Best Antique Store ~ tied
Readers Choice: Featherstone Square Antique Mall
Size sets Featherstone apart from other antique stores, with more than 30,000 square feet and more than 100 dealers. Most people come in and they dont realize how big our store is. You definitely need to give yourself time. An afternoon is barely enough, says Eleanor MacGregor. There are so many nooks and crannies tucked away, you cant be rushed.
Readers Choice: Nice & Fleazy
Antique stores come and go. North Beachs Nice & Fleazy endures. The reasons?
We are open more hours than other antique stores. Its a real antique store. We dont have reproductions or crafts, said owner Dale Thomas.
Youll find Roseville pottery, crockery, furniture, textiles, collectibles and Maxfield Parrish prints. Whats more, if youve failed at sharks tooth hunting, you can buy the big one at Nice & Fleazy.
Editors Choice: Southern Maryland Antiques
The variety of dealers with an eclectic array ranging from decoys to quilts is what we like about Southern Maryland Antiques. Owners Jackie and Ron Smith pride themselves on offering unique quality antiques at their Huntingtown store. We have a good group of people here who complement each other and take pride in their work, says Jackie Smith.
For example, she says, we have a school teacher-antiquer who finds really nice kitchen items like hand-painted mixing bowls or unique salt and pepper shakers. Then shell paint a sideboard and put it all together for one presentation.
Now and again, Jackie and her dealers set up entertaining themes. One year, we had a mens hunting dinner table with hand-carved decoys and feathers, says Smith. Another year we used oyster shells as place card holders. We try and experiment to show customers that they can be creative.
This weekend, youll find bargains galore at the annual three-day Labor Day Sale.
Readers Choice: Borders
If reading is fundamental, then Bay Weekly readers choice for best bookstore must be fundamentally good.
But what makes Borders more popular than all the others in Chesapeake Country?
Our customer service [covering phone Im on the phone, shut up, Ill be with you in a minute] standards are what we pride ourselves on. We try to make contact with every customer and meet their needs whether its asking where the bathroom is or looking for a copy of Hamlet, said a staffer.
Editors Choice: Hard Bean Cafe
Youve stepped back in time to a place where bookstores are independent and quaint. Bookshelves line the walls from floor to ceiling. As you wander through the stacks browsing for that certain book, you can feel the uneven wood floor beneath your feet.
Hard Bean Cafe has books for everyone. For kids, itll have the latest Harry Potter. The store itself might even make kids believe they are preparing for a trip to Hogwarts. Hard bean also shows the work of local artists and brings in local authors to read and sign their books.
Best Coffee House
Readers Choice: City Dock Cafe
What sets the City Dock Cafe apart from the other coffee houses? Its the customers, according to owner Steve Duffy.
Its also friendly service, so that you hear a joke or congratulations on the arrival of a new baby. City Dock Cafe also practices the 70/70 rule, which means that the staff knows 70 percent of all the customers and 70 percent of their drinks. Duffy wants every new customer who walks in the door to be treated as a regular. Everyone is welcome.
Editors Choice: Common Grounds
We were coffee drinkers who thought Starbucks has done most of America a service until the chain moved into the front yard of the independent coffee house thats made Prince Frederick an oasis in a desert of weak coffee.
We spend our Calvert coffee dollar in Chapline Place at Common Grounds. Not only do the four local owners give us good things to eat and drink in a range from strong to sweet to frothy. Theres cushy seating indoors and patio seating outdoors and a friendly ambiance that encourages us to slow down at least until the buzz hits.
Owners Kim and Pat Bresnahan and Kathy and Rob Link have made Common Grounds all that its name implies: a gathering spot for people, pleasures and ideas. Weve listened in on the Friday night blues jam under the lighthouse model in the commons while sipping Common Grounds treats along with all the other babies, kids, parents and grandparents. Thank you, Common Grounds.
Best Gift Shop ~ tied
Readers Choice: Sentimental Fools
Its personal service to each customer that sets Sentimental Fools and its unique gifts apart, says manager Patty Lewis. It smells so good in here, customers say, as soon as they walk in the door. Or, Im so stressed I have to come in and hug one of your bears. Youll experience pure enjoyment at Sentimental Fools. Its fun and relaxing, the way shopping should be.
Readers Choice: Fairy Tales
Its like walking into a fairy tale. There are fairies on trees. It makes you feel like youre in a fantasy world, said Fairy Tales owner Michelle Micklos. Customers say that there is no other store in Chesapeake Country like it, according to Micklos.
Come in and buy gifts for any age or something for home, invites Micklos. Dont take our word for it. Explore fairyland for yourself.
