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Falling in Love

Best of 2009


Place to Buy Intimate Apparel

A Tropical Affair Lingerie & Bikinis

12 E. Cota St., 730-1625

The folks at Tropical Affair are exultant at finally beating that big national chain with the name of a former queen of Great Britain in its title. “We’re delighted,” said store manager Geneva Boddy-McMahon. “We’ve waited years for this. Well, exactly eight-and-three-quarters years, since we first opened.” Their secret? “We have the cutest stuff and the most helpful girls in town,” she said.

FINALIST: Victoria’s Secret

Caterer

Pure Joy Catering

111 E. Haley St., 963-5766

It’s such an honor to know that people voted for us,” said Pure Joy catering owner Lynette La Mere. “We’re so blessed, in this, our ninth year in business-we have a brand-new building and now this. It’s really been a great year.” The reason for their success sometimes has more to do with what they represent, she added. “I think we’re there for the great part of [people’s lives]-the happy part.”

FINALIST: Rincon Beach Club & Catering

Florist

Victor the Florist

135 E. Anapamu St., 965-3075

A few businesses in this town have something like iconic status-McConnell’s Ice Cream, Joe’s Cafe, and, particularly because of its location and beautiful neon signs, Victor the Florist. Here since 1930-when Victor Sourmany opened the store dedicated to floral excellence during the hard times, and now with his grandchildren weathering more financial crisis days-Victor the Florist is a symbol, a mainstay like the Courthouse across the street, representing the kind of aesthetic values that keep this town kind of iconic itself.

FINALIST: Riley’s Flowers

Wedding Cake Shop

Henning’s Cake Boutique

28 W. Figueroa St., 965-6107

For half a decade now, Laxman Perera has owned the store that for generations was run by the Henning family, who made it the premier birthday/wedding/anniversary/any-old-occasion cake store in town. But don’t for one moment think that Perera has changed a recipe or streamlined the traditional Henning way of memorializing the many layers of life’s meaning in frosting. The proof? Five years later, in a decade when big-box stores can do giant confections for cheap, the readers still love the place.

FINALIST: Montecito Confections

Place to Buy Jewelry

Bryant & Sons, Ltd.

812 State St., 966-9187; 1482 E. Valley Rd., #37, Montecito, 565-4411

Bryant & Sons has an interesting catchphrase for its advertising: “When promising her the stars is just the beginning.” But Bryant & Sons is surprisingly more than just a way to win-or retrieve-her heart. There’s jewelry for men, including beautiful arrays of fine art watches, and it’s also a nice place to get little baubles for your friends and family, too. Of course, the most anxious time anyone experiences near gems is the selection of engagement and wedding rings. Here, beside Bryant & Sons’ wide selection, stand its 40-plus years in business in this small-if well-heeled-town. If you can make it here, you must have forged a fine reputation. And the readers insist it’s sterling.

FINALIST: Tiffany & Co.

Limo Service

Taxi Service

Rockstar Taxi & Limousine

882-9191

It may be slightly confusing to look up this company on the Internet-it blurs in with the energy drink and a host of other similar services in towns stretching from Seattle to Boston. But, believe it or not, Rockstar owner James Houseman was the first to use the title-and he even has documentation to prove it. “This was a down year, there’s no doubt about it,” said Houseman, “but it’s all the better to win Best Of in a year like this.” He’s also happy because the field has grown. “When I first started seven years ago, there were 10 companies around here, now there are about 40,” he said. “So, yes, we’re very happy.”

FINALISTS: Limo Service: Spencer’s Limousine and Tours; Taxi Service: Lucky Cab

Tuxedo Rental

King Tux

22 W. Calle Laureles, 682-8888

I’d like to think people vote for us because of the excellent customer service we provide,” said King Tux owner Brian Kaylor. “But I think it also has to do with the size of our stock. Any tuxedo place can get you something in a few days, but you come to us if you want it right away,” he said. Kaylor said the celebration business was off a bit this year, but that he was doing fine. “There’s always something going on out there, and if you want any brand of tux for your event-if it’s out there, we can get it.”

