When Woodbury residents voted to incorporate a major-council form of government in 1967, the population was 4,396. Fast forward 49 years to 2016, as our population is now estimated at 68,725 (and that number is always changing). Woodbury is now the largest city in Washington County and a leader not only in the east metro, but across the Twin Cities and beyond, with a Chamber of Commerce that is one of the fastest-growing in the nation.
There are so many great places, people and things that make Woodbury a special place to live and work in. For the 11th year running, we’ve turned to you, the devoted readers of Woodbury Magazine, to nominate and vote for the best our fair city has to offer. We are proud to reveal your top picks, from restaurants and medical clinics to home experts and places to shop. Sprinkled throughout this issue are six Editor’s Picks—a shout-out to some local gems outside of this year’s voting categories.
As Woodbury continues to grow and change, new restaurants, shops and services keep coming to town. This is reflected in some of this year’s winners which have been in Woodbury for less than 10 years, including Tamarack Tap Room, The Tavern Grill, Patina, Pet Evolution, Learning Rx and Total Wine. On the other side of the coin, many winners have a longstanding presence in Woodbury.
In 1981, Central Pediatrics opened its doors at 1937 Woodlane Drive with just 2 to 3 doctors seeing patients. “Back in 1979 and 1980, before opening in Woodbury, some of the physicians were concerned about opening an office there because, at the time, it was an unsettled area,” says Lisa Collins, Central Pediatrics marketing representative. “We now have 14 physicians that regularly see patients at our Woodbury clinic [a brand-new facility on Tamarack Road] which also includes our urgent care clinic, Priority Pediatrics, open evenings and weekends, seven days a week.”
There’s also the story of Dorothy Ann Bakery and Café, which originated on St. Paul’s East 7th Street before migrating east to Sun Ray Shopping Center in 1962. In 1988, Dorothy Ann opened in Woodbury on Weir Drive, followed by a second location at City Centre in 1993. The beloved bakery, owned by Joan and Steve Conway, made one more move in 2005 to its current location in Crossroads Commerce Center, growing and changing to meet customers’ needs while maintaining the same dedication to creating top quality bakery goods. Today’s location is where they created their popular Saturday morning breakfast buffet, as well as an expanded café menu and catering options.
Whether new or entrenched in the local landscape for many years, here are your best of the best in Woodbury—the winners and finalists who make our city truly extraordinary.
FOOD & RESTAURANTS
From a nutritional standpoint, eating three meals a day is recommended. With the vast range of fare Woodbury offers, families and foodies alike may find themselves wishing for a fourth. No matter; with the mix of classic establishments and new nosheries, Woodbury has enough food to satisfy all epicureans.
Best New Restaurant
Tamarack Tap Room
Since Tamarack Tap Room opened in 2015, it has developed a cult following for the American restaurant classic pairing: burgers and beer. Their menu features pub grub that dreams are made of, refined with modern twists. Those who are adventurous may try the spicy lamb and chorizo burger or the prosciutto and goat cheese wood-fired flatbread. “We pride ourselves in having a unique offering of both food and drinks the whole family will enjoy,” says manager Ben Berry.
Runners up: Craft Beer & Kitchen, Crave
(Alyssa Ranking serves a pomegranate Cosmo and an amaretto sour at Tamarack Tap Room; Photo by Tate Carlson)
The Tavern Grill
In the midst of a craft beer revolution, the best taverns in town are the ones that are on their brew game. The best bar in town, however, is on their brew game and also rewards you for partaking. Customers covet the Tavern Club card for this reason—any tap beer from their large selection is just $3.75, and its use gains patrons points toward their next. “The ambiance of our bar is warm and welcoming . . . whether you’re joining us for happy hour with friends or for an intimate dinner,” says manager Naomi Bard.
Runners up: O’Malley’s Irish Pub, Craft Beer & Kitchen
Best Patio Dining
It may be a surprise that the restaurant voted “Best Patio Dining” is at the corner of two of the city’s busiest roads. Angelina’s Kitchen, an Italian restaurant and wine bar, boasts a large overhead terrace with sprawling greenery that makes patrons feel as through they may be in the mother country. To keep the theme alive, owner Angela Verrastro suggests the perfectly textured eggplant parmesan. “It is an authentic Sicilian preparation and one of Grandma Angelina’s recipes,” she says.
