A Memorable Year

The 2017 Best of Columbia winners share reflections



Jeff Amberg

Each year, it is our great privilege to conduct the Best of Columbia contest honoring the wonderful businesses that together help our city thrive. The local businesspeople of the Midlands make this community a special place to live and work, and out of all of the high-quality options available, our readers have selected the following as the best of the best.

 

This year, we asked the question, “What is your favorite memory from 2016?” Please read on to find out the winner of each category, as well as their favorite reflection on this past year. Congratulations to all of our 2017 winners!

 

FOOD

Best Appetizer

Bonefish Grill 

 

Best Barbecue

Little Pigs Barbecue

My favorite memory of 2016 is celebrating the first birthday of my seventh grandchild, who happens to be my first granddaughter, with tons of friends at the restaurant in our banquet facility. — Champ McGee

 

Best Chicken Salad

The Gourmet Shop 

 

Best French Fries

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Best Hamburger 

Pawleys Front Porch

 

Best Fried Chicken

Zesto

 

Best Hot Dog

Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs

 

Best Sandwich

Groucho’s Deli

 

Best Pizza

Marco’s Pizza

 

Best Ribs

Hudson’s Smokehouse

 

 

Best Shrimp and Grits

Blue Marlin

I remember the call advising me that Blue Marlin was selected once again for Best Shrimp and Grits — but, there is no question that my favorite memory from 2016 is the day I became a grandparent for the first time. — Bill Dukes

 

Best Steak

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

The rewards of watching the city of Columbia band together and recover from the historic floods of fall 2015 is our favorite memory from 2016. We are so proud to have witnessed the spirit of our capital city and our residents. Celebrating The River City!

 

Best Biscuits

Eggs Up Grill

 

Best Iced Tea

Chick-fil-A

 

Best Wings

D’s Wings

Best Bakery

Silver Spoon Bake Shop

Our favorite memory of 2016 was winning “Top Chef” at the Palmetto Palate dining competition. Having our desserts go up against some of Columbia’s best chefs (and winning!) was quite an honor! — Erin Nobles

 

Best Cookies

Tiffany’s Bakery and Eatery

 

Best Cupcake Store

Cupcake DownSouth

I would say our favorite memory of 2016 is Valentine’s Day — our busiest day of the year, and we prepare for it for days ahead of time. Our bakers tag-team, and our whole staff has specific tasks to get us through the day. It’s crazy and fun and a great team effort to make our customers happy.

 

Best Dessert 

Nonnah’s

Our favorite memory is the expansion of our savory kitchen, which has added a new dimension to our restaurant.

Best Frozen Yogurt 

32° A Yogurt Bar

 

Best Milkshake

Grill Marks

Our favorite memory from 2016 is winning several “Best Of” awards around Columbia in our first year of business!

 

Best Ice Cream 

Marble Slab Creamery

 

Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods Market

 

Best Supermarket

Publix Super Markets

 

RESTAURANTS

Best Restaurant in Columbia

Motor Supply Co. Bistro

Chef Wes Fulmer and his culinary team, as well as head barman, Josh Streetman, had several memorable wins in 2016, including media shout-outs from national publications like Travel + Leisure and Thrillist, and they also participated in regional food festivals like Euphoria Greenville and Asheville Wine & Food. Our 2016 was fun!

 

Best Restaurant in Irmo

Alodia’s Cucina Italiana

 

Best Restaurant in Lexington

Travinia Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar

 

Best Restaurant in Northeast 

Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar

 

Best Restaurant in West Columbia/Cayce

116 Espresso & Wine Bar

 

Best NEW Restaurant

The War Mouth

Professionally, we opened just before Christmas 2015, so our favorite memory from 2016 would have to be seeing The War Mouth packed out for the first time. Personally, my favorite memory was seeing my little girl hit her stride socially and academically. — Porter Barron 

 

Best Happy Hour

Rosso Trattoria Italia

 

Best Brewery

River Rat Brewery

In 2016 one of our best memories is that we were honored with several awards, the most prestigious being the World Beer Cup Bronze Medal for our Bohemian Pilsner. The World Beer Cup is like the Olympics of beer competition. — Mike Tourville

 

Best Wine List

Cellar on Greene

 

Best Coffee House

Drip

 

Best Bang for your Buck

Cantina 76

 

Best Business Lunch

Mr. Friendly’s

 

Best Family Restaurant

Lizard’s Thicket

Our family and staff’s favorite memory of 2016 is opening the doors to several of our restaurants to candidates passing through our state this past primary season!

