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About Town: Best of SLO County 2016 

click to enlarge BEST NEWS SOURCE: NEW TIMES:  We turned 30 and won the award for Best Local News source all in the same year. It’s our first time for both! Happy Birthday to us! No, we didn’t rig it—or did we? In 1985, Steve Moss thought this town needed more out of its local news coverage. He spent the next 20 years building the New Times way—fearless, honest, fair, and just reporting. It’s a legacy that continues more than 10 years after his death with a community of readers that pushes us to constantly be better than we are, and always reminds us of where we came from. - DESIGN BY ALEX ZUNIGA
  • DESIGN BY ALEX ZUNIGA
  • BEST NEWS SOURCE: NEW TIMES: We turned 30 and won the award for Best Local News source all in the same year. It’s our first time for both! Happy Birthday to us! No, we didn’t rig it—or did we? In 1985, Steve Moss thought this town needed more out of its local news coverage. He spent the next 20 years building the New Times way—fearless, honest, fair, and just reporting. It’s a legacy that continues more than 10 years after his death with a community of readers that pushes us to constantly be better than we are, and always reminds us of where we came from.

BEST NEW COMPANY OF 2015

The Junk Girls

2024 Main St., Cambria

Junk Girls Jenny Kompolt and Melissa James have a passion for creating treasures. They have been fashioning art out of found objects, vintage, and repurposed items since 2009. “Most of the stuff we do had a previous life,” Kompolt said. Their store is in the Shops at the Garden Shed in Cambria and features Kompolt’s art and lighting, and James’ metal stamping. “We are overjoyed and so appreciative to be voted best new company by New Times readers,” she added. “Our motto is Artists. Designers. Makers. Builders. Happy! That is what people always say about the vibe in our store—happy!”

—Ariel

Runner up: SLO Movement Arts Center

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE

Urban Optics

1001 Higuera St., SLO

“We kind of try to follow the Ritz-Carlton motto of customer service,” said Urban Optics Owner Dr. David Schultz. “Which is know as much about your customer as you can.” A handwritten thank you note follows each customer visit—either to the optometry office, the eyewear shop, or both. He said they try to learn what they can about each person: where they work, what they like, etc., and to treat each person who walks through the door as an individual, encouraging everyone to be their own unique fashion statement, much like the selection of frames the shop carries. 

—Camillia 

Runner up: Milkman Collective

BEST RADIO STATION

90.1 KCBX

4100 Vachell Lane, SLO

“Community supported radio,” as you may have heard over and over on the airwaves, basically sums up KCBX, the local public radio station and National Public Radio affiliate. The long-running station has a little bit of everything, including classical and jazz music, news, talk, and occasional out-of-the-box content. A few years ago, they started broadcasting live local news, and their small, hard-working team has settled right into the local media landscape. Frank Lanzone, the station’s general manager, said the station is constantly trying to stay in tune with what the community wants to hear, and they’re grateful for the loyal support they receive in return.

—Jono

Runner up: 98.1 KJUG

BEST NEWS SOURCE

New Times

1010 Marsh St., SLO

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride? Not this time, bitches! Every year New Times holds its annual Best Of Readers Poll, and every year our readers pick … wait for it … KSBY as the best local news source. WTF? This year, this little office appliance got ahold of the ballots as they came in and I shredded every one of those suckers that didn’t vote for us. Suck it, KSBY! Our reporters deserve this! They have to work out of a basement! You know we’ve won a shit-ton of awards, right? You know we’ve got a kickass political cartoonist in Russell Hodin, right? Who else covers local news like us or has a better calendar of upcoming events or a more vibrant arts section? And don’t even get me started about how insightful and awesome my political commentary is! Just don’t! And who gets more nutty letters than we do? Keep ’em coming, screwballs! Yes, thank you, readers. You finally got it right this year! 

—The Shredder

Runner up: KSBY

BEST PLACE FOR A WEDDING RECEPTION OR BIG BASH

Madonna Inn and Expo Center

100 Madonna Road, SLO

Clint Pearce, president of Madonna Enterprises, commented, “We’ve always hosted events and weddings and are quite proud of that.” The Madonna Inn’s experienced team of banquet and event specialists will help plan and create lavish affairs, intimate receptions, and everything in between, complete with exceptional cuisine and a unique and fun atmosphere suited to every event. “We are working to elevate our banquets and events to a whole other level in what we can offer in quality, size, and dimensions,” Pearce said. “We’re thrilled we were voted the best because we care about our clients and we put the emphasis on fun!”

—Ariel

Runner up: Avila Beach Golf Resort

BEST CATERER

Taste

2900 Broad St., SLO

If there is one thing every event needs, it’s sweet potato fries from Taste. Starting initially as just a catering company in 1999, they have been perfecting goodies that pair perfectly with any event. “We’re super passionate about food,” said Gretchen Lemiere, co-owner with her husband, Scott. “It’s also about just making people have the greatest day. I want people to walk away talking about the food ... [and] also about what a great event it was.” There is no doubt that people will be walking away dreaming of Hail Caesar, tartlettes, and also that pretty bride or something. 