Runners up: Craft Beer & Kitchen, Tamarack Tap Room
(Some of the fresh, handmade choices offered at Angelina's Kitchen; Photo by Emily J. Davis)
Dorothy Ann Bakery & Cafe
Dorothy Ann’s is a staple of Woodbury, so it’s no surprise it has been crowned in this category for four of the past five years. Residents are devoted to their donuts, but what is their best-kept secret? According to owner Joan Conway, the traditional polish Paczki is a must-try. Think jelly donut, but upgraded: This pastry has a dense, doughy shell that pockets a fresh fruit filling. “It is traditionally made before Lent when people fast; however they are in such high demand we also make them every Friday year-round,” Conway says.
Runners up: Nadia Cakes, Keys Café & Bakery
Keys Cafe´& Bakery
In the competitive restaurant world, to be open for 10 years makes a business renowned and revered. To be open 20 years makes a restaurant royalty. That’s exactly what Keys is. Breakfast-goers gush over their homemade cinnamon French toast, and the Keys original omelet that seems to feature the entire contents of a fridge—and then some. But general manager Amy Mulholland invites Woodbury residents to take their lunch menu for a spin as well. “People might be surprised at the quality of our Reuben sandwich; we don’t use deli-sliced corned beef—we have the real deal, corned beef brined and cooked onsite served with homemade Thousand Island dressing."
Runners up: Woodbury Café, Ze’s Diner
Editor's Pick: Best Salad Bar
Lunds & Byerlys
The salad bar concept has exploded into interesting and healthy discoveries. While we have many excellent choices around Woodbury, my nod goes to the spectacular salad bar at Lunds & Byerlys. The woman behind this creation is Bea James, director of bakery and nourish. We touched base with her for more insight on what goes into this cornucopia of fresh, nutritious and wholesome offerings.
How many different items are on the salad bar?
We have up to 50 items including all of our toppings and boosts. Boosts are nutrient-dense foods that you can sprinkle on top of your salad for added nutrition, such as chia seeds, wheat germ, nutritional yeast and flax.
What’s the preparation process for the salad bar?
A salad bar superstar is selected to set up and prepare all the items each morning, starting around 5 a.m. They have a lot to do with prepping all the vegetables, roasting items, composing salads such as our strawberry spinach salad and iceberg blue wedges, and filling all the containers so everything is fresh by 9 a.m. It’s an early morning job that takes attention to detail and multitasking. The salad bar superstar takes a lot of pride in doing an excellent job, and it shows.
While it’s true that home is where the heart is, it doesn’t hurt to invest in creating a home that makes hearts sing. After all, our home is the stage that holds our most cherished family memories and the touch point in the midst of often chaotic schedules. So feel free to delight in designs and invest in important services when it comes to homes, Woodbury businesses know best.
For half a decade, Ispiri has been selected as Woodbury’s Best Builder/Remodeler. Ironically, this strong legacy is possible through the force behind the group’s namesake: Inspiration. Fresh ideas and innovative use of materials make a strong visual case for Ispiri, while CEO Jason Fabio credits the attention to client satisfaction as the foundation that allows these ideas to have life. “When our clients are satisfied, we achieve our goals individually and as an organization,” Fabio says.
Runners up: Custom One Homes, Cardinal Homebuilders
(Jason Fabio, owner of Ispiri; Photo by Tate Carlson)
Best Home Furnishings
If it can’t be found at HOM Furniture, it likely doesn’t exist. At least, that’s what the size of this two-story showroom suggests. “Beyond the wide selection, it’s our staff, excellent value and lifelong customer-focus that make HOM exceptional,” says store manager Cameron Johnston. While everyone knows HOM for furniture, Johnston points to lesser-known selections including hardwood, laminate flooring options, outdoor living options and the bargain shop as must-shop sections. 7600 Hudson Road; 651.730.5000;
Runners up: Schneiderman’s Furniture; Merriment
Best Interior Designer
Interior Impressions has found a vast niche—everything from decorating and accessorizing to designing custom-built new homes. If it involves home and design, they’re on it. “We are unlike many other design firms in that we take a very practical, affordable approach to design,” says owner Amy Leferink. “It takes more talent and creativity to design and decorate a home with a more limited budget.” And Interior Impressions lacks no creativity: This team of four thrives on marrying textures, patterns and styles to create finishes that maintain a modern look without indulging in passing trends.