 

Best Romantic Dinner

Al’s Upstairs Italian Restaurant

 

Best Fine Dining

Ristorante Divino

 

Best Outdoor Dining

Liberty Tap Room on the Lake

 

Best Sunday Brunch

Cafe Strudel

Probably the most memorable moment of 2016 had nothing to do with business and was the birth of another grandbaby, Jack, to my son Kyle and his wife, Karyn. My wife and I are now blessed with eight grandchildren from newborn to 27! Life is good! — Walter Turbyfill

 

Best Seafood

Blue Marlin

 

Best Healthy Restaurant

Zoës Kitchen

 

Best Food Truck

2 Fat 2 Fly

 

Best Wait Staff

Motor Supply Co. Bistro

 

Best Wine Shop

Morganelli’s Party Store

Because we are a small family business, the best memory for us is looking over and seeing everyone in our family during the busy holiday season working together to keep the business running. “It takes a village.” The great American dream is still possible when your father, mother, two daughters, son-in-law, brother-in-law and even your grandchildren know the importance of family ties and family business. And we cannot say enough about our employees. They are family too! 

— Brenda Morganelli

 

Best Fast Food Restaurant

Chick-fil-A

 

Best Chinese

Miyo’s

 

Best Greek

Devine Foods

 

Best Italian

il Giorgione Pizzeria & Wine Bar

This was a great year for il Giorgione! We have traveled many times to Italy, but in 2016 we traveled there for the first time as restaurant owners. We enjoyed the food, wine and culture with a whole new perspective. We returned refreshed and inspired. Looking forward to a wonderful 2017! 

— Monica and George Kessler

 

Best Japanese

Miyo’s

 

Best Mexican

Cantina 76

 

Best Sushi Restaurant

Inakaya Watanabe

 

Best Thai

Mai Thai Cuisine

 

RETAIL

Best Women’s Clothing

Copper Penny

 

Best Women’s Evening Wear

Monkee’s of Columbia

 

Best Women’s Shoes

Coplon’s

 

Best Men’s Clothing

BP Skinner Clothiers

One of our favorite memories for 2016 is when the CEO of a major clothing company came in from Italy to visit the store. He walked in and said, “Wow, this store could be in any city in the United States and be among the best!” This encourages us to continue providing our customers with the finest clothing and service.  — Marlo Skinner

 

Best Men’s Formal Wear

Brittons 

Our favorite memory from 2016 took place at one of our Brittons weddings. After being hired to dress the wedding party, we worked very closely with the mother of the groom to create a bow tie bar to surprise the wedding party and all of their guests. All bow ties were custom made and selected before the wedding. We tied 75 custom-made bow ties during this wedding and helped create an amazing memory for the family!

 

Best Men’s Shoes

Brittons 

 

Best Children’s Clothing

Little Lambs & Ivy 

 

Best Children’s Shoes

Tootsies Children’s Shoes

Best Bridal Wear

London and Lace

 

Best Bridal Registry 

non(e)such

 

Best Weekend Wear

Mainstream Boutique of Columbia

The highlight of 2016 was our second year anniversary celebration this past October. It was heartwarming to commemorate this milestone with our customers, many of whom have supported us from the beginning. We are grateful for the opportunity to help the women of Columbia look and feel their best. 

— Elliott Bridgers

 

Best Jewelry Store

Sylvan’s

At Sylvan’s, we have so many wonderful memories from 2016. Our entire business is about helping clients celebrate the special moments in their lives, whether it’s an engagement, the birth of a child, a birthday or anniversary. It’s difficult to single out just one because they are all very meaningful to us. — Tracy N. Garner

 

Best Accessories

Just the Thing

In 2016, I was nominated and voted in as the new president of the Devine Street Association. I am humbled and honored to serve this awesome street that Just the Thing has been on for 14 years. It takes a village, and I’m thrilled to be surrounded by such great neighbors! — Tracy Wright

 

Best Gift Store

non(e)such

 

Best Vision Wear

Eye on Gervais

Our favorite memory from 2016 is being voted the Best of Columbia. Our patients and customers are truly the best.

