Last week, Breeze Newspapers handed out their prestigious Best of the Islands Awards, as voted on by readers of the Island Reporter and Sanibel-Captiva Islander, during a festive luncheon gala staged at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club.
During the month of August, readers of both newspapers filled out ballots nominating their favorite island businesses, attractions and service providers in 84 individual categories. More than 1,300 validated ballots were submitted during the voting period.
While every winner should rightfully be congratulated for the honor, the biggest winner of the 2011 Best of the Islands Awards was Traders Store & Cafe, which took top honors for Best Dinner as well as Best Bartender (Bobby Dunn), Best Server (Leslie) and Best Chef (Mike Patnode).
Seated from left are Francis Bailey, Richard and Mead Johnson. Standing are Zach VanZandt and J.T. Thomas.
Receiving three category wins each was Bailey's General Store (Best Bakery, Best Deli and Best Grocery), The Sanibel Grill & Raw Bar (Best Bar, Best Happy Hour and Best Place To Watch The Game) and Bank of the Islands (Best Bank, Best Financial Services and Best Mortgage Broker/Agency).
"We are very excited that the community thinks so much of us that they would bestow these awards on us," said Richard Johnson, general manager of Bailey's General Store. "A giant thank you to everybody!"
Mark Blust of The Sanibel Grill & Raw Bar credits his restaurant's consistency with the reason they've been successful.
"There have been three other restaurants to open up in the last year, and that does chip away at the market share," he explained, "but it's nice that the public does recognize our product and excellence."
In addition, Francis Bailey was lauded as Humanitarian of the Year.
"I feel very humbled by this," said Bailey. "I don't know what I did to deserve this honor, but I am very thankful for it."
Other winners (listed by category) included:
Best Museum - Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
Best Place For Dancing - The Jacaranda
Best Place For Entertainment - The Jacaranda
Best Family Dining - The Island Cow
Best Lunch - The Island Cow
Best Fine Dining - The Sanibel Steakhouse
Best Steak - The Sanibel Steakhouse
Best Ice Cream - Pinocchio's Original Italian Ice Cream
Best Local Entertainer - Danny Morgan
Best Pizza - Island Pizza Company LLC
Best Golf Course - The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club
Best Tennis Courts - The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club
Best Breakfast - Over Easy Cafe
Best Burger - The Lazy Flamingo
Best Dessert - The Bubble Room
Best Seafood - Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market
Best To Go/Fast Food - Schnapper's Hots
Best Wine Selection - The Grog Shop
Best Fishing Equipment - The Bait Box
Best Fishing Guide - Captain Joey Burnsed
Best Island Event - Fourth of July Parade (Lisa Newmayer-Cochrane and Trish Phillips)
Best Place for Family Fun - Billy's Bike Shop
Best Watersports - YOLO Watersports, Inc.
Best Art Gallery - Watson MacRae Gallery
Best Book Store - Sanibel Island Bookshop
Best Children's Clothing - Giggles
Best Craft Shop - Three Crafty Ladies Inc.
Best Florist - Floral Artistry of Sanibel Inc.
Best Furniture - Sanibel Home Furnishings
Best Gift Shop - Sanybel's Finest
Best Home Interior - Decorating Den Interiors
Best Jewelry - Lily & Co.
Best Shell Shop - She Sells Sea Shells
Best Swimwear - Winds
Best Women's Clothing - Chico's
Best Chiropractor - Dr. Michael Tolisano
Best Day Spa - Sanibel Day Spa
Best Dentist - Dr. Lyle Hotchkiss
Best Family Practitioner - Dr. Edward LaMotta
Best Hair Salon/Barber - Sanibel Beauty Salon
Best Manicure/Pedicure - Head to Toes by Tina
Best Massage Therapist - Charlene Black
Best Medical Center - San-Cap Medical Center
Best Optometrist - Snead Cataract
Best Pharmacy - Island Pharmacy
Best Attorney - Jason R. Maughan P.A.
Best Auto Service - Sanibel Shell
Best Builder - Sandcastle Construction Co.
Best Electrician - Molnar Electric Inc.
Best Heating & Air Conditioning - Sanibel Air Conditioning
Best Hotel/Inn - 'Tween Waters Inn
Best Home Improvement Contractor - Dan Hahn Custom Builders Inc.
Best Insurance Agency - Heidrick & Co. Insurance and Risk Management Services
Best Landscape Contractor - R.S. Walsh Landscaping Inc.
Best Lawn Service - Mon Reve Landscape Design & Maintenance Inc.
Best Marina - Sanibel Marina
Best Painting - John Grey Painting
Best Plumber - Nave Plumbing Inc.
Best Pool Service - Island Condo Maintenance Inc.
Best Printer - Big Red Q Quickprints Center
Best Taxi/Limo Service - Sanibel Taxi
Best Trust Company - Sanibel Captiva Trust Co.
Best Property/Vacation Management. - Royal Shell Vacations Inc.
Best Real Estate Agent - Karen Bell
Best Real Estate Agency - Re/Max of the Islands
Best Real Estate Team - Burns Family Team
Best Title Company - Barrier Island Title Services Inc.
Best Fireman - Rob Doerr
Best Police Officer - Kurt Schulte
Best Service Organization/Club - CROW