Runners up: Pomegranate Designs, Shasha Interiors
Best Landscape Designer/Architect
Warner’s Outdoor Solutions
If the business name “Outdoor Solutions” sounds all-encompassing, that could be because Warner’s covers the full gamut: lawn care, landscaping, trees and shrubs, sprinkler systems, pet control and winter services. “We are experts in what we do and it shows on our customers’ properties,” says owner and president Ryan Warner. For Warner, providing top-notch service is more than business; it’s personal, as he is a Woodbury High School graduate and is now raising a family in Woodbury. “I love this city and do my best to keep it one of the best cities to live in,” Warner says.
Runners up: Heins Nursery, Landscapes Unlimited
Best Home Service
A.J. Alberts Plumbing
Plumbing problems hold two characteristics that don’t pair well: highly disruptive, and somewhat inevitable. Luckily, Woodbury has found a hero in A.J. Alberts Plumbing, a local, family-owned and operated company that is always on-call to restore order. Founded in 1989, owners Jim and Sue Alberts operated the business out of their Woodbury home until expanding to a space in South St. Paul. In 2006, they moved to their current Woodbury facility which includes a designer showroom. The company takes pride in being local. “We strive to be a good neighbor,” says Jim Alberts. “We are committed to giving back to the community in which we live and work.”
Runners up: S & R Heating, Cooling & Appliance Repair, Warner’s Outdoor Solutions
(Jim Alberts, owner and Megan Dent, designer, of A.J. Alberts Plumbing; Photo by Tate Carlson)
Best Senior Living Residence
For the second year, Stonecrest has been chosen as the top community for seniors among Woodbury residents. The residence’s convenient central Woodbury location adds to its appeal. “Our skywalk connection to the YMCA, R.H. Stafford Library and Central Park really sets us apart as well,” says housing counselor Marianne Niemi. The transition to assisted living can be difficult for seniors and their families, and Stonecrest offers a range of programs and support to make sure the next chapter is just as good, or better, than the one that preceded.
Runners up: Woodbury Senior Living, Red Rock Senior Living of Woodbury
Editor's Pick: Best Act of Community Service
Woodbury Feeds/Feed My Starving Children Mobile Pack
Hats off to Woodbury, host of last October’s amazing Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) mega mobile pack, the largest ever to take place under one roof in the United States. The community came together to pack 4,066,416 meals for hungry people around the world, with a portion of the funds raised—$50,000—going to the local Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf to fight hunger here in our own community.
“For the last three years, I have been blessed to visit children’s feeding centers in communities of extreme poverty,” says Lisa Engh, co-chair of Woodbury’s mobile pack. “These centers receive food from FMSC, and I have seen the difference the specially-formulated meals make. Kids who were severely malnourished are growing, their cheeks are full, their eyes clear, and their smiles bright. These meals save lives. These meals bring hope to communities across the globe.”
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Wellness has become a nationwide initiative, and Woodbury is no exception in this movement to build a healthy, balanced lifestyle. From yoga studios that help residents get their Zen on (while also getting a killer workout) and chiropractors’ offices that encourage weekly walk in-adjustments, the city is brimming with businesses that make this lifestyle not only desirable, but obtainable.
Best Pediatric Clinic
Central Pediatrics & Priority Pediatrics
When it comes to healthcare for children, the service has to be quality and it has to be convenient. Central Pediatrics & Priority Pediatrics fulfills both of these wishes with their new Tamarack Road location, walk-ins 7 days a week, and board-certified pediatricians that provide excellent care. “When we ask new patients how they heard about us, almost all of them say that someone they know well and trust recommended us,” says marketing representative Lisa Collins. “Our reputation for high quality patient care has become our legacy, and we’re proud to combine that with the modern features that today’s families are looking for.”