 

Best Clothing Consignment Store

Revente

My favorite memory of 2016 was finding out that I am pregnant and that we will have two new shop babies in March! — Heather Burns

 

Best Toy Store

Be Beep

 

Best Antique Store

Old Mill Antique Mall

 

Best Frame Shop

The Picture Place

My favorite memory of 2016 is my daughter having a daughter after being told that she could not have children. Little Eleanor defied all odds and, of course, is the cutest baby ever. — Sheree Smith

 

Best Art Supply Store

City Art

 

Best Pet Boutique

Dalespets Grooming Salon

 

Best Pet Grooming 

Carolina Paws Dog Grooming 

The best memory of 2016 is just how important our customers are to us. I had several health issues and then both of my dogs became disabled in the same day. I cannot express how valuable my customers are when it came to prayers and support for a complete recovery. They made a difficult time so much easier. — Kimberly Power

 

Best Pet Supply Store

Mill Creek Pet Food and Grooming Center

 

Best Hunting/Fishing Store

Barron’s Outfitters

 

Best Outdoor Store

Half-Moon Outfitters

 

Best Running Specialty Store

Strictly Running 

Our best memories of 2016 center around the wonderful events that we are honored to work with each week. The events are for such great causes, but what excites us is seeing the look of accomplishment on the participants’ faces when they reach the finish line and meet their goal!

 

Best Bicycle Specialty Store

Outspokin’ Bicycles

 

Best Gamecock Store

Garnet and Black Traditions

 

Best Mattress Store

Best Mattress

My favorite memory of 2016 is listening to a wonderful 82-year-old lady call in with emotion in her voice and offer to purchase and donate mattress sets for a flood ravaged, needy family she had only seen on TV. The community came together for those in need. — Buddy Delaney

 

Best Office Furnishings

Corporate Concepts of S.C.

The year anniversary of how well the community came together after the historic flood to help our neighbors is my favorite memory of 2016. — Rutledge Davies

 

Best Office Supply Store

Lorick Office Products

 

Best Shopping Venue

Trenholm Plaza

 

HOME

Best NEW Home Community

Saluda River Club

 

Best Apartment Complex

5000 Forest Apartment Homes

5000’s favorite memories of 2016 include our fabulous residents, neighbors and community events. Paint and pour nights, food truck visits and movie nights being enjoyed by those who call 5000 Forest home are special to Estates & Companies. Thank you for a great 2016!

— Katy Holmes

Best Retirement Community

Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community

 

Best Assisted Living

Lutheran Homes of South Carolina

 

Best Home Builder

Mungo Homes

 

Best Home Remodeler

Palmetto Construction and Renovations

A good memory I will take away from 2016 is how so many neighborhoods have been able to rebuild and overcome all of the devastation following the floods of 2015. I realize there is still work to be done, but I am proud of what has been accomplished and how the people of Columbia and South Carolina have been able to persevere! 

— Jim Evatt

 

Best General Contractor

Palmetto Construction and Renovations

 

Best Home Furnishings

Ethan Allen

Our best memory for 2016 is the exciting news we received about working with Disney and to be able to provide our clients the opportunity to “bring the Disney magic home.” It’s for adults, kids and even babies. It smiles by the gallon! It is designed, made and curated only at Ethan Allen. 

— Mitch Kiser

 

Best Outdoor Furniture Store

Casual Living

Each year, as we change our patio store into a holiday shop, we host an open house to begin the holiday season. This is always one of our favorite things as we have a chance to visit with long-time customers as well as meet new ones. The store is festive, and everyone is happy and looking forward to a happy holiday season. 

