sometimes hot weather just calls for a refreshing salad, and the chicken raspberry salad fits the bill. Featuring grilled chicken breast on mixed greens, along with fresh fruit, black olives, green onions and tomatoes, this salad is topped with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Try it with St. Gabriel Riesling, which has a sweeter tone to complement the fruit in the salad.
Health and Wellness
Simonson’s Salon & Spa
Runners up: LifeSpa at Life Time Fitness, Gr8 Skin
Indulgence reaches new heights at Simonson’s.
Imagine an entire day at the spa, pampering yourself with all your favorite treatments. What would your ideal spa day include? Melissa Matthews, marketing and media coordinator for Simonson’s, gave us an idea for a perfect spa schedule—the salon’s “Cleopatra” package, which includes three relaxing treatments and a gift.
The Cleopatra spa journey begins with Simonson’s new-this-year Luxe Body Revive, which Matthews calls a “facial for your body.” The treatment uses black mulberry extract and essential oil to exfoliate, detoxify and hydrate the skin. Matthews notes all products are organically sourced, gluten-free, vegan, and free of pesticides, parabens, GMOs, dyes, formaldehyde and mineral oil.
Next up are the Luxe manicure and pedicure. The manicure starts with a sugar scrub exfoliation followed by a mud mask and then a massage. Personalize the manicure by choosing green tea or vitamin recharge—the green tea detox reduces dryness and prevents premature aging, and the vitamin recharge uses vitamin C to revitalize your hands and fight free radical damage. Of course, choosing your color is a key step.
The pedicure kicks off with a salt soak, followed by a sugar scrub, mud mask and then massage. Simonson’s offers a cucumber pedicure to soothe and soften skin, or a lavender option with aromatherapy. Again, pick your favorite polish color to complete.
If you want to try an even more in-depth spa day, Matthews recommends the “Diva for a Day” package, which extends over five to six hours and includes full hair, face, body and nail treatment. There’s also a spa package designed for men called the “6-Pack Play Spa” with a haircut, facial, manicure and pedicure, 55-minute massage and spa gift.
Simonson’s Salon and Spa
Runners up: New Reflections, The Hair District
Best Fitness Studio
Runners: Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping, Yogamn
Best Dental Practice
Smile Design Dentistry
Runners up: Boger Dental, Park Dental
Best Orthodontic Practice
Runners up: Kottemann Orthodontics, Harrington Orthodontics
Best Chiropractic Practice
Lake West Chiropractic and Natural Health
Runners up: The Joint, Northern Edge Chiropractic
Best Pediatric Practice
Partners in Pediatrics - Plymouth Clinic
Runners up: Park Nicollet Clinic – Plymouth, Wayzata Children’s Clinic
Best Eye Practice
Northwest Eye Clinic – Wayzata
Runners up: Plymouth Vision Center, Kennedy Vision Health Center
Best Dermatology Practice
Runners up: Park Nicollet Clinic, Zel Skin & Laser Specialists
Home and Garden
Best Interior Designer
Runners up: Lori Bergeron (Bergeron Homes), Jayne Morrison Interiors
Best Nursery/Garden Center
Dundee Nursery & Landscaping
Runners up: Bachman’s Floral and Garden Center, Gregor Farm & Greenhouse
Best Landscape Designer
Dundee Nursery & Landscaping
Runners up: Bachman’s Floral and Garden Center, David’s Lawn Service
Editor's Pick: Green Grass
Keep your lawn healthy all year with tips from Dundee Nursery.
John Henning, buyer for Dundee, shares some specific actions for homeowners who want to keep their grass looking its best. First, and most important, is watering. “The best thing to do for your lawn is a good, heavy watering once a week,” Henning says. This heavy watering—a little over an inch at a time, ideally—is better than frequent, shallow watering. Fertilizing is the next thing to consider: Aim for three fertilizations per year, once in the spring and twice in the fall.