Runners up: HealthEast Woodbury, Allina Medical Clinic
(Five of the 14 physicians of Central Pediatrics and Priority Pediatrics: Dr. Christine Huberty, Dr. Daniel Khoury, Dr. Catherine Crosby-Schmidt, Dr. Laurel Anderson, Dr. Carrie Pettey; Photo by Joel Schnell)
Best Fitness/Yoga Studio
In an age where mindfulness and “ath-leisure”-styled clothing rules, it’s no surprise that yoga studios have popped up ten-fold throughout the Twin Cities. CorePower Yoga, with its strength-building themes and class levels aimed at inclusion, has become the favorite among these studios, and Woodbury lacks no fervor. Studio manager Romy Ecker promises, “You’ll push past physical boundaries with an open mind and a beating heart, turning doubt into security, strangers into friends and stress into sweat.”
Runners up: Woodbury YMCA, UpLift Guided Fitness
Best Dental Clinic
Woodbury Dental Care
A five-star Google rating with more than 150 reviews to support it is not just uncommon these days; it’s nearly unheard of. With the expertise of dentists Kyle Edlund, Michael Pelke and Jason Thimjon, combined with the latest 3M dental products, it’s no wonder everyone wants to go to Woodbury Dental Care (including the Minnesota Wild and St. Paul Saints, too). “We provide high quality care with state-of-the-art equipment in a warm, relaxing environment,” says Sandy Hersperger, who directs marketing at the dental clinic.
Runners up: Saluté Dental, Woodbury Dental Arts
Best Orthodontic Clinic
Braces have come a long way. While children in classic braces are still prevalent, there’s a whole new world of invisible orthodontics, and children aren’t the only patients anymore. Dunn Orthodontics offers the best of this new frontier, and the staff is dedicated to making patients feel welcome. According to orthodontist Curtis Dunn, the road that leads to the straight, bright smile is what sets Dunn Orthodontics apart. “You expect great smile results, but what makes a difference is the pleasant experience along the way,” he says.
Runners up: Henseler Orthodontics, Horton Orthodontics
Best Eye Clinic
Associated Eye Care
It’s hard to understand the impact vision has on everyday activities and cognitive abilities until it is either greatly diminished or enhanced, and this middle-of-the-road vision is where most people live their everyday lives. Associated Eye Care has become the trusted partner of Woodbury families for their range that includes everything from general ophthalmology to advanced corrective procedures. “Regardless of where you or your family members are on the spectrum of life, newborns to life veterans, we have specialists on staff dedicated to your area of need,” says Phil Jackson, director of refractive services.
Runners up: St. Paul Eye Clinic, Mead EyeCare & EyeWear
Best Chiropractic Clinic
A thrown-out back is a good reason to visit the chiropractor, but ChiroWay wants Woodbury residents to know that serious back pain isn’t the only reason to stop in. “Regular chiropractic care has the potential of improving your quality of life,” says chiropractor and owner Trent Scheidecker. “By receiving regular chiropractic care, you allow your body to better adapt to the stress and demands that you encounter on a daily basis.” With no appointment necessary and an experienced staff that can adjust newborns through senior adults, ChiroWay has made a chiropractic routine accessible (and beloved) for many Woodbury residents.
Runners up: Lifeline Chiropractic, Woodbury Spine Wellness Center
(Trent and Laura Scheidecker of ChiroWay in Woodbury; Photo by Tate Carlson)
Best Dermatology Clinic
Caring for skin goes beyond vanity; it’s a form of health care that impacts the everyday quality of life. Dermatology Consultants features 20 board-certified dermatologists with expert knowledge in everything from general dermatology to dermatologic surgery. An in-house dermatopathology lab is able to provide accurate and fast diagnoses for skin conditions including cancer. “Simply put—our mission is to provide our patients with exceptional skin care in a safe and welcoming environment,” says CEO Bill Kenney.