— Dottie Reynolds

 

Best Furniture Consignment Store

Main Street Home

 

Best Custom Furniture 

Strobler Home Furnishings

 

Best Furniture Refinisher 

Alan Kinder Custom Woodwork

 

Best Appliance Store

Jeffers McGill Appliance and Furniture

Best Glass Store

Ace Glass

 

Best Flooring

Flooring by Cogdill 

 

Best Roofing Company

The Red Shirt Guys Roofing

One thing that will always stand out is the privilege we’ve had working with Homes For Our Troops, which provides specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans and their families. Most recently we participated with HFOT in the building of a home for Sgt. Robert Barber and his family in Chapin. The Red Shirt Guys love and support our military! — Annie Fowler

 

Best Wallpaper/Wall Covering Store

Wallpaper Additions

Thanking Columbia for all of the business they have given us over the past 25 years. We appreciate all of your support. 

— Pamela Smith

 

Best Home Specialty Store

Gateway Supply Co. 

As a South Carolinian, my memories of the state coming together this year to help others in need after the flood of October 2015 are first and foremost. But personally, my favorite memory is the grand re-opening of Gateway Supply Company’s newly renovated bath and kitchen showroom. We are excited to see what the future holds, and I am truly blessed to be part of this company and to call Columbia, South Carolina home.

— Sam Williams, Jr.

 

Best Gardening Store

Woodley’s Garden Center

Our favorite memory from 2016 was when we discovered a handwritten note in the garden center that read, “I’ve been so depressed, then I came here and it went away! Praise God.” We are so overjoyed to know that our staff and our passion can make such a positive impact on others’ lives. 

 

Best Fence Company

Brabham Fence

The memory we have of the past year isn’t a favorite, but a memory of teamwork, support, community service and good-hearted employees. Our entire company stepped in this past October when we were flooded. Everyone came to our house and helped get everything out and started to tear out our sheet rock walls so we could move quickly with remediation. We are so thankful for each and every one of our employees and subs. 

— Carole Brabham

 

Best Swimming Pool Company

Jack Oliver’s Pool, Spa and Patio

Our favorite memory of 2016 is having seen the Midlands come together to recover and rebuild after the October floods. The resilience and sense of community was unprecedented and reassuring. I’m honored to have the opportunity to do business with the people in our area. — Jack Oliver

Best Solar Company

Vision Solar Palmetto State

From the beginning of 2016 until now, we’ve seen an 85 percent increase in homeowners who are choosing to go solar with Vision Solar. That’s enough proof to me that Columbia residents care deeply about this great city and preserving it for future generations by switching to clean, renewable, solar energy. — Jake Meggs

 

Best Tile Store

Palmetto Tile Distributors, Inc.

Our fondest memory of 2016 is the end of election season! 

 

RECREATION

Best Farmers Market

Soda City

FitnessFest was a new and fresh addition to the Saturday market, and one that speaks to the often overlooked growth of our city! Local gyms hosted class demonstrations in Boyd Plaza to raise money for CampMATES. The upbeat vibe of the event and the energy of attendees was unmatched. 

 

Best Festival

Greek Festival

 

Best Wine and Paint Studio

Wine & Design Columbia

 

Best Golf Course

Spring Valley Country Club

 

Best Exercise Facility

barre3

My favorite memory from 2016 was a recent event — my twin girls’ first birthday party! I survived the chaos of three girls, owning barre3 Columbia, and then I opened my second studio on Aug. 29. I feel really proud of all that I have accomplished in 2016, and it has all made me stronger and more appreciative of all that I have in my life.

— Lauren Truslow

 

Best Lodging

Inn at USC Wyndham Garden

For us, 2016 was the year for winning awards for the Inn at USC Wyndham Garden. We are honored to say this is our fourth year in a row winning Best of Columbia. Our general manager, Andrew Lucas, was awarded Lodging Manager of the Year by South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, and we were awarded Trip Advisor’s Hall of Fame, Expedia’s Insider Select and Booking.com Reviewer Choice.

 

SERVICE

Best Facial

Endless Vitality 

 

Best Massage

PURA

Our favorite memory in 2016 has truly been the loyal customers who make PURA what it is today. We love exceeding our clients’ needs and providing them with the results they deserve! It has been our ultimate pleasure to wake up each day, ready to serve the Midlands community.

 

Best Nail Salon

Eva’s Skin Care

 

Best Hair Salon

Metropolis Salon & Dry Bar

Our favorite memory in 2016 is having the opportunity work an elegant wedding in New York City — during the record-breaking blizzard — that was featured in The New York Times.

