Work it out! From left: Barbara Schonfeld, Jeannie Christensen, Anne Rein, and Judi Biegen enjoy fun under the sun at Maravilla Senior Living.
Paul Wellman

Retirement Residence

Maravilla Senior Living 5486 Calle Real, 696-6000

If there is a spectrum of retired living situations that runs between care facilities and fun houses, Maravilla would resolutely lean toward the carefree joy department. Movie theaters, swimming pools, salons-heck, it sounds like the Beverly Hillbillies’ take on California here in active living S.B. It’s been voted one of the 50 best retirement homes in the country, and, even better, it’s an Indy winner two years in a row.

Finalist- Casa Dorinda Retirement Residence

Study Spot

Santa Barbara Library 40 E. Anapamu St., 962-7653

It’s tough to study in any environment short of a cloister. Distractions both active (the little brother, your cute roommate) and passive (television, stereo, or refrigerator) loom everywhere. Libraries are nice because they are fiercely monitored to remove the active distractions, and the closest you can get to a visual escape is the Internet-and that’s a study tool, remember. The downtown library is comfortable, packed with reference materials, and almost like a monastery for your brain.

Finalist- Starbucks

Mollie Vandor

Mollie Vandor’s Eye on Isla Vista columnist.

Best place to study on campus at UCSB?

“The best place to study on campus is the big, grassy area behind Buchanan Hall and adjacent to the Physical Sciences buildings, because studying and sunbathing at the same time is really the perfect metaphor for the entire UCSB experience.”

S.B.-Based Web Site

Edhat Santa Barbara

“Thank you. Even the dog’s excited,” said Edhat editor Peter Sklar. Like the other blogs in town, Sklar is grateful that the News-Press debacle gave him so much to work with (or against) this last year. But he’s also humble about what he does. “We don’t see ourselves as a news outlet so much as we are a citizens’ conversation. It’s not ours, but Santa Barbara’s Web site. We just hope to be a conduit between the news and the community.”


Copy Shop

FedEx Kinko’s 1030 State St., 966-1114; 23 S. Hope Ave., 569-5100; 5749 Calle Real, Goleta, 964-3522

The other Isla Vista business-besides Rusty’s Pizza-began in the balmy days of incense, peppermints, and a heap of civil disobedience. Quickly spreading from campus to campus, Kinko’s soon moved into the bigger office world of the private sector. Today it belongs to FedEx and we’re willing to bet that our readers pick it for very unsentimental reasons-who cares where it started; Kinko’s is open 24 hours and it’s clean, safe, and reasonably priced.

Finalist- Bill’s Copy Shop

Personnel/Temp Agency

Select Personnel Services (soon to be SelectRemedy) 687-1200

It’s a tough town, sometimes, not exactly brimming with industry or high-paid entry-level anything. Part of a nation-wide chain of employment opportunity-makers, Select likes to think of itself as the “friendly” agency. Apparently our readers feel the same way, selecting Select for its select take on natural job selection issues.

Finalist- Santa Barbara Staffing

Travel Agency

AAA Automobile Club of Southern California 3712 State St., 682-5811

You don’t need to be a member of the American Automobile Association to take advantage of the fabulous network the well-traveled group has assembled around the globe. In a town of sophisticated voyagers who require sherpas and kayaks to get around, we picked the same people who told our grandparents where to park the flivver. Some great things never change.

Finalist- Santa Barbara Travel Bureau

Travel Store

Magellan’s 110 W. Sola St., 568-5402

“It’s so wonderful to get this kind of affirmation,” said marketing director Lynn Staneff, who believes the store offers a threefold incentive to its customers: huge selection from cheap to expensive, lots of travel knowledge, and a lifetime guarantee. And, by the way, despite the recent headlines in another news outlet, they aren’t even thinking of traveling to other headquarters for at least three years.

Finalist- Pacific Travelers Supply


Santa Barbara Bank & Trust 19 locations, (888) 400-7228

It’s the bank that has our name on it. And even though it most assuredly is a large institution with many branches, departments, and interests, it’s also fairly ubiquitous in the community, running from way North County to the deep reaches of Ventura. Year after year, you, dear reader, pick SBB&T because it’s very local.

Finalist- Washington Mutual

Frame Shop

Aaron Brothers Art & Framing 601 State St., 966-3954

Begun as a frame boutique in Hollywood, California, Aaron Brothers’ appeal became quite the opposite: the idea that frames can be do-it-yourself and cheap. Besides a nice smattering of art supplies, the store employs artists and crafty folk-always a good thing-who will do the matting and color matching necessary for propitious deployment of art object toward ocular organ. Right, and cheap, too.