Runners up: Advanced Dermatology Care, SkinSpeaks
Aging is inevitable, and Radiance Medspa acknowledges this. However, they do believe their offering of comprehensive cosmetic skin care services can make clients of every age look and feel better. “Together, we will create a customized plan and explain how and what you can expect from those services,” says owner Rebecca Pappas. “Your customized consultation will include information about the results and how to maintain those results at home.”
Runners up: Bella Beau Salon and Spa, Spalon Montage
Best Fitness Guru
Woodbury has a lot of super fitness enthusiasts, but Carrie Lyles is a true guru, giving guidance and inspiration to a countless number of people who have participated in one of her classes or trained with her one-on-one. Lyles, who has taught almost every format of group fitness, currently teaches Zumba and studio combo at the Woodbury YMCA, barbell strength and 50/50 cardio/strength at Life Time Fitness, and total body conditioning with various types of equipment like kettle bells/TRX/battle rope at Urban Iron Fitness; she’s also a personal trainer, on her own and at Uplift Guided Fitness. We chatted with Lyles to learn more about what inspires this energetic woman.
What keeps you going after 26 years of teaching group fitness classes?
That satisfaction of helping others. I am inspired by the people in my classes as I see significant changes on a regular basis. Not just gaining lean muscle mass and losing fat, but also increased self-confidence. There are people who start out and can’t do one pushup from the knees—now they’re doing many from the toes. It warms my heart and I am forever grateful that I get to help people become healthier.
What is the most challenging part of your career?
Right now, it’s keeping my schedule straight. Thankfully I have not shown up at the wrong gym yet!
What is your personal favorite physical activity?
When I’m not at the gym, I like to be outside rollerblading, biking and walking. I played hockey in my forties . . . I would love to play again (although it’s amazing how bad hockey gloves can smell!). I think it would be fun to participate in a warrior dash or mudder with a group of fun, hardworking people: I’m in it to win it if I go into a competition.
What are some interesting facts about you?
I like to play cards and board games with family and friends. I also like to read and have been a member of the same book club for 15 years. I love horses and horseback riding. I’ve been married for 29 years, have two sons and recently became a grandparent.
SHOPS & RETAIL
Woodbury loves to shop... Woodbury gets more stores... Woodbury loves to shop more...
It’s a chicken or the egg situation in the community, but there’s no time to ponder such things when there is so much shopping to do! From retail havens to far more than a couple of grocery stores, the city knows how to fill shopping bags. Here are the shops and stores Woodbury just can’t live without.
Best Apparel Boutique
There are no shortage of mothers in the city, making the relationship between Evereve and the community full of mutual love. “We are a store for moms,” says marketing coordinator Teri LaFrenz. “Every piece of clothing in our store was selected with moms in mind.” With a style that is decidedly un-”mom jeans” and a shopping experience that rivals hiring a personal shopper, this award is no surprise. Expect the comfort every mom on-the-go requires, with a style that has an eye on trends."
Runners up: Sisu, Mainstream Boutique
Sweet Peas Floral
“Fresh” and “floral” go hand-in-hand, so when owner Tara Carlson bought Sweet Pea Floral in 2006, the stale concept of a standard bouquet was out of the question. “We are a completely custom shop—that’s what we thrive on,” Carlson says. Whether it is a birthday, anniversary, new baby, for sympathy or for congratulations, the shop works one-on-one to make it special and always fresh.
Runners up: Woodlane Flowers, Flowers on the Park
Best Liquor Store
Though Total Wine takes home the prize for Best Liquor Store, the 30,000 square foot space would be better named “megastore”—or “wonderland” depending on who is describing it. “Our affordable selection is hard to beat, and it’s what keeps people coming back,” says store manager Syd Scherling. “Particularly, our selection of regional craft beers all in one place has been successful.”
Runners up: Top Ten Wine & Spirits, The Cellars Wine & Spirits
Best Jewelry Store
Jewelry, for the most part, is relatively impractical. This is one of few accessories worn purely for its aesthetic; its main role is to spark joy and exist in beauty. For almost 40 years, Johnson Jewelers has ensured that their pieces provide exactly that, with a carefully curated selection of diamonds and estate pieces, as well as custom pieces. “Our team is very experienced and works well together. We can help with any jewelry need,” says showroom manager Laura McDonald.
