Owner Bob Nemo generally refrains from suggesting what customers should order when they dine in the 1850 home that is now his upscale establishment. Instead, guidance regarding the menu of globally inspired American cuisine comes from checking out what’s on his own plate: Chilean sea bass or Muscovy duck breast in a black-mission-fig/marsala sauce served with caramelized-onion mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. 36976 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-0061, nemogrille.com
Moosehead BBQ Grill
To create this barbecue-focused restaurant, Moosehead owner David George traveled the country to sample the best barbecue. The menu of homemade favorites features steak, seafood, barbecue and pasta in enormous portions. Claiming ownership to the best baby back ribs in town and ready to fight for the official title (watch out Bubba’s), George says the only thing you’ll eat not made from scratch is apple sauce and nacho cheese. 7660 Leavitt Road, Amherst, 440-985-7429
Combine nature, flat-screen TVs, entertainment and bar food and you’ve got Winking Lizard’s 70-seat patio. The bar was constructed around an existing tree. Overhanging tree branches provide shade to table areas. Grab a seat in the back 40, a section that’s removed from the hubbub and abutting a field. 32045 Detroit Road, Avon,
Stubby’s Pub & Grub
Bite into a traditional BLT, or stray from the norm with spin-offs like Fat Boy sandwiches that feed three to six people. For the truly daring, try the Nightmare, a football-sized Fat Boy made of half-pound of corned beef, a half pound of gyro meat, one-fourth of a pepperoni and another half pound of Swiss cheese. 114 Antioch Drive, Elyria, 440-365-7882
Hot Dog Heaven
If you thought hot dogs were stuck in a ketchup and mustard rut, think again. Hot Dog Heaven has tons of topping combinations, from the tame chili sauce and melted cheddar combo to one regular customer’s peanut butter and mayo topping, says owner Jack O’Flanagan. Not up for anything too crazy? Try the popular BLT dog.
493 Cleveland Ave., Amherst, 440-988-7404, 35954 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-937-4473, hotdogheavenohio.com
From a pistachio-and-coffee-crusted steak to the organic buffalo steak straight from South Dakota, this steakhouse “is not your daddy’s steakhouse,” as owner Ron Larson puts it. Using certified Angus beef from the top 8 percent of beef around the world, Larson trades unconventional recipes with friends to create a-not-so-typical steak dinner. 36840 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-9900, stripsteakhouse.com
Brothers Ron and Craig Heldorfer are changing the menu for the first time in a decade. But Ron reassures regulars that a significant portion of the menu is in fact sacred. Fratello’s signature lemon-butter sauce, extensive wine list and by-the-glass selections will remain. 32085 Electric Blvd., Avon Lake, 440-933-3380, fratellos.net
Luchita’s Mexican Restaurant
This locally owned-and-operated cantina continues to defy the sombrero-and-maracas stereotype with a sleek contemporary decor and an innovative menu. The latest example: tacos tontos, flash-fried corn masa turnovers stuffed with chicken and anejo cheese, then topped with cabbage and onions marinated in vinegar and fresh lime juice. 1134 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-365-0094, luchita.com
There’s takeout and then there’s Weia Teia. Stashed in Oberlin, this town-secret bistro offers Asian cuisine with a gourmet twist. First-timers are encouraged to try a lunch favorite: chicken cheesecake. It’s not cheesecake like you’d expect, but all white meat chicken baked in a sweet sauce and topped with mozzarella. Manager Derrick Luu suggests washing it down with a glass of mango iced tea. 9 S. Main St., Oberlin, 440-774-8880, weiateia.com
Bubba’s-Q World Famous
B-B-Q & Catering
Former NFL player Al “Bubba” Baker carried on his family’s BBQ tradition when he opened Bubba’s-Q, and he’s serious about his ribs. “No one is coming here to see a 20-year retired old football player, they’re coming here for the food,” he says. With meaty ribs that are dry-rubbed and marinated to perfection, people keep coming back. 820 Center Road, Avon, 440-937-7859, bubbasqdining.com