—Rebecca 

Runner up: Maegan Loring

BEST PLACE TO STAY (Hotel, motel, B&B, etc.)

Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa

2727 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach

With a spa, upscale dining, a sweet pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and beach access, “The resort is kind of a destination in itself,” according to Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa Marketing and Revenue Manager Christina Stieb. Its 60 rooms range from 1,000 to 2,100 square feet in size and come with full kitchens and dining rooms. The size of those suites, the amenities that come with them, and the hotel’s level of service set the locally owned resort apart from the rest of crowd camped out along Pismo Beach’s waterfront. “We genuinely care about our guests,” Stieb said. 

—Camillia

Runner up: Madonna Inn

BEST CAR WASH

Sunset North Car Wash

SLO, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles 

What car on the Central Coast doesn’t like a good shower followed by a waxy rub down to shake off that salty air and get a little bling-y shine on the body? Maybe even get that sand vacuumed out and the dashboard oiled up, too? “We do everything,” said Bart Devaney, president of Sunset North Car Wash, which has two spots in SLO, one in spot in Arroyo Grande, and one in Paso. And the crew is constantly on the move to improve what they do every year. “I think the majority of our customers see that,” Devaney said. 

—Camillia 

Runner up: Quicky Car Wash

BEST MEDICAL MARIJUANA DELIVERY SERVICE

Milkman Collective

SLO City, Five Cities

With several cities passing restrictive ordinances on the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana, Milkman Collective—a family-run, nonprofit medical marijuana collective that started in 2015—promises its patients great customer service and quality medication delivered to their door. The collective wants to give patients the experience of a full-service store in their homes, guaranteeing that its drivers always carry the full menu of products and that all those products are lab tested for quality. “When we started this, we wanted be the gold standard for our patients in the SLO area,” said Christina, one of the collective’s founders.

—Chris

Runner up:  Ethnobotanica

BEST LOCAL BANK/CREDIT UNION

SESLOC Federal Credit Union

SLO, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Paso Robles

The mission of SESLOC is to be the financial institution and employer of choice in their community. Well, they’ve achieved that goal in SLO County—at least with New Times readers. In 1943, 32 San Luis Obispo County school employees attended the first official credit union meeting, headed by Superintendent Charles E. Teach. They held the first election and began operations with assets of $500. Six years later the acronym SESLOC was adopted: School Employees of San Luis Obispo County. Now, of course, SESLOC takes care of more that just school employees. They take care of you, too. 

—Camillia

Runner up: Heritage Oaks Bank

BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY

Richardson Properties

735 Tank Farm Road, suite 130, SLO

An exclusive affiliate of Christie’s Properties, Richardson Properties has brokered sales on the Central Coast for 27 years. Run by father/son team Charlie and Chris Richardson, the real estate company brings luxury properties at an affordable price—from The Oak Hill Center in Paso Robles to the new Avivo Townhomes in San Luis Obispo. “The people of our company are special and work very hard. We have so many developments from Arroyo Grande at Courtland and Grand to the new homes being built near Nacimento; it takes a team to make those sales,” said Senior Partner Charlie. They’re here to help you find your dream home.

—Giselle

Runner up: The Real Estate Group

BEST LAWYER

Jere N. Sullivan

1141 Pacific St., SLO

The New Times Best Of SLO County list is, allegedly, a reflection of the literate 805 community. If true, then, Dear Reader, I implore you to take a cab. The 2016 Best Lawyer in SLO County—allegedly—is the good-humored Jere N. Sullivan, who said DUI cases are his bread and butter. That, domestic violence cases, and enacting evictions. Sullivan has been a defense lawyer in the county for four decades, and he said winning is huge honor (allegedly). “This is like getting the Oscar for a lifetime achievement award,” Sullivan said. “I am looking at it as a reflection of those 40 years.” 

—Kylie

Runner up: Jeffrey D. Stulberg

BEST HOME AND GARDEN SERVICE (cleaning, landscape, maintenance, pool care, pest control, general contractor, etc.)

Sage Ecological Landscapes & Nursery

1188 Los Osos Valley Road, Los Osos

Working to better our world one landscape at a time is what inspires the people at Sage Ecological Landscapes & Nursery. Design Manager Scott Dominguez handles new projects. “I meet with people seeking to renovate and/or create a new garden; 90 percent of our business is private residential,” he said. “We educate our clients about native plants and drought tolerance and help them create gardens with low maintenance and lots of variety and color.” He added that owner Todd Davidson was thrilled at being selected by readers and said, “Wow—we were chosen by the community! We are so pleased that they enjoy the services we provide.”