Runners up: Shane Co., La Vie Boutique
(Beautiful selections from Johnson Jewelers; Photo by Marissa Martinson)
Best Specialty Foods Store
Kowalski’s Market: entertainers rejoice in the name, foodies fawn over the selection. When it comes to finding the best specialty food in the city, the breadth and quality is unrivaled. “With the meat department, deli, sushi and imported cheese, anyone can find a number of things to create and complete a delicious spread,” says marketing director Laurie Bell. For those who don’t feel like hitting the aisles, full-service catering and home delivery becomes a busy party planner’s best friend.
Runners up: Trader Joe’s, Lunds & Byerlys
Best Gift Shop
Since Woodbury welcomed Twin Cities’ revered gift shop in October 2014, all wrapped presents are a little more exciting to open. Yet, “gift shop” hardly does justice to the beautiful offerings of Patina and also suggests shoppers won’t buy for themselves (which is highly unlikely). The shop is a wonderland of curated gifts, art, home and outdoor décor and jewelry. “Patina strives to provide an environment that is equal part inspiration and escape,” says assistant buyer Katie Curran. “Our stores are like a constantly evolving art project.”
Runners up: The Woods, La Vie Boutique
Best Grocery Store
Woodbury isn’t exactly hurting when it comes to grocery stores, so Kowalski’s repeated success in the Best of Woodbury speaks volumes to the quality offering and service it provides. Beyond the specialty departments and local brands carried, marketing director Laurie Bell suggests Kowalski’s Market’s shouldn’t be overlooked for retail either. “From beautiful fresh floral bouquets to a great selection of locally-made cards and gifts, it will also soon be your one-stop gift shop,” Bell says.
Runners up: Jerry’s Foods, Lunds & Byerlys
Editor's Pick: Best New Place to Play
Splash Pad and Madison’s Place at Bielenberg Sports Center
A special part of the newly-expanded Bielenberg Sports Center field house project has taken shape on the south side, offering a spectacular play place for all: the splash pad and Madison’s Place. Opened last summer, the splash pad is a warm-weather haven for fun in the water, with dumping buckets, flower showers and nozzles. I know that many children, including my granddaughter, were sad when the summer was over, bringing an end to their enjoyable splash pad days.
After many years of dedication and fundraising from the Madison Claire Foundation, and a community build last fall, Madison’s Place will open adjacent to the splash pad this spring/early summer when the final rubberized surface is installed. The east metro’s first completely handicapped-accessible playground, Madison’s Place was designed for children with and without disabilities to play together side by side to foster friendships, understanding and acceptance. In addition, Madison’s Place will also give parents that are disabled the opportunity to play with their young children on the playground. Accessible restrooms are also located at the splash pad/playground project.
KIDS, FAMILY & PETS
The timeless idiom “I work hard so my children can have a better life,” has recently seen “dog” and “cat” in humorous substitutions. Yet, it’s true it’s only natural to want to provide the best for loved ones, fur and paws included. Lucky for Woodbury residents, there are a bevy of businesses that have this same goal. Here are the top spots to keep little smiles big and friendly tails furiously wagging.
Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel
Carver Lake Veterinary Center
The classic vision of being greeted by a wagging tail when walking through the door after a long day is desirable, but leaving pets alone all day isn’t always the most realistic option. Carver Lake Veterinary Clinic offers Daycare and PlayCare services to keep pets active and engaged. “Our tagline is ‘Your Other Family Doctors’ and this sums up our approach perfectly,” says Julie Rowan, practice manager. “We understand that in many cases, pets are considered members of the family, and should be treated as such.”
Runners up: Hudson Road Animal Hospital, Pet Images Country Inn
Best Veterinary Clinic
Hudson Road Animal Hospital
Sometimes, mastering a craft truly is a matter of experience. Hudson Road Animal Hospital (HRAH) is a great example of this; as the longest standing veterinary hospital in Woodbury, it will celebrate 55 years of service in May. Still, a commitment to continually evolving is a necessary trait for a business with this legacy. “All of our team members participate in annual continuing education to stay current on trends in medicine, grooming and boarding care for pets,” says Marcy Ward, practice manager. Their expertise and pure love of animals keeps tails wagging and regulars returning; our readers have chosen HRAH for this honor three of the past four years.
