Best of Santa Barbara® 2020
by Leslie Dinaberg
Pure Joy Catering
Being named the best means the world to Lynette La Mere and the Pure Joy Catering team. “Catering is our life,” she said. “We love it, and this year has really shown us who we are and how important what we do is to the lives of our clients and to us. We are outstanding at our craft, and that is satisfying and rewarding. Getting these accolades makes our life’s work more valuable. We miss you, and we will see you very soon!”
Runner-Up: Events by Rincon
Riley’s Flowers is our readers’ pick for Best Florist for the fifth year in a row, with no sign of slowing down this family-run operation, which began as a street flower stand in the 1970s. As reader Amy said, “They are the best; arrangements, availability, everything.” Whether your flower arrangement is one of their daily deliveries or you design a bouquet for yourself by digging into the beautiful blossoms at their European-style bucket shop downtown, Riley’s Flowers are sure to bring a smile.
Runner-Up: Kaleidoscope Flowers
Mayra Romero Photography
Owner Mayra Romero celebrated her first year in business on June 1. “I built my clientele over the years and finally had the courage to pursue my photography career full time,” she said. “I definitely didn’t expect a global pandemic during my first year in business, but I keep telling myself, ‘If I can get through this year, I can get through any year. I am only going up from here.’”
Runner-Up: Ashleigh Taylor Portrait
Winning Best Stationery Store once again, Paper Source is a colorful wonderland of thoughtful gifts (try the quarterly subscription boxes for something fun), unique wrapping paper, personalized stationery and labels, and quirky calendars. They’ve got you covered if you’re looking to scrapbook about your latest trip, create and send handmade invitations for your next big soirée (remember those?), or personalize your stationery to pen actual letters to friends.
Runner-Up: Letter Perfect Stationery
Tyler Speier Events
“The very nature of our jobs is to bring people together, and that’s the very thing we cannot do right now,” said Tyler Speier, who started planning events as a college student to help pay his tuition. “I had no intention of ever making it my career.” They’ve gone from producing budget-friendly soirees to full-blown weddings that are setting the trends for years to come. “Now 11 years later, I am so incredibly honored to be named the Best Wedding Planner in Santa Barbara.”
Runner-Up: Jill & Co. Events
Santa Barbara Historical Museum
“Sadly, we closed our doors to visitors on March 13, canceling lectures, 1st Thursdays, and film screenings, along with weddings and our largest fundraiser of the year,” said Deputy Director Dacia Harwood. The event rental revenue is critical to keeping the museum running. Nearly 40 weddings had to be rescheduled during the pandemic, mostly moved to 2021. She said, “We recently began hosting ceremonies again, mostly intimate elopements, some of which have been shared by our couples across the world via Zoom.”
Runner-Up: Rincon Beach Club
DJ Darla Bea
It’s five Best Ofs in a row for DJ Darla Bea. While deejaying a wedding at Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Bea was playing “Lights” by Journey when the band’s lead singer, Steve Perry (a guest), came up and asked, “Are they paying you to play my music?” “I said, ‘Well, technically yes.’” She played Journey songs all night, ending with “Don’t Stop Believin’” — holding onto that feeling as the bride and groom were lifted into the air to crowd surf over a sea of singing people.
Runner-Up: DJ Hecktik
Wedding Cake Shop
“The pandemic has really hit the wedding industry hard, so with that part of our business diminished, we have tried to maintain relationships with fellow wedding industry professionals, doing styled shoots and keeping our creative juices flowing until we can all have a big party when this is over,” said proprietor Gillian Muralles. “We are so grateful that State Street has been closed to cars. It has helped our business tremendously, and we hope the State Street Promenade becomes a permanent fixture.”
Runner-Up: Enjoy Cupcakes
“We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to top-quality products, first-class service, and going the extra mile to help with our clients’ special events,” said owner John Murray. “The event industry as a whole has been greatly affected by COVID-19, with proms canceled, weddings postponed or vastly scaled back, and fundraisers nonexistent. Our business depends on referrals and reviews, and what is better than the kindness of Indy readers?”
Runner-Up: Men’s Wearhouse
A and J Limousine
Our readers love the rock-star treatment they get from A and J Limousine and voted them Best Limo Service for the third year in a row. “Their drivers are sooooo nice! They are my limo of choice, and I will always call them first. They have very nice cars, too. They’re always clean,” said reader Carol. “Always on time, with efficient, polite drivers,” said reader Patricia.
Runner-Up: LL Transportation
Bella Vista Designs
“We are so honored to receive this award. Bella Vista Designs is a family-owned-and-run business. Our incredible employees have made us who we are today. We are so grateful to each and every one of them,” said Director of Operations Cristina Bentley. “For us, to be the ‘best,’ we feel like the community respects us and sees the hard work we put in to make our events shine.”
Runner-Up: Town & Country Event Rentals
Restaurant with a View
[See Drinking: Bloody Mary]
Bed & Breakfast/Inn
In continuous operation since 1898, the charming Upham Hotel is the local favorite for intimate hospitality. As reader Diana said, “The experience the Upham offers is absolutely unique! The staff is beyond friendly and helpful. Their homemade breakfast is amazing … and their complimentary wine tasting during sunset is wonderful because you can grab a glass of one of their local wines and sit outside in their outdoor garden and enjoy the quaint and relaxing setting. This hotel is a gem!”
Runner-Up: Santa Barbara Inn
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
“We are honored to be recognized, once again, as the ‘Best Hotel’ in the Santa Barbara Independent’s Best Of,” said General Manager Karen Earp. “Thank you to our local Santa Barbara community and our wonderful guests for supporting Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. We are so looking forward to welcoming our team and guests back to the resort in 2021.”
Runner-Up: Rosewood Miramar Beach
* This asterisk indicates the winner won in multiple categories.