Creekside Brewhouse & Tavern
Creekside has a wing up on other restaurants. All of the tavern’s sauces are original recipes and the wings are always made fresh to order. Ranging from the traditional mild wing to the more daring hot garlic wing, there is a spice to suit everyone. 37040 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-4476
Nothing says lunch like a good sandwich, and Rubin’s Deli can prove it. From pastrami to ham or turkey, Rubin’s menu is sandwich central. But for a true classic, try the Reuben sandwich, served to perfection on grilled rye bread. 616 Leona St., Elyria, 440-324-3666, 312 Chestnut Commons Drive, Elyria, 440-366-0607
Fiesta Jalapenos Mexican Grill
Burritos are best served big. Made from scratch with fresh ingredients, the Hernandez family has stuffed these expansive flour tortillas with meat, cheese and veggies for more than 10 years. Feeling adventurous? Top your burrito with cheese and salsa ranchero for an extra $1.50. 35051 Center Ridge Road, North Ridgeville, 440-327-1431, fiestajalapenos.com
Homemade sauce, freshly baked dough and provolone shredded right in the store are only a few of the highlights at Angelina’s. Its real Italian sausage — “not the pre-cooked stuff,” says co-owner Joe Huber — is one of the most popular toppings, and the award-winning seafood pizza, with lobster cream sauce, shrimp and crab meat, draws repeat customers.
512 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-366-1944, angelinaspizza.com
Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery
There’s never a day-old doughnut at Kiedrowski’s, where bakers begin making doughnuts at 11 p.m. Its newest creation was born when owner Tim Kiedrowski encountered a variety of maple-flavored foods. The result: a doughnut with maple frosting and pieces of bacon on top. 2267 Cooper Foster Park Road, Amherst, 440-282-2700, kiedrobakery.com
Every little bit helps — at least that’s Arabica’s philosophy. Coffee beans aren’t ground until the drink is ordered, and Arabica doesn’t use beans more than a week after they’ve been roasted. 5322 Abbe Road, Sheffield Village, 440-934-0900, arabicaofsheffield.com
Prepare to be knocked out by this bakery’s cream-filled pastries, fluffy cakes and that oh-so-delectable, fresh-baked smell. Whether you’re craving paczkis (punch-keys) oozing jelly or flaky, butter-glazed and cream-cheese-stuffed snoogles, every item in this dessert heaven is guaranteed to have left the oven no more than 12 hours prior to entering your pie hole. 2267 Cooper Foster Park Road, Amherst, 440-282-2700, kiedrobakery.com
Catherine’s satisfies candy cravings for customers such as brides, moms-to-be and the Lake Erie Crushers. Besides the favorite Sandstone Crabs, new Art Nouveaux Truffles in Key lime, lemon and orange brighten up a sweets box. Catherine, the owner, will sell caramel apples, fudge and other treats during the September Fall into Avon Festival. 36718 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-4240
The 21-year-old, walk-up ice cream shop has plenty of new flavors for your taste buds. Mix in gummi worms, malt balls or Golden Oreos to try a new Twister flavor. If you’re hungry for homemade food, the pizza burger, sausage sandwich or fried cheesecake satisfy any sweet or salty cravings. 230 Cleveland St., Elyria, 440-365-2550
Paul’s Beverage Warehouse
Stop by the monthly dinners, when guests are both entertained and educated by winemakers from as far as Napa Valley and beer makers from as close as nearby Thirsty Dog Brewery. On a normal day, let owner Paul Bires talk you into trying the sweet muscato instead of the dry reds you’ve been dreading. He’ll be opening a wine bar in Amherst after the first of the year.
638 Lake Ave., Elyria, 440-322-1088, paulsbeverage.com
This local deli has been a fixture for almost 20 years, and its huge menu satisfies even the pickiest eaters. With turkey club sandwiches, Reuben burgers and steak dinners among its options, there’s something for everyone.