Runners up: Carver Lake Veterinary Center, Woodbury Animal Hospital
Best Learning/Tutoring Center
Learning Rx is not just for students. “We work with all kinds of clients—kids, adults and seniors as well,” says executive director Brock Heinrich. “We get to the root of the issue through one-on-one brain training. By strengthening those underlying processing skills, our clients finish their program with stronger brain skills.”
Runners up: Sylvan Learning Center, Mathnasium
Best Place to Spoil Your Pet
Walking into Pet Evolution, it’s hard to say whether there are more owners smiling or tails wagging; both parties are so happy to be in this all-natural pet food and new toy heaven. However there is one element that Woodbury families can’t stop talking about: the self-serve dog wash. “Watching families bring in their dogs and sharing in their laughter while they get their pooches clean is one of the best parts of working at Pet Evolution,” says owner Rian Thiele. With four stations available and washes starting at $15, there’s a lot of suds and laughter to be had.
Runners up: Posh Pooch Pet Salon & Boutique, DogSpaw
Best Place for Kids’ Activities
Woodbury Dance Center
For 21 years, Woodbury Dance Center (WDC) has been the go-to dance destination for toddler, children, teen and adult dance classes. Many of the WDC instructors grew up in the program and are committed to teaching not only dance, but teamwork, commitment and confidence. The center has also been a charitable force in the community and is an integral partner for “Darby’s Dancers,” a nonprofit organization offering no-cost dance classes to kids with special needs. “We feel it’s important to teach our students to be leaders in the community and this is a great way to do that,” says owner and instructor Kathy Mueller.
Runners up: Yackel Dance Studio, Perpetual Motion Gymnastics
(Woodbury Dance Center tap dancers Phoebie and Piper; Photo by Marissa Martinson)
New Life Academy
Many are aware of New Life Academy’s (NLA) integrative approach to K-12 education, but its early childhood education incorporates this same excellence for the little ones. Program focuses include cognitive development, social and emotional development and expressive arts. “At the heart of all we do is the Christian world view integrated throughout all our academics and school life,” says communications director Lauren Elrick. NLA offers “Little Learners” for children ages 24-36 months, preschool for ages 3-4, and pre-kindergarten for ages 4-5.
Runners up: Primrose School of Woodbury, Stepping Stones Early Learning Center
Editor's Pick: Best Cheerleader for Seniors
Born and reared in Ireland, Margaret Wachholz has been anchored in Woodbury since 1993. The former activities director and campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living is now there as a volunteer when her family’s schedule permits. She serves on the Woodbury Heritage Society board and is involved in the Face Aging Minnesota campaign. Wachholz is a dynamo with an intense passion for seniors which began in Ireland “where we always have our elders around us and there are few generational gaps,” she says. We asked her what makes seniors so special.
1. I’m a big believer that these beautifully older aging hands are needed in all areas that we endeavor. Youth have information at their fingertips, but our elders have the wisdom. There is a difference!
2. It’s very touching—an honor and a privilege—to be with people in wheelchairs who have the seeds of disease taking hold. One of my favorite parts of working with the elderly is at the end-of-life stage.
3. For me, working with seniors is a blessing. I come home energized because they remind me not to be flittering my brain with technology or worrying about trivial things. I find I’m more purposeful and mindful with my own family.
“With a little help from my friends,” transcends Beatles lyrics; it’s a greater piece of wisdom that serves as a necessary component of any balanced life. Services and specialists make the world go round, and Woodbury offers the best for everything from managing investments to making sure skin has a youthful glow.
Shelly McKee: Valley Creek Barbers
Boys and men alike have become devotees of this classic barbershop, and beyond the screens featuring sports and video games, Shelly McKee may have something to do with it. McKee has perfected everything from modern fades and textured backcombs to classic crew cuts and buzz cuts, and her growing list of clients is evidence of this. “The happiness of my clients means everything to me, and I work hard to create styles that make them happy,” McKee says.