—Ariel

Runner up:  Brezden Pest Control

BEST MOVING COMPANY

Meathead Movers

3600 S. Higuera St., SLO

Started in 1997 by Evan and Aaron Steed, starving college students willing to work for a few bucks, Meathead Movers is now one of the largest U.S. independent movers. Their Princess Packers carefully pack items, and Meathead Movers donates a buck for each box they pack to local children’s charities. They also move victims of domestic violence to shelters or new homes for free and organize supply drives for disaster victims. “We are grateful to be trusted as the No. 1 mover and will continue to work hard to improve our value to our community,” Aaron said.

—Ariel

Runner up: ASAP

BEST PLUMBER

McBrides Plumbing & Sheet Metal Inc.

141 Suburban Road, unit D4, SLO

McBride’s Plumbing has served SLO for 93 years and is currently a fourth generation locally owned business. Office Manager Laura Burkharvt and Owner Danny McBride attributed their longevity to old-fashioned customer service. Over the years, Burkharvt and McBride said, they have seen unspeakable things wind up in the pipes. “Lots of wedding rings, keys, kids toys, and phones ... [And] don’t get us started on the stuff those college kids think is flushable!” they wrote in an email. On the topic of plumber’s butt, they said, “Everyone has one. We just happen to have it named after us! It’s better to see one and have your problem fixed than let the leak go on.”

—Kylie

Runner up: Finn Plumbing Inc. 

BEST DENTIST

Dr. Scott D. Morton

881 Pacific St., SLO

The moment you enter Dr. Scott Morton’s reception area you feel comfortable and at ease. Exams and X-rays are done using state-of-the-art technology, and the doctor’s assistants are friendly and gentle. Morton believes in treating each patient with complete honesty. His focus is to provide the best dental care suited to each person’s needs, physically and financially. “I want what is best for each of my patients and strive to provide the best care, treatment, and advice for maintenance of good dental health,” Morton said. His superb care and friendly staff will certainly put a smile on your face.

—Ariel

Runner up: Dr. Ron Barbieri

BEST DOCTOR

Dr. David Schultz, Urban Optics 

1001 Higuera St., SLO

For more than 30 years, Dr. David Schultz has been giving eye exams to check for vision problems or diseases and prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed. He opened Urban Optics 26 years ago to serve SLO County’s need to access eyewear they can’t find anywhere else. Schultz said often someone stops in to check out the lenses and becomes a loyal customer and a patient. All that patient needs to do is step one foot out of Schultz’s back office to find a wonderland of lenses: It’s a one-stop shop for all your eye needs. 

—Camillia

Runner up: Dr. Rene Bravo, Bravo Pediatrics

BEST CHIROPRACTOR

Dr. Brian Buchanan, People’s Chiropractic Center 

965 Monterey St., SLO

Dr. Brian Buchanan’s been working on “all those weird joints” for 16 years. He means ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and jaws. Basically, he specializes in extremities: those parts of an athlete that get hammered. “I get people well and I set people free,” he said. Once a sports trainer who studied kinesiology and sports medicine, he does all the body fixing by hand (no electronic muscle stimulation here) and throws some strengthening, stretching, and nutrition in the mix as well. “Usually, I’m a one-man show,” he said. That is, unless his friendly chocolate lab is in the building.

—Camillia

Runner up:  Dr. Rex Stevens, SLO Wellness

BEST VET

Dr. Mark O’Reilly, Stenner Creek Animal Hospital

191 Santa Rosa St., SLO

When he’s not checking up on your pet, Dr. Mark O’Reilly is happily raising registered polled Hereford and Angus cattle, and his dogs (with a little direction from their master) are happily bossing around the herd. If you’re looking for a new vet, O’Reilly won’t turn your pet away from Stenner Creek Animal Clinic—and they do it all there: including boarding, breeding, dental care, dermatology, grooming, emergency care, surgery, ultrasound, and there are even clinics on Saturday just for the SLO community. “Thank you SLO community pet lovers for voting for us!” O’Reilly said. 

—Camillia

Runner up:  Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic

BEST AUTO MECHANIC

Villa Automotive 

34 South St., SLO

As an eighth generation Californian, John Villa is at the head of a family business that’s “been serving the transportation needs of San Luis Obispo County since 1886,” Villa said. “We started out as blacksmiths.” Now that’s a serious local historic legacy. It’s all about family, and the community is family, Villa said. Customer service, obviously, is a top priority but so is maintaining that tight connection with the people Villa Automotive serves, which is why the company is a member of almost 30 local community service organizations. “We always want to make this community better because we’re not leaving,” he said. 

—Camillia

Runner up: Superior Authority

BEST CAR DEALER

Sunset Honda

12250 Los Osos Valley Road, SLO

Customers realize what they’re getting when they walk onto the lot at Sunset Honda, said co-owner Chris Baughman. “We always try to make sure the customer comes first and we support the town that we live in,” he said. “We continue to support them and they continue to support us.” Concerts in the Plaza and the Cancer Challenge are examples of some of the local events sponsored by Sunset, which has been selling Hondas for almost 40 years. Baughman said that although the car dealership provides top-notch service, it totally doesn’t hurt that Honda makes a stellar product. 

—Camillia

Runner up: McCarthy’s

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