FINALIST: Mission Tuxedos

Wedding Reception Location

Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort Santa Barbara

633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., 564-4333

If you’re coming to Santa Barbara to tie the knot, there’s a good chance a view of the ocean is what you have in mind. There are some choices in that department, but Fess Parker has the ocean as a background to a complex that can integrate every wedding need in one big package: great restaurants, bars, a big outdoor wind-shielded space for dining and dancing al fresco, and hey, what’s that across the street? The sea of love.

FINALIST: Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel

Stonehouse employees Erika and Justin prove just how romantic dining can get at the San Ysidro Ranch restaurant.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Stonehouse employees Erika and Justin prove just how romantic dining can get at the San Ysidro Ranch restaurant.

Romantic Restaurant

The Stonehouse

900 San Ysidro Ln., 565-1700

The San Ysidro Ranch has a long history of romance,” said Tamara Fangman, director of sales and marketing for the place where Jackie-O and JFK honeymooned once upon a time even before Camelot. “It’s 100 years old, after all. Certainly the reason that readers voted for The Stonehouse is the beautiful ambience. We just finished a renovation in 2007 and there’s nothing like it in Santa Barbara, I think I can say not in Southern California, either. Eating out under the stars, it’s magical.”

FINALIST: bouchon

Sunset Cruise Boat

Double Dolphin

Santa Barbara Harbor, 962-2826

Besides the obvious reasons (sunset, sailboat, ocean, romance), there are other compelling features that make a Double Dolphin cruise popular. “We only charge $20,” explained sunset charter manager Sherry Lutz. “So all you have to do is go to an ATM, take out $40, and you have a great date.” Aside from the timely economical issues, Lutz firmly believes that the cruise is ecologically sound (they use sails instead of carbon fuels whenever possible) and a wise purchase (the boat is safe and crew members are friendly and skilled). Oh, and one other thing: It’s beautiful out there in the Channel, and they often see dolphins and seals. “In a sailboat, you’re down close to the water, and you feel like you can almost touch them,” she said.

FINALIST: Condor Express

Bed & Breakfast Inn

The Upham Hotel & Country House

1404 De la Vina St., 962-0058

Half a century ago, English novelist Aldous Huxley came to town to teach a class at UCSB. One of the reasons he was compelled to do so, according to his biographer, was that he liked to stay at the “dear old Upham.” Even back then it had a lot of history and charm. Today, it’s still popular-the food is great, too-but, who knows, the best way to get your distinguished friends to visit you might be suggesting the Upham. They can say that Aldous sent them.

FINALIST: Simpson House Inn

Wedding Photographer

Vita-Bella Photography

1233-B State St., 637-1933

It’s been a bit of a slow year, that’s true,” admitted Amy Lundstrom, owner of Vita-Bella. “Not so many people getting married, but we also do family portraits and baby pictures, so we did alright.” Now in her seventh year of business here, the Brooks grad thinks creativity is what catches her customers’ eyes. “I like to approach everything fresh,” she said. “And I like my work to be truly reflective of the people I’m working for.”

FINALIST: Kacie Jean

Pismo Beach's Amanda Martin found the perfect dress for her October wedding at Anna Maria's Bridal Boutique.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Pismo Beach’s Amanda Martin found the perfect dress for her October wedding at Anna Maria’s Bridal Boutique.

Bridal Shop

Anna Maria’s Bridal Boutique

3891 State St., #107, 687-5054

The State Street business, managed by Veronica Cabello, has been busily arraying bridal parties for 23 years now. Celebrations like this, of the once-in-a-lifetime variety, involve a lot of anxiety and even more perfectionism; Anna Maria’s cannot have survived with anything less than overwhelming its clients with more than the best of everything from service to The Gown. It’s more than a set of business vows to them, it’s their lifelong reputation.

FINALIST: MaryLinn’s Bridals and Tuxedos

Wedding Planner

Melissa Sylvester, Rincon Beach Club & Catering

(877) 574-6266

She began as a food worker at Rincon Beach Club & Catering after graduating from culinary school. Gradually, she became more interested, as she put it, “in the front of the house” rather than being sequestered in the kitchen. An opening came up in the wedding planning department, and now the rest is history, confirmed by the will of our voting readers. “I think they voted for me because I’m friendly and I really like brides,” she said. “I am totally excited that I won.”

FINALIST: Kandie Koed, Pacific Islands Media

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