Compaction can cause problems for grass, so if you drive your car onto the lawn or have a heavy lawnmower, be sure to aerate in the fall. “It’s all about the roots,” Henning says. “If they’re not breathing and drinking water up, the rest of the lawn doesn’t keep growing well.” Finally, take care of weeds with a spot spray rather than a broadcast spray over the whole lawn, because broad-leaf weed killers typically only kill what they touch.
If a problem crops up, like a fungus starting to grow, you must determine whether it’s a temporary issue or something more detrimental. An online search can help, but you can also bring a sample into Dundee for help diagnosing the situation, Henning says.
Runners up: Pillar Homes Partner, Gonyea Homes & Remodeling
Gonyea Homes & Remodeling
Runners up: J Brothers Home Improvement, Bergeron Homes & Development
Best Home Furnishing Store
Runners up: Schneiderman’s Furniture, Becker Furniture
Best Senior Living Residence
Runners up: The Waters of Plymouth, Cornerstone Commons
Kids and Families and Pets
Editor's Pick: Fight Summer Brain Drain
Keep kids sharp while school’s out with these ideas from Huntington Learning Center.
Reading is the simplest and best way to keep kids’ brains engaged in learning throughout the summer. “It’s important that the material be enjoyable and at the appropriate skill level for each child,” operations manager Lane Rossiter says. Kids can read on their own, but if they need more structure, Huntington has a reading program kids can join. They sign up and set a goal for a number of books to read over the summer, based on grade level and reading level, and go to the learning center to fill out journals about the books they read.
Let kids choose the books they read, as long as they’re at an appropriate skill level. “Get kids excited about reading and get them to focus on books they enjoy reading,” Rossiter says. The best way to engage students is to keep the learning fun, so in the Huntington program, kids enter their names in drawings for motivation along the way and celebrate with a party at the end of summer.
Summertime math can be fun, too. Introduce games as a family activity rather than focusing on their math-boosting qualities. For kids 6 and older, try 4-Way Countdown. This dice game challenges your addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills, and can be tailored to a kid’s skill level. Skip-Bo and flash cards are also good options for sharpening math skills, and Legos are great for developing organization of thought and planning.
The big takeaway from Rossiter’s tips is to make learning activities light and enjoyable. “The more you can disguise learning as fun, the more successful it’ll be,” she says.
Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel
Camp Bow Wow
Runners up: Adogo Pet Hotel – Ridgedale, PupTown LLC
Best Veterinary Practice
Rockford Road Animal Hospital
Runners up: Northwest Animal Hospital, Plymouth Heights Pet Hospital
Best Law Firm
WieseLaw Contract Studio
Runners up: Parker Daniels Kibort LLC, Howse & Thompson, P.A.
Best Learning/Tutoring Center
Huntington Learning Center
Runners up: Mathnasium, College Nannies + Tutors – Wayzata
The Goddard School
Runners up: Wayzata Early Learning School/Peppermint Fence, Bloom Early Learning & Child Care
Best Place for Kids' Activities
Runners up: InnerActive – Minnetonka, Just for Kix – Medina
Shops and Retail
Bachman’s Floral and Garden Center
Runners up: Dundee Nursery and Landscaping, Candlelight Floral
Best Gift Shop
Patina - Golden Valley
Runners up: Bachman’s Floral and Garden Center, Art 2 Heart
Best Apparel Boutique
Runners up: Urban Eve, Mainstream Boutique - Maple Grove
Best Specialty Food Store
Lunds & Byerlys
Runners up: Honey & Mackie’s, Von Hanson’s Meats
Editor's Pick: Find Your Style
The Foursome has tips to help men look their best.
For sales consultants at the Foursome, the key to guiding customers toward their ideal look is getting to know them. “We don’t merely sell clothes, we build and maintain relationships,” owner Nicole Chose says. Using a record of purchases, consultants pull together outfit ideas before customers visit, with a focus on current trends and new brands.
The key to a modern wardrobe, Chose says, is properly fitting clothing. To help clients achieve this, the Foursome carries both classic and trim fits, as well as a big-and-tall department. An onsite tailor makes custom options easy, too.
