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Michael Bryant

Paul Wellman

Michael Bryant


Best of 2013: Falling in Love


Place to Buy Intimate Apparel

A Tropical Affair

12 E. Cota St., 730-1625

“It’s so cool to win,” said owner Heather Taylor, who confessed that she was the one who suggested to Indy staff that this category be included and then lost two years to a large national emporium of underthings, whose name shall remain secret. “In December, we will have been here for 13 years, and we feel so blessed to have made it through the bad economy. We want to thank our loyal customers. The thing that people don’t know about us is that we have a register where women can come in and see something to die for and put it down,” she said. Significant others, perhaps not so skilled at this type of shopping, need only come in and voilà! Worries are over, and fun has just begun.

FINALIST: VICTORIA’S SECRET

Caterer

Pure Joy Catering

111 E. Haley St., 963-5766

“Our specialty is listening,” said Pure Joy owner Lynette La Mere. “What I love best is melding our ethnicities.” In other words, the wedding and other parties they cater are made up of people from Australia to Zambia, and they try to put together parties that make everybody happy. “The other day we made food for a Sumatran grandmother. We loved making the grandmother smile. I’m so grateful for this; we’ve been at this so long,” she said — 14 years to be exact. “Helping people celebrate, it’s an incredible gift.”

FINALIST: OMNI FRESCO CATERING

Florist

Victor the Florist

135 E. Anapumu St., 965-3075

It’s all in the family, even though the names have changed since Victor Sourmany first opened this store in 1930. Today, it belongs to RaeAnne Alvarado, who is a third-generation descendant but completely part of Victor’s vision, according to Melanie Brainard, who’s worked in the store a couple of decades herself. “It is the oldest store, but people also like us because we guarantee our work,” she said. “We only use fresh flowers, but if something goes wrong, we fix it.” Victor, she feels, would approve.

FINALIST: RILEY’S FLOWERS

Bridal Shop

Panache Bridal

1315 State St., 892-4000

“Oh my gosh, it has to be our customer service,” said manager Kimberly Allen. “From the second you walk in, you are made to feel important — and you are.” Besides the service, though, Allen believes there is an appealing range of dresses available for nearly every wedding’s budget. We have price ranges all across the board. Besides that, we pride ourselves in having dresses for the very voluptuous.” You don’t need to leave town to find a gown, she said. “I want this place to be the experience I would want.”

FINALIST: LA SOIE BRIDAL

Wedding Cake Shop

Wayne Kjar Cakes

2018 Cliff Dr., 845-5519

“We are very excited to win,” said Wayne Kjar, who cracked open this category almost immediately after opening up on the Mesa. “I think it’s quality, consistency, and delivering on time. Doing what is expected,” he said. “Most people don’t know that we are not upset by last-minute orders. But I think the best thing is a testimony we got online from one of our customers who wrote, ‘Even though they knew our budget was small, they never made us feel like second-class citizens.’ I like that,” said Kjar.

FINALIST: MONTECITO CONFECTIONS

Tuxedo Rental

Mission Tuxedos

135 W. Mission St., 569-3334

John Murray’s Mission Street establishment has been the place where nervous suitors go to look fine for their fair ladies — whether it’s for prom night or for marriage — since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. They carry formal couture — penguin suits — from four designers and an in-house brand. If Leontes was right that clothes oft proclaim the man, then this store is where you go to make a suave noise.

FINALIST: KING TUX

Place to Buy Jewelry

Bryant and Sons

Two locations

Bling bling bling went my heartstrings, or something like that, says the old sweet song. Gentlemen have surprised sweethearts and, truth be told, got out of hot water with gems and riches from these family-owned S.B. stores for half a century. And women have reminded men to be prompt with timepieces from the likes of Patek Phillippe and Cartier. The Bryants pride themselves for carrying festoonery for all budgets, from sweet mementos to memories that potentially span many lifetimes. Square cut or pear-shaped, this is where the town shops for best friends.

FINALIST: 33 JEWELS

Romantic Restaurant

The Stonehouse

San Ysidro Ranch, 900 San Ysidro Ln., 565-1724

Imagine it’s a setting, a play about love. It’s summertime on the patio on a Friday night, creek side, ocean view, stars winking above. When it isn’t warm, we go indoors to a roaring fireplace in a 19th-century citrus house. Thus, the stage is set. Action starts with some fennel-dusted venison carpaccio and then moves into carbonara with jamón ibérico and truffle oil. After that, a brown-butter peach financier. Some spirits intervene, too. Then the forces opposing romance haven’t got a chance.

FINALIST: EL ENCANTO

Bed and Breakfast Inn

The Upham

1404 De la Vina St., 962-0058

Perhaps the ultimate escape is to hide in plain sight. Not that there’s anything plain about the region’s oldest working hotel. But it is right downtown within walking distance from the arts hub. At the same time, when you are in one of the grand rooms or lolling by the gardens, you feel so far removed from reality — never mind the town — that it’s easy to forget any cares. “It’s the uniqueness of the property; it has such a special character,” said general manager Jan Martin Winn. “I know what it is, and maybe it sounds corny, but the staff and the place itself are just so welcoming here.”

FINALIST: SIMPSON HOUSE INN

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