 

Best Spa

OCCO Luxury Spa + Salon

 

Best Medical Spa

Healing Waters

Our favorite memory of 2016 is and always will be our patients and guests. Having the honor to share transformational change with the community and impact lives for the better is the driving force behind our team and our  passion for this field. We are very excited about new services launching in the new year! We are extending our menu, and will be offering some of the latest fillers, lasers and treatments in the medical industry. 

— Cory King

 

Best Florist

Blossom Shop

 

Best Caterer

Southern Way Catering

 

Best Event Planner

Meagan Warren Weddings

All of our weddings hold a special memory for us. It’s seeing the love between two people and their joy for life — those make the best memories of all! — Meagan Warren

Best Wedding Planner

Cricket Newman Designs

My favorite memory from 2016 was seeing a bride walk down the aisle with a rainbow in the background after we moved her entire wedding to avoid Hurricane Matthew. We hired new vendors, rerouted logistics and secured new lodgings. In short, a wedding that had been in the planning process for a year was totally re-planned in two days.  

— Cricket Newman

 

Best Bridal Photographer

Clark Berry Photography

 

Best Wedding Venue

701 Whaley

 

Best Pet Boarding

Dog Daze 

Our favorite memory from 2016 is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Dog Daze being open.

 

Best Vet

Four Paws Animal Clinic

The best memories of 2016 are how supportive and caring our clients continue to be as we work toward returning to Forest Acres. — Nori Warren

 

Best Chiropractor

Chiropractic Wellness Center

My favorite memory of 2016 is the Gervais Street Bridge Dinner! It was such a beautiful and typical South Carolina fall day — warm in the afternoon and cool at night. The entire event exceeded my expectations and was lovely from beginning to end. The food and drinks were delicious, and the roller skating waitstaff and the music made for a special memory. I’m already planning for 2017’s event! — Dr. Shelly Jones

 

Best Dry Cleaner

Tripp’s Fine Cleaners

The highlight of 2016 for our company was getting our 1339 Broad River Road location back up and running after being closed for 11 months, one week and one day because of a fire. Personally (while still a business memory) the highlight would be seeing my 12-year-old daughter work her first “official” day at Tripp’s this past year. That marks four generations of the Penninger family who have served our customers. I know my grandparents looked down from heaven with a smile too! — Tripp Penninger

Best Carpet Cleaner

Stanley Steemer

 

Best Chimney Sweep

Top Hat Sweepers

My business has grown and become successful in large part because I chose years ago to become involved with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Building Industry Association and by supporting the tremendous arts community. To celebrate my upcoming 35th year of Top Hat Sweepers, as well as to honor a 2016 centennial birthday, my family hosted a trip to Belize where we celebrated success, friendship and family. 

— Ron Rust

 

Best Heating/Air Service

2nd Wind Heating & Air Conditioning

 

Best Pest Control

Clark’s Termite & Pest Control

 

Best Mosquito Company

Mosquito Joe

 

Best Hardscape Company

Hay Hill Services, Inc.

A long time commercial customer allowed Hay Hill the opportunity of installing all of the landscaping on their new home on Lake Murray. This particular project, installing custom stone walls, cobble stone parking area, exposed aggregate driveway, lighting and irrigation was the largest residential job our company had ever tackled and our favorite memory of 2016.

 

Best Landscaping Company

Hay Hill Services, Inc.

 

Best Lawn Maintenance Company

Blue Moon Landscaping

My favorite memory of 2016 has to be of Molly, my wife, joining the management team. Blue Moon is our family business, but Molly’s presence and involvement have given “family business” a fresh meaning. 

— Trent Hutchinson

 

Best Tree Service

Sox & Freeman Tree Expert Co.

On the morning that Hurricane Matthew hit Columbia, I received a phone call from a customer of ours in Forest Acres. He asked if Sox & Freeman could remove a total of 10 trees from around and on top of a home whose young owners were on their honeymoon and were completely oblivious to the state of their house. We started on Sunday morning and completed the removals and cleanup by the time they returned. Although this was a tragedy for them, I felt great that Sox & Freeman was there to help them. 