Editors Choice: Bayhill Market
Theres more than owner Chuck Ruttkays good tastes that draws us to his pair of Chesapeake Beach stores, Bayhill Accents and Bayhill Market, which are now being consolidated in the larger Market. Were always glad to step inside to taste tempting treats and to browse the artful objects hes collected. Gourmet nibblers abound, but were most tempted by his whimsical accouterments to southern living, from Bay-themed goodies to palmy island furniture. And each Christmas is time to add a new ornament from his collection to ours. But what we like best is how Rutkay, an architect, has invested in the Chesapeake Beach community, bringing old buildings into new use and enriching our shared experience with places good to look at and be in.
Readers Choice: Whole Foods Market
As the only certified organic market in the country, its no wonder Whole Foods has the best produce in town.
We also offer the largest selection in the area, including hard to-find items such as Lemongrass and Kafir limes, a product of Thailand, says Diana Evans-Love, marketing director at the Annapolis location.
These pesticide-free edibles are blemish-free, plump and juicy, ripe and robust, in any season. For the conscientious consumer, Whole Foods supports small, local farmers, avoiding middlemen and bringing fresher produce to the store.
Fresh mangoes, papayas and juicy peaches, a rainbow assortment of berries, tomatoes in every size and shape and greens of nearly every variety thats what makes Whole Foods Market Bay Weeklys readers choice for produce for three years running.
Editors Choice: Any Farmers Market
Summer fruits and vegetables taste as good as your memories tell you they should. Tomatoes burst with sweetly acidic flavor, corn is sweet, cantaloupes perfume an entire room. As surely as it brings those delights, summer brings out farmers to sell you their bounty.
Even as southern Marylands farmland decreases, the number of farmers who grow and sell to you is up. Theyre tobacco farmers and row-crop farmers whove turned to table crops because a bushel of sweet corn brings better money than a bushel of field corn. Theyre retirees living a dream that nourished their working years. Theyre former farm-family folk or claustrophobic urbanites wanting to return to the land.
With farms so small usually less than 10 acres under cultivation table farmers are hard pressed to vie with the big commercial growers and shippers who sell wholesale at Jessup. Farmers markets give them a way to compete, and at most farmers markets only local growers are allowed.
For you and me, that means what we eat tonight was picked today, as it ripened from a neighbors farm. By buying local, we eat, each in its own season, the freshest, sweetest, most nourishing fruits, vegetables, eggs and sometimes meat that money can buy. By supporting our local farmers, we help our rural economy thrive and our world stay green.
Best Record Store
Readers and Editors Choice: Tower Records
Winning all the hardware this year for best record store is Tower Records. This tower of power in Chesapeake Country must have a secret for its success.
Our selection, coupled with our customer service, make for a pleasant shopping experience. Besides being a record store, we have video and a full newsstand, said Towers Brad Ripplinger.
So, if youre looking for that rare B-side track by Flock of Seagulls or that Elvis tune going through your head, according to Bay Weekly readers and editors, this is the place.
Readers Choice: Alexanders of Annapolis Salon & Day Spa
Our customers come first, and they regularly tell us that they love our services and that we have a very friendly staff, says Alexander of Alexanders of Annapolis, the spa readers say makes them feel that theyve come someplace special and may indeed come out looking something special.
The vote of confidence comes in part from Alexanders pleasant atmosphere during services and while waiting. Another part comes from attention. We listen carefully so that we can provide a style or haircut that theyll really love, says Alexander.
Another part is skill. To that end, Alexander says, We are constantly educating our staff whether it be with the latest styles and trends in hair or makeup or with the latest in wellness treatments such as therapeutic massage or our latest, ear candleling.
New clients are promised a warm and friendly greeting, followed by a full tour. Next comes a thorough consultation on your wants and needs, plus whether there are any health issues or personal preferences.
Ultimately, Alexander says, new customers as well as our current clients should expect to leave our salon very pleased with the final result. Thats why most of our clients book their next appointment before leaving.
Alexanders is also active in its community, especially in such charity events as the SPCA Walk for the Animals.
Editors Choice: Feeling good and feeling good about yourself, thats what its all about. Some of us like a small boutique salon where the owner personally handles every customer. Others prefer a large, full-service salon that offers body treatments in addition to hair, skin and nails. In the end, its not so important where you go or who your stylist is but that you take the time for yourself. The best salon is the one that takes you as you are and makes the best of you.