Runners up: Michelle Hanson: HAIRitage ‘Hous, Dez Kazarian: Salon Ultimo
Some days, a personal beauty getaway is the only answer to life’s many questions, and lucky for Woodbury residents, that getaway is right off Radio Drive. Each expert team of hair, body, skin care and nail care experts operates under the golden rule of treating clients like they would like to be treated, leading to not only incredible results, but the renewing experience clients seek. General manager Karen Keller suggests the sea soothing facial and urban oxygenating facial for renewal after a long Minnesota winter. “We want you to feel good—and look great,” she says. “That is our team’s mission every single day.”
Runners up: Salon Ultimo, HAIRitage ‘Hous
Best Financial Advisor
Eric Rislove: Edward Jones Investments
Money is more than printed paper—it’s a factor that determines our life choices. Eric Rislove of Edward Jones fully embraces this perspective, allowing him to empathize with the Woodbury families his services support. “Ultimately, we’re working to give people security and peace of mind regarding their financial future,” he says. Rislove works with clients to truly understand their goals and dreams, then implements tailored strategies to help get them there—with one more important footnote: “We make it fun along the way!”
Runners up: Mark Hargis: Falcon Financial Group, Via Wealth Advisors
Emma Skog: Salon Ultimo
From basic waxing and tinting to advanced, customized facials, Woodbury’s chosen skin authority is Emma Skog of Salon Ultimo. Beyond her more than eight years of experience making people look and feel younger, clients choose Skog for the genuine interest she takes in them. “I love building relationships with my clients. I have clients I have been seeing for almost 8 years, and I love being a part of their lives,” Skog says.
Runners up: Debbie Gibson: Salon Ultimo, Coralie Harrison: HAIRitage ‘Hous
(Emma Skog, esthetician at Salon Ultimo; Photo by Marissa Martinson)
Best Insurance Agent
Brian Cludy: Cludy Family Insurance Agency
As vital as having insurance is, finding the right plan and understanding how it works can be extremely confusing. “Getting insurance doesn’t have to be frustrating if you have the right agent,” Cludy says. “Being an independent agency gives us the opportunity to work with a variety of different insurance carriers to find a fit for just about everyone.”
Runners up: Katie Olafson: Farmers Insurance, Chad Crow: State Farm Insurance
Best Law Firm
Baumann Law Office
When faced with legal work, choosing a law office to partner with can be daunting. Luckily, the Woodbury community has done the research for everyone and found a trusted partner in Baumann Law Office. So trusted, in fact, that many clients return again and again. “We are with many clients over the course of their lifetime as their legal needs change,” says principal partner Craig Baumann, P.A. “We also work for families across generations, serving the children and grandchildren of clients.” With 30 years practicing law and building relationships, Baumann Law Office continues to be Woodbury’s go-to partner.
Runners up: Sjoberg & Tebelius, P.A., Schwartz Law Firm
Editor's Pick: Best Service with a Smile
Vicky Zeeb, sales and service coordinator, Salon Ultimo
Anyone who has walked into Salon Ultimo for hair/nail/skin/massage services knows Vicky Zeeb. The friendly (and funny) sales and service coordinator has been behind the front desk for 24 years. We spoke with Zeeb about her career at Salon Ultimo.
What is most satisfying about your role at Salon Ultimo?
After so many years, you get to know the clients really well. Putting a smile on someone’s face is wonderful, and they make a difference in my life, too. And then there are my fellow employees—for that many girls, it’s amazing because we all really do like each other. That comes from good management. [Original owners] Rebecca Erickson and John Mingo taught excellent customer service and teamwork; that has certainly carried over to current owners Shannon and Chris Shultz.
Any humorous stories to share?
Well, a few years ago, I was standing in the salon, chatting with a stylist. All of a sudden, it felt like someone dropped something on my ankles. I looked down and my skirt had fallen down to the ground! Thank goodness I had a slip on…and I was among friends.