It can be tricky to figure out how to incorporate trends into your wardrobe. How much is too much? Which trends fit best with your look? Chose offers this tip: Invest in quality items to build a year-round wardrobe, then supplement with a few new pieces each season. You don’t have to do it alone, though. “At the Foursome, we do the hard work for guys by hand-picking a clothing collection that is distinctive,” Chose says.
Editor's Pick: The Perfect Summer Slice
Davanni’s Southwestern Taco Pizza
My favorite pizza to get in Plymouth is Davanni’s Southwestern Taco Pizza hands down – and it’s only available for a limited time. Davanni’s began offering this specialty pizza on Cinco De Mayo and you can get it until the end of the summer.
So what’s on the pizza? You first have your choice of hamburger and onion, or chicken. It’s then topped with red sauce, fajita seasoning and a mix of mozzarella and cheddar before it’s baked in the oven. Lastly, it’s finished off with black bean and sweet corn salsa, shredded lettuce and chipotle salsa ranch drizzle. It’s recommended to get this on a thin crust.
“The crisp fresh lettuce and refreshing southwest salsa mix is a great combination for the summer months,” says Jacqui Crocker, Davanni's marketing director.
Crocker says they launch most of their newer menu items as limited time only menu items to see what our customers think and then decide. The BBQ Chicken Pizza started out as limited time only and now is on the menu.
I’m sure hoping this pizza gains more popularity and stays on the menu year round!
Editor's Pick: More Than Books
Check out the Plymouth Library’s many resources.
If you haven’t discovered Plymouth Library and its many offerings, you’re missing out on a variety of programming and services: author talks, story times, room rentals, seminars, book clubs, online resources and there’s still more. The library offers more than 100 programs during the summer with an increase of options for kids.
“As a library user, there’s something for everyone here,” says John Knauss, an adult services librarian at Plymouth Library. “Everything we offer is free which people really like. It’s a public place; people own it and invest in it.”
The library is generally bustling with people checking out books, participating in a program, studying or settling in to do some work. Remodeled in 2010, the 30,000 square foot light and airy space has more than 70 computers spread out throughout its different areas, four meeting rooms and five study rooms. With 629,156 items checked out last year, the library had the second highest circulation just behind Eden Prairie among the 41 libraries in the Hennepin County Library System.
Library card holders also have access to 170 databases online, Knauss says. These databases include e-books, audio books and downloadable music.
Editor's Pick: Want to lend a helping hand?
Westside Communities in Action is here to help.
Looking for volunteer opportunities for yourself or family? Westside Communities in Action (WCIA) makes it simple by consolidating and organizing volunteer opportunities in the western suburbs on its website. And you can search by age group, need and organization.
The nonprofit was started in 2011 by current and former Oakwood Elementary School moms who wanted to make a difference in the community through service.
“I wanted to give back to the community and I didn’t know where to start. I was frustrated and I ran into obstacles. Sometimes my calls weren’t returned,” says Tammy Orning, executive director of WCIA. “We wanted to make it easy for people with the time, energy and resources to give back.”
The group was already organizing family service nights at the school and everyone embraced the idea of WCIA right away, she says. They still assist with family service nights such as ones at Birchwood Elementary, area churches and Schumann Elementary and the Intermediate School in the Orono School District.
“Currently, we have about 60 organizations on our site right now. It ebbs and flows because we keep it current as opportunities come and go,” Orning says.
WCIA remains an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff. Funding is provided by donations from the general public to assist with costs related to administrative work and keeping the website current, and they help groups with their family service nights with stipends if needed.
New on their website is News to Use, an events section. “We add local events that are going on. It’s a great way for people who can’t volunteer on a regular basis,” she says.
WCIA also encourages people to sign up for email updates and their quarterly newsletter, where they highlight news from featured organizations on their website. You’ll also see them out in the community at events such as James J. Hill Days in Wayzata.
Editor's Pick: Barbara Willis
The driving force behind Music in Plymouth since 1972.
by Anna Nguyen
Music in Plymouth is truly a special night. More than 15,000 residents gather on the Hilde Performance Center lawn to set up picnics in the midst of roving entertainment and family activities followed by a band, the Minnesota Orchestra, fire dancers and a grand finale of spectacular fireworks.