— Chris Freeman

 

Best Plumbing Company

Superior Plumbing & Gas

 

Best Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

 

Best Interior Designer (Commercial)

Steven Ford Interiors, Inc.

Our favorite memory from 2016 is meeting with an Atlanta based, global architectural firm to participate in the initial stages of design for a major project that will be an important part of the community in years to come.

 

Best Interior Designer (Residential)

Ford Bailey, Verve Interiors

 

Best Moving Company

Two Men and a Truck

 

Best Car Dealership

Jim Hudson Lexus Columbia

Our favorite memory of 2016 was teaming up with Harvest Hope Food Bank to provide 1 million meals to the less fortunate. Jim Hudson believes giving people experiences they’ll never forget doesn’t simply pertain to an eventful day at the dealership. It applies to everyday life and all of the little moments in-between.

 

Best Used Car Dealership

Jim Hudson Lexus Columbia

 

Best Car Rental Agency

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

 

Best Auto Repair Company

Andrews Auto Service

 

Best Tire Store

Frank’s Discount Tire

 

Best Boat Dealer/Marina

Lake Murray Boat Club

As the owner of Lake Murray Boat Club, my favorite memory from 2016 is celebrating our 10 year anniversary. With more than 20,000 boat outings over these past 10 years, our members have enjoyed a unique opportunity in today’s hectic world to spend quality time with family and friends — to make memories that will last a lifetime. — Jon Dukes

 

Best Insurance Agent

Larry Lucas Agency, State Farm

My favorite memory of 2016 is seeing our community come together yet another time of disaster. Being in the business of planning for the unexpected makes us very aware of what can happen, and how to prepare. Watching South Carolina step up and help their neighbors makes our company trademark “Like a Good Neighbor®” ring true. 

— Larry Lucas, ChFC, CASL, AIC

 

Best Mortgage Bank

Guild Mortgage Company

Our favorite part of 2016 was working together to raise enough money to send 14 children to Camp Kemo this year! It was truly a team effort and wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our referral partners and employees across Columbia!

 

Best Real Estate Agent

Jill Moylan, Home Advantage Realty

 

Best Real Estate Agency (Commercial)

Colliers International

 

Best Real Estate Agency (Residential)

Home Advantage Realty

Home Advantage Realty loves all of our clients, and we were especially honored in 2016 to have helped legendary blues guitarist, Drink Small, and his lovely wife, Drina, find their Columbia dream home and make home ownership a reality for them — The Blues Doctor has made a house call. — Jill Moylan

 

Best Staffing Agency

Roper Staffing

For us, 2016 was our 34th year serving Columbia and our most successful year yet. We are proud that Roper Staffing provided employment to more than 3,000 workers in the greater Columbia area.

 

Best Travel Agency

Forest Lake Travel

 

Best Modeling Agency 

Millie Lewis Columbia

MEDIA &

ENTERTAINMENT 

Best Art Gallery 

Columbia Museum of Art

 

Best Live Theatre

Trustus Theatre

 

Best Museum

South Carolina State Museum

Launching the Museum of Oz for the first time in October and seeing enormous success from the campaign is our favorite memory from 2016. The people of the state loved it, and we plan to bring it back again next year because we received so many amazing comments from guests! 

 

Best Conference Venue

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

The addition of the new Sea Lion Landing exhibit to our selection of unique event spaces was the highlight of 2016! Offering guests spectacular vantage points of the California sea lions and harbor seal, this exhibit is proving to be one of Columbia’s most memorable locations for cocktail parties.

 

Best Radio Personality

Ace & TJ

 

Best TV Station

WIS News 10

 

Best TV News Anchor

Ben Hoover

 

Best TV Sportscaster 

Rick Henry

 

Best TV Weatherperson

Ben Tanner

 

Best Live Music Venue

Colonial Life Arena

My favorite memory of 2016 was seeing people smile and have a good time during shows at Colonial Life Arena! It was a joy to watch children light up watching Elsa at Disney on Ice presents Frozen or seeing friends laugh and sing every song at concerts like Pearl Jam and Maroon 5 this past year. The magic of live events gets me every time! 

— Sid Kenyon 

 

Best Local Band

 

The Root Doctors