Finalist- Michaels Arts & Crafts

Margaret Connell

Margaret Connell’s Goleta columnist.

Favorite outdoor area in Goleta?

“The Sperling Preserve at Ellwood Mesa, Goleta’s own piece of the Gaviota Coast. You can be in the sheltered quiet of the eucalyptus groves or on the open grassy mesa with the roar of the ocean in your ears. There’s the wonder of the monarch butterfly roosts from November to March, and kites, hawks, vernal pools, and an abundance of other wildlife all year. It is also special because it was saved from development by the passion and activism of the community.”


Longs Drug Stores Seven locations

Longs has long been the one with computerized and human-like automated drug dispensing. If you have a regular prescription, you just call it in or email and the next day or so, it’s magically waiting. This last year, all the S.B. Longs initiated a service where your medicine is automatically filled and the nice computer voice calls you up and says “Come on in.” The stores are stuffed with both staples and quirky items, and some are open to the wee hours for your insomniac needs.

Finalist- Rite Aid Pharmacy

Weight Loss Program

Weight Watchers (800) 651-6000

If America is in the middle of an obesity epidemic, then Weight Watchers might become the cure. Based on group support systems, calorie consciousness, and positive reinforcement, the WW system has maintained its extreme popularity with our readers.

Finalist- Martial Arts Family Fitness

Acupuncturist Lonnie Wu, OMD, LAc, RN 682-2153

The doyenne of S.B.’s alternative medicine and therapy world is out on a well-deserved vacation. Wu is known to have a wicked set of healing needles, but is even better known for the deep empathy she imparts in her homey clinic where the science of health meets the art of humanistic warmth.

Finalist- Lori A. Guynes, LAc

Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Hortipharm Caregivers 4 W. Calle Laureles, 563-2802

At press time, this medical marijuana dispensary was working in a legal limbo, clearly helping many but subject to federal interdiction and as yet unresolved, potent controversies. Yet the motivations of the staff seem very sound. “We’re busier than we even want to be,” said Joe. “[The owner of this store] made extensive efforts to make this a warm and comfortable environment where different people can rub elbows or remain relatively private if they wish.” Many of the people who come in are suffering and face pain for the rest of their lives. “This place is comfortable, warm, and friendly and run by caring people strictly by the book,” he said.

Finalist- Helping Hands Wellness Center

Licensed Massage Therapist

Stephen Fountain 965-5339

Having been voted best massage therapist 14 years in a row is a humbling experience, said Stephen Fountain. “I continue to give thanks to the higher power that works through me and to my incredible, loyal clients,” he said. Fountain works in Swedish, deep tissue, sports, and relaxation techniques, and each massage is geared toward the client’s specific needs.

Finalist- Cynthia Lore


Dr. John Craviotto (Craviotto Family Chiropractic) 2922 De la Vina St., 563-0007; 90 W. Hwy. 246, Buellton, 688-5545

A sixth generation Santa Barbaran, John Craviotto believes in family-as can be seen in the title of his business. Believing strongly in keeping customers not only healthy but happy as well, Craviotto has won two years in a row, which may automatically prove his hypothesis.

Finalist- Dr. Aaron Austin


Dr. J. David Dart 1819 State St., Ste. A, 687-2400

Being considered the best dentist is an honor, especially because it is a service few people are chomping at the bit to have done. But a beloved dentist means a sharp reduction in the community level of anxiety, and Dr. Dart, who has taken this award in the past, shows he has been a hero to people in pain, and that’s the tooth.

Finalist- Dr. Brian D. Frederick


Dr. Thomas F. Burke 6831 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 968-3937; 800 N. Milpas St., 963-2020

“Oh, cool; I’m thrilled,” said Dr. Burke. In practice since 1978, Thomas Burke’s Milpas Street and Hollister Avenue offices combine friendly service and a rather zazzy selection of frames. “I love the plaque. I have one up on my wall and a second one will look great, too,” he said. “But I think the real secret is my staff. People come in just to see them. I’m just a sidelight. They are the greatest.”

Finalist- Dr. Taka Nomura

Hotel/Motel for Your Relatives

Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort Santa Barbara 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., 564-4333

“I am so excited,” said Beth Olson, director of sales and marketing at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree beachfront hotel. “Our whole culture here is based on making you feel comfortable and at home. So if that has permeated the community to the point where people feel comfortable making their families feel at home here, then I guess we’ve done our job well.”

Finalist- Upham Hotel


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