Best of Santa Barbara® 2020
by Leslie Dinaberg
An institution since 1974, Chaucer’s Books is honored once again. “We believe locally owned businesses are part of the rich fabric of our community, but in these times, they require all of our support to help them survive and thrive again,” said GM Greg Feitt. “If you love a place, support it! Our literary community is of particular importance to us, and we encourage you to support The Book Den, Tecolote, Lost Horizon, Mesa Books, and Metro Entertainment, to name just a few.”
Runner-Up: The Book Den
The Apple Store
No one likes to have technical difficulties, but instead of watching your blood pressure rise as that annoying rainbow pinwheel of frustration twirls round and round and round on your device, the Apple Store is there to provide hands-on hardware support for Apple products. Once again our readers’ choice for Best Computer Repair service, the ever-patient tech-support staff at the State Street store recently reopened to help us keep our tech in tip-top shape.
Musical Instrument Store
Jensen Guitar & Music Co.
Strumming their way into our hearts since 1973, Jensen Guitar & Music Co. President Chris Jensen said being named the best means that “maybe we’re still doing right by our customers. Even with the cloud of the global pandemic, the silver lining is that many of you now find yourselves at home more and have reunited with your musical instruments and talents. We appreciate that many of you chose to have us help in that reunion.”
Runner-Up: Nick Rail Music
It was a bittersweet Best Of victory for Plum Goods, Santa Barbara’s favorite gift shop for almost a decade. “It broke our hearts to have to close our doors,” said owner Amy Cooper, who’s kept selling via plumgoodsstore.com and at Zone Studios (121 Santa Barbara St.). “We are hoping to stay alive and be able to reopen somewhere in 2021. Your support means the world to us, and we miss your faces!”
Runner-Up: Paradise Found
Art/Craft Supply Store
Serving locals with an impressive selection of products for both beginning hobbyists and professional artists since 1987, Art Essentials is once again Indy readers’ pick for Best Art/Craft Supply Store. The comments from readers speak for themselves: “large selection of supplies and knowledgeable staff” (Caity); “huge variety of supplies with fair prices” (Jessica); “I always find what I want, and I love their specialty wrapping papers; divine” (Lisa); and “a great selection of art supplies, great cards, and fun gifts” (Candace).
The perfect frame for your most treasured artworks — everything from photographs, paintings, or your children’s arts and crafts creations — can be found at this big-box retailer. The Goleta Michaels store is part of the largest arts and crafts retail chain in North America and stocks just about everything you would ever need when you’re feeling crafty.
Runner-Up: The Frame-Up
With two stores in Goleta and one downtown, Kyle’s Kitchen was our readers’ top choice for Curbside Pickup, a new category for this year’s Best of Santa Barbara® selections. In addition to offering a regulated process for pickup orders, reader Emily pointed out, “They give back to the community and have been helping feed special-needs families during the pandemic.” Over the years, Kyle’s Kitchen has donated nearly $200,000 to charitable special-needs causes.
Runner-Up: Santa Barbara Public Market
Bank * Mortgage Company
Montecito Bank & Trust
After celebrating its 45th anniversary at the start of the global pandemic, Montecito Bank & Trust had to quickly adapt its business operations “to continue serving our communities while ensuring the safety of our clients and associates,” said Chair/CEO Janet Garufis. “Providing support to our community during a time like this is what community banking is all about. Their trust and loyalty is also directly tied to our ability to annually donate over $1.5 million back into our communities — a number that consistently increases because of a growing customer base.”
Runner-Up (Bank): Chase Bank
Runner-Up (Mortgage Company): Homeowners Financial Group
Place to Work
University of California, Santa Barbara
Proud to be recognized for the fourth consecutive year, “the university is a unique environment that thrives on academic exploration, cutting-edge research, and the vital exchange of ideas,” said spokesperson Andrea Estrada. “Faculty and staff members share a commitment to the university’s three-pronged mission of teaching, research, and public service, and to helping shape the next generation of national and international leaders. We value our relationship with the community — the wellspring of our workforce — and appreciate opportunities to be of service.”
Runner-Up: Montecito Bank & Trust
“Beyond our stunning grounds and beautiful architecture, we are truly distinguished by a wonderful team that really puts the heart and soul into our community,” said Executive Director Ruth Grande. “From our delicious, gourmet dining delivered with a smile to our supportive services with a personal touch or our full calendar of wellness opportunities, we are a family of professionals dedicated to helping our residents thrive.”
Runner-Up: Casa Dorinda
AAA — Automobile Club of Southern California
AAA is doing virtual travel shows “to take people away virtually, until we can get them there in person,” said branch manager Chris Olvera. “We just want to reassure everyone we are not going anywhere. We’ve been in Santa Barbara for over 100 years, and this isn’t our first pandemic. We continue to work with our suppliers to overcome hurdles that the travel industry continues to go through. We are and will continue to always be with you.”
Runner-Up: Santa Barbara Travel Bureau
Charles Sciutto at Healing Heart Herbs & Acupuncture
“Physical and emotional challenges have been heightened in 2020. I am thankful for the continued trust of our patients to meet their needs. Our clinic has remained open continuously throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, ensuring we are available to mitigate pain, calm fears, and maintain community,” said Sciutto. “Working with our patients has kept me motivated and hopeful for the future. My wife, Joy, and I are truly honored to work with such fantastic people.”
Runner-Up: Mary Tingaud
This award “means that my patients value the commitment that I make to them to support them in their health and wellness goals, and that they trust me to provide specific, safe, affordable, everyday wellness care,” said Dr. Justine Bellefeuille, owner of Goodland Chiropractic. “It means that they are happy with the results that they are receiving under care in my office. This is the dream.”
Runner-Up: Barry Family Chiropractic
Dr. David Phreaner
“With all of the great family doctors in our area, this is quite an honor,” said Dr. David Phreaner. “I feel like Sansum Clinic and my amazing staff deserve most of the credit. Working for Sansum for the past 25 years has allowed me to just focus on my patients. They take care of almost all of the insurance hassles and the business of running a practice.” Phreaner also gave kudos to his staff members Natalie, Monique, and Karen.
Runner-Up: Dr. David L. Birken
Pura Luna Women’s Apothecary
“We are humbled in gratitude by all the love we have received from this community and from all who voted for us. Thank you so much for supporting us so that we can support you,” said founder/owner Ashe Brown. Designed to be a sacred space for women, the apothecary had to shut down in March because of the pandemic. They restructured the website to accommodate online orders and are now happily welcoming customers back to the shop.
Runner-Up: Charles Sciutto at Healing Heart Herbs & Acupuncture
The Farmacy Santa Barbara
“As a new business in a new category, we really didn’t know what to expect,” said owner Graham Farrar. “Luckily, what we found in Santa Barbara is a whole lot of folks who were really glad that we were here. It feels really good to be appreciated. I will never forget the lady working at a local restaurant who bought me lunch to thank us for opening our doors because she no longer had to drive to Port Hueneme to get her medicine.”
Runner-Up: Coastal Dispensary
Dr. Thomas Blake
“We are flattered and humbled to receive this year’s award,” said Dr. Thomas Blake, who had to close his office for two months. “During that time, we went on the ‘world’s most challenging scavenger hunt,’ collecting PPE, disinfectants, and new equipment. Even before science confirmed aerosol transmission, our practice had installed medical-grade air filtration, aerosol extractors, high-volume suction, hypochlorous acid foggers, and an extensive screening process to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Runner-Up: Montecito Dental Group
White & Grube Orthodontics
“The challenges of 2020 have only sharpened our attention to the health and safety of our patients and community,” said Dr. Brett Grube, whose White & Grube Orthodontics practice has won for 12 years in a row. “[This honor] compliments our commitment to our patients and the community we love so much. It means our dedication to perfectionism and how we care for each patient is valued and appreciated by our town.”
Runner-Up: Ferris Orthodontic Group
Eye & Vision Care
The ayes had it once again for Eye & Vision Care, which has been in business for more than 30 years. “We are meeting our goal of taking care of our patients,” said co-owner/optometrist Dr. Luke Werkhoven. “In our industry, seeing is believing, and we want to provide a memorable service experience that they are happy to share with their friends and family.”
Runner-Up: Bream Optometry
Licensed Massage Therapist
Deep Tissue Massage Center
“Over the past 25 years, we have worked hard to support and help the people of Santa Barbara,” said owner/massage therapist Colin Silverman, who’s worked alongside his wife/partner, Jill Wayne Silverman, for the past 10 years. “It’s wonderful to have the appreciation reflected back to us by our clients and community.”
Runner-Up: Kathryn Pieron
* This asterisk indicates the winner won in multiple categories.