Best Bar ~ tied
Readers Choice: Happy Harbor
At Happy Harbors friendly bar, you can always count on the bartenders having your beer up when you walk in. Its just that type of place. If we see you coming from the parking lot, your drink will be waiting for you, says owner Barbara Sturgell. Happy Harbor is a place where the neighborhood meets and people know you by your first name. You never know if you will be sitting next to some big cheese from Washington or Annapolis or a fisherman whos just brought in his catch. With Happy Harbors eclectic array of customers, theres no reason why anybody wouldnt feel welcome. Readers thought that combination was worth voting for.
Readers Choice: Middleton Tavern
Bay Weekly readers chose Middleton Tavern Best Bar on the Bay for the friendliness of both the people who work there and the people who go there.
Its all the comforts of home, says Middletons Linda Shellem. Sitting at the bar you meet all sorts of nice, interesting people. And in the winter, weve got a nice fireplace going. Bartenders are old hands and, says Shellem, great fun people.
Other popular features are the Taverns own Samuel Middleton ale; regular bar specials, including new recipes for martinis and margaritas; and nightly entertainment. Were open 365 days a year, Shellem says. If theres a blizzard, the bars still open and were rockin.
Editors Choice: King of France Tavern
One of the best-kept secrets among the tourist traps, Irish pubs and crab houses is a piece of traditional ambiance mixed with historical charm the King of France Tavern, named after the host of the party where the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, making the United States of America an independent and sovereign nation from England.
At the top of Main Street in Annapolis, at Church Circle, is the Maryland Inn and Treaty of Paris restaurant. However, if you look closely youll find an English-style tavern nestled below ground that puts you at ease. If youre lucky, squeeze your friends and family into the back alcove for a semi-private party. With windows to the street, you can people watch while imbibing. Cheers.
Readers Choice: Karen Sturgell, Happy Harbor
When Karen Sturgells behind the bar at Happy Harbor, she has her eyes on both the bar and the dining room at all times. Shes the backbone behind this place. Shes been working here since she was 12 and honestly, I could not run the place without her, says owner and mother Barbara Sturgell. Karens never met a stranger, and shell soon remember your name and your drink of choice. Readers believe thats what it takes to be the best bartender on the Bay.
Editors Choice: Joe Williams, Pirates Cove
You wont find a friendlier face or smile than what awaits you at the bar at Pirates Cove. Joe Williams makes everyone feel at home.
I love my job and the people. You take care of them, and they take care of you, said Joe Williams, who has been bartender at Pirates Cove for 39 years. Everything I own is from what Ive received from people,
Find Joe behind the bar on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays.
Readers Choice: Nordstrom
New shoppers should know that Nordstrom stresses service all the way to its restrooms. We have an in-store crew that cleans about every hour, says Nordstrom acting manager Cheryl Behringer.
Bay Weekly readers say thats why they like Nordstroms bathrooms best. They also praise the family restroom and the ladies sitting room.
Editors Choice: Annmarie Garden
How did Annmarie Gardens restrooms become works of art?
Hundreds of tile scraps adorn the Calvert County sculpture gardens restrooms. The story goes that a local tiler was going to show volunteers and staff how to grout but got so interested that he stayed for the whole project. The walls are all abstract in blues, greens and grays of different patterns and shapes. Each stall is different and colorful.
People say its the most beautiful restroom theyve ever seen.
to the top
Readers Choice: City Dock
For the third year in a row, Annapolis City Dock has the dubious distinction of having never a pleasant subject to discuss the worst restrooms in Chesapeake Country. Its not funny. If it were, it would give new meaning to the phrase bathroom humor.
We really took the Bay Weekly readers evaluation to heart, said Annapolis Mayor, Ellen O. Moyer. I asked our central services director, Emory Harrison, to make it his personal priority to see that our public restrooms are always as clean and well maintained as any you would find at home.
Moyer added, Obviously, that is a tall order for a facility that receives so much use so many hours a day, but I believe we have improved tremendously and will continue to do so.
Editors Choice: Toys R Us
For a company making its fortune off the backs of children, we were horrified at the state of the restrooms during a recent visit to Toys R Us. Yes, both the mens and womens restrooms offer a fold-down changing table but the plastic apparatus was so unstable it could have collapsed under the weight of a newborn, let alone a toddler suffering from an accident.
And, mercy, the floors! Weve heard of people laying tissue paper across a toilet seat, but here we would have felt better with enough tissue to cover the entire floor! Sadly, though, that was impossible given the overall lack of T.P.
Evidently, given the missing tissue, the overflowing trash can, the black-stained sinks the general filth Toys R Us is concerned with more than our creature comforts.