This year, residents will be able to see performances from acts such as the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theater, The Medicine Show Music Company and Scottie Miller band before the Minnesota Orchestra takes the stage.
Leading the efforts behind this successful and festive event for 46 years is Plymouth Civic League president Barbara Willis, with the support of over 30 board members led by an executive committee and five major committee chairpersons. The PCL works year-round organizing and raising funds for the event and has two main fundraisers: a 5K run in June and wine tasting in the fall.
If the last name Willis seems familiar to you, it’s because Barbara’s husband Jim Willis became Plymouth’s first city manager in 1971. He went on to serve in the city council and is currently an at large member.
I sat down with Barbara to learn more about her and Music in Plymouth. Answers have been edited for length.
What brought you to Plymouth?
Jim was the city manager of Battle Creek, Michigan, and then he found the opportunity in Plymouth in 1971. It was an opportunity to build a city. There were no stop lights in town when we moved here. We got stuck in mud more than once periodically. It was a whole different place back then. My family had vacationed here when I was younger because we lived in Chicago, but I never thought I would move here and live here the rest of my life.
How did the PCL form?
In 1972, Mayor Al Hilde, Jr. and the Plymouth City Council formed a citizen committee, the PCL, to bring a free concert from the Minnesota Orchestra to Plymouth. He wanted to create
something that would unite the community and build some community identity. Plymouth was thought of as community divided by 494 and 55, and 4 school districts. The first concert with the Minnesota Orchestra took place in a parking lot in an industrial park. And with about 3,000 in attendance, it was quite a crowd for that day. To this day, the PCL remains a non-profit organization which annually presents the event in cooperation with the city.
What do you enjoy most about the event?
The greatest satisfaction of my involvement in the PCL for so many years is working with the very dedicated community volunteers of the Plymouth Civic League Board of Directors to bring Music in Plymouth to this city and seeing it flourish in its mission to bring unity and community spirit to Plymouth. This is evidenced by the support and growth of the attendance of the citizens of Plymouth. It is gratifying to watch the crowd enjoy the event and each other.
Music in Plymouth
Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. Fireworks take place around 10 p.m. The Minnesota Orchestra will play from 8:30-9:30 p.m.
To donate, go to the website here.
Editor's Pick: Expand Your Beer Palate
Check out Rock Elm’s extensive selection.
With a wide selection of beer, Rock Elm Tavern is the perfect place to go for an old favorite or to try something unexpected from the 30 brews on tap. And of course, the beer pairs well with the food menu which includes burgers, sandwiches and entrees such as pasta and fish.
“We keep it balanced with a wide variety of styles on tap at any time,” says Troy Reding, owner of Rock Elm Tavern. “I think we’re helping to grow the beer experience out here.”
The menu gives a nod to local breweries in the Western suburbs including Omni, Enki, Excelsior and other Minnesota breweries such as Urban Growler, Steel Toe, Bank and Surly.
Being in the craft beer industry for nine years. Reding says good relationships with distributors and breweries helps with getting one-off and specialty beers which go in their specialty tower of beers.
Here’s an idea of what you can find on Rock Elm’s menu:
Nice and Easy: lagers, pilsners, blonde ales
Gateway Beers: ambers, brown ales
Hophead’s Delight: IPAs
Some Sweet, Some Sour: ciders, sours
Tall, Dark and Handsome: Stouts, porters
Specialty tower: Smaller batched beers including those with a higher alcohol content, barrel aged or higher end
As the seasons change, the beer selection adjusts as well. In the summer, you’ll find more lighter beer on taps such as hefeweizens, Reding says. To find out what’s available, he suggests downloading the app Untappd, which features beer lists and is a way to share your love of beer with friends.
Don’t see something you like or want to make a recommendation? Talk to your bartender. Reding says the bartenders play a role in ordering the beer since they interact with customers and know what’s been popular.
*Are you one of this year's winners? Find information on how to order a plaque and other materials HERE.