616 Leona St., Elyria, 440-324-3666, 312 Chestnut Commons Drive, Elyria, 440-366-0607
United Polish Club
For more than 20 years, the UPC has been serving fried fish and hearty sides to its hungry and loyal customers. Members and their guests are treated to five pieces of quality Blue Ribbon fish and two sides for $12.50, kitchen head Vicki Dakters says. If coleslaw and fries aren’t your perfect pairing, consider beer-battered onion rings, cabbage-and-noodles or mac ’n cheese instead. 1501 Middle Ave., 440-322-6829, Elyria
Beggars can’t be choosers, but at Spitzer, beggars can get whatever they want. With a wide array of catering options from simple coffee service for early morning conferences to fine china dinners for events, the center does more than just cater to the needs of clients — it spoils them. 1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-366-4100, lorainccc.edu
The Unicorn’s popularity is based in part on its versatility. People show up at the cozy pub-style eatery in everything from jeans to dresses and suits to nosh on an established please-all menu of sandwiches, salads, seafood, steaks, pasta and a smattering of dishes that reflect what co-owner Gail Flanigan calls “Irish flair.” The patron favorite is bourbon salmon, a salmon fillet soaked in a bourbon marinade and grilled. But Flanigan takes pride in the Connemara chicken — a chicken breast sauteed with bacon, mushrooms and red onions and served in a cream sauce whipped up with Irish Mist liqueur — the recipe for which she found in a old Irish inn’s cookbook.
Variety is supplied by daily specials and seasonal offerings such as the clambake-in-a-bowl, an entree containing clams, redskin potatoes, sweet corn and a choice of tilapia or chicken in a cream sauce. The house dessert, creme brulee, has been changing with the calendar over the past year. Expect a rich pumpkin creme brulee in the fall, a decadent triple-chocolate version around Valentine’s Day, a variant spiked with Bailey’s Irish Cream on St. Patrick’s Day, and a variety made with white chocolate and Key lime juice in the summer.
423 N. Main St., Grafton, 440-926-2621, graftonunicorn.com
Mama Jo Homestyle Pies
We fell in love with Mama Jo pies at first bite. Owner Johanna Mann makes them entirely from scratch using her mother’s modified recipes and all the ingredients docs say are bad for you. The fillings are concocted with white sugar, butter and whole milk.
The selection, which averages 34 on any given day, includes everything from apple and pumpkin to pina colada, a coconut pie with fresh crushed pineapple and pina colada flavoring in the filling. Mann is even preparing to introduce banana split pie, layers of French Silk (chocolate) filling, banana pudding, fresh strawberries in glaze, and vanilla pudding laced with fresh crushed pineapple, all topped with chocolate and chopped nuts. If you can’t keep yourself from finishing off the whole thing in a single sitting, sit down and relax in the store with a slice and cup of coffee or tea. 1969 Cooper Foster Park Road, Amherst, 440-960-PIES or 888-354-PIES, mamajopies.com
The Smitty Burger — a quarter-pound double-decker, distinguished by a middle bun — gets rave reviews because of the simple things: two fresh beef patties with enough fat to actually give them some flavor; a toasted sesame-seed bun that’s hot to the touch when it arrives at the table; and a mayonnaise-based special sauce that has a following in and of itself. The standard toppings — American cheese, shredded lettuce and the aforementioned sauce — haven’t changed since current owner Steve Frank first introduced the sandwich in 1991.
“But we’ve had people who’ve added bacon, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, everything that you can possibly think of,” says Frank’s daughter, Stephanie Forthofer, who serves as general manager.
Loyal fans still talk about the time when part of the Smitty Burger experience was sitting at the counter and watching the cook grill and build it. Those days ended in 2006, when the bar and grill moved from its original East Broad Street location to its present-day address, where food is prepared in a separate kitchen. Diners now have the option of enjoying a Smitty Burger in the large, family-friendly dining room or out on the patio. 368 E. Bridge St., Elyria, 440-323-9708, smittyselyria.com
Family Dining (non-chain):
Nancy’s Main Street Diner
Denise and Rick Shutek became full owners of the diner Denise’s parents operated for more than 20 years. In 2008, the couple made headlines by moving Boston’s legendary Big Dig Diner, complete with original 1949 floor, to Grafton and adding it onto the front of the existing building.
The latest additions to the mommy-food menu include a trio of specialty burgers and hickory-smoked barbecue so tender the meat falls off the bone. Nancy’s selection of fruit pies is now augmented by Denise’s from-scratch creations. The Brandy Candy Cake is a triple-layer fudge cake made with crushed-and-melted candy bars, filled with homemade marshmallow creme blended with melted chocolate and peanut butter, then frosted in buttercream. 426 N. Main St., Grafton, 440-926-2462, nancysmainstreetdiner.com
Best Happy Hour:
Every day brings a different happy hour special at Aces’. Like more than 70 percent of the food it serves, the lobster bisque it features for happy hour on Fridays is homemade. “People think it’s better than the bisque served on the boardwalk on Put-in-Bay,” manager Drew Havanchak says. Try the $3 burger basket on Mondays, 3 for $3 tacos on Tuesdays or $5 calzones on Wednesdays. Food is only the beginning, however. From opening time until 7 p.m., Aces slashes 50 cents off every drink, and on Thursdays it offers $3 martinis and shots for Ladies’ Night. Washington Apple and black apple have rounded out shot offerings in the past. The most impressive part of Aces, though, is the breadth of its bars. The indoor bar, which is “shaped like a Tetris L-block,” takes up a third of the restaurant, and the outdoor bar sits on a patio that holds 200. That leaves plenty of space for the restaurant’s signature casino-themed entertainment, which includes a slew of impersonators during the week, from faux Deano to the King himself. 32650 Lorain Road, North Ridgeville,
With sports bars, it’s all about the TVs. Mulligan’s does not disappoint with big screens airing competitions indoors and out — and the out makes this place a winner. With 12 big screens on a spacious patio that’s heated for cool-weather use, who needs to tailgate at the stadium? After all, the Muni lot doesn’t have visits by the Labatt’s girls or chain saw woodcarving expos, but Mulligan’s does have that plus beer and great food (not to mention indoor plumbing). 38244 Colorado Ave., Avon, 440-934-6666, mulligans-avon.com
Devotees to the Corn Festival, now in its 36th year, know stereotypical attractions are not what make the event so popular. There’s free admission, rides, live entertainment and more. But people flock here every second weekend of August to eat the secret-recipe, Amish-style sweet corn. Festival co-founder John Markowsky can’t say what’s in it, but special ingredients and technique make this corn on the cob a must-have. North Ridgeville (follow the signs), 440-218-9802, nrcornfest.org
Best Bike Night:
Quaker Steak & Lube
Come at 5 p.m. on Thursdays for 50-cent boneless wings and $3 beer specials. Stay for the slew of contests, ranging from the basic — highest mileage, best paint job — to the more involved — a T-shirt toss game that tests music trivia. With a couple thousand bikes rolling in each week, you’re in good company. Live bands and a house DJ certainly don’t hurt either. 4900 Transportation Dr., Sheffield, 440-934-9464, quakersteakandlube.com
Best Live Music Venue:
Stocker Arts Center
New acts, like new foods, are good for you, even if they require a leap of faith — so says Stocker Director Janet Barlow. “If people leave and they say, ‘You know, I didn’t really like that kind of music, but that artist was really dynamite,’” she says she knows she’s done a good job. Add to that avant-garde philosophy a new speaker system through Woodsy’s of Kent and a rotating mezzanine that creates two performance spaces, and you get one powerhouse venue.
1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-366-4040, lorainccc.edu/stocker+arts+center/
The Wine Room
It’s a good deal: sampling five wines, a spread of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, and the company of fellow wine-lovers all for a mere $15. Owner Maureen O’Malley says the spirits offered every Friday and Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. are chosen according to a given theme. Events featuring Spanish and Italian wines are planned for September. 35840 Chester Road, Avon, 440-937-6544, avonswineroom.com
Stocker Arts Center
Stocker Arts Center’s programming ranges from chorale concerts to independent films to eclectic plays to small lectures. Its space is versatile, with essentially three theaters in one. The theater caters to patrons seeing live theater, visiting an art gallery event and hearing a lecture from Oberlin’s Arts and Humanities College all on the same night. 1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-366-4040, lorainccc.edu/Stocker+Arts+Center/
EMH Center for Health & Fitness
Intimidated by the beefcake pumping iron next to you at the gym? EMH’s certified staff can help you plan workouts and meet your health goals. From aquatics classes to Zumba, there are more than 120 group classes to keep you active. And a massage at the day spa is a pretty good post-workout reward. Healthway Drive, Avon, 440-988-6800, emh-healthcare.org
Lorain County Metro Parks
At Lorain County Metro Parks, the fitness trails are large and expansive, including more than 40 miles of asphalt, limestone and dirt paths for rollerblading, biking or just plain hiking, which is the most popular activity. The park system has organized walking groups — such as the Weekly Walkers — of regulars seeking exercise, fellowship and, of course, the beauty of the park. Locations throughout the county, 800-LCM-PARK,
Relay For Life of Elyria, Ohio
Relay for Life’s theme is “Cancer Doesn’t Sleep – Neither Do We.” So this overnight event begins at noon on a Saturday and continues through 8 a.m. Sunday morning. The most moving part of the experience is the Luminaria Ceremony: about 300 luminaries line a walking track. Each illuminated bag has a name written on it in honor or in memory of someone stricken with cancer. This year’s event was held at Elyria Catholic Stadium, Elyria, 888-227-6446, main.acsevents.org
Health Food Selection:
Resisting the snack aisle for the produce section can be tough, but Heinen’s makes it easy with its in-store wellness center. With a large selection of fresh produce, supplements and organic items, specialists can help customers shop for their dietary needs, says wellness consultant Cassie Paulin. 35980 Detroit Road, Avon 440-937-7660
The healthy menu at Oberlin Inn is inspired by the food pyramid. Following its guidelines on what to eat and how much (even portion sizes are according to pyramid recommendations), the kitchen turns out decadent dishes that include grilled lean proteins, healthy salads with fat-free dressings and fresh locally grown veggies. Even the wines are organic. You can ask for the sauce on the side with every dish.
7 N. Main St., Oberlin, 440-775-1111, oberlininn.com
Sprenger Health Care Centers
At Sprenger, the goal is to get some clients to leave, not stay — it’s an aggressive rehabilitation program that sets this nursing facility apart. Using upbeat activities such as Wii sports (bowling and golf are favorites), outdoor corn hole games and aquatherapy at local swimming pools, medical staff at Sprenger are able to focus on getting non-residential customers back on their feet as soon as they are ready. 3905 Oberlin Ave., Lorain, 440-989-5200, sprengerretirement.com
Best Place to Walk Your Dog:
The Carlisle Reservation
The Carlisle Reservation is a top pick for both man and his best friend. The largest of Lorain County’s Metro Parks features a new adventure for dogs at every turn and a breathtaking destination for pet owners — a plus that breaks up the monotony of walking the same route each time.
The Carlisle Reservation boasts varied terrain throughout its 1,820 acres, including wetlands, woodlands and meadows. Walking trails are intertwined throughout the park, and connect its three entrances and popular destinations: the Duck Pond picnic area featuring state-licensed fishing; Equestrian Center with a horse ring; and the Visitor’s Center. Depending on the size and strength of your dog, owners can choose among trails that range in length from 1 mile up to 4 miles.
“When I walk my dog, he always loves to sniff out new places,” says Sarah Sharp, public information officer for Lorain County Metro Parks. “There’s a lot of exploring that [dogs] can do. It’s something new and exciting every time.”
Dog owners love it, too, because doggie pots — baggie dispensers that make it convenient to clean up after dogs — are scattered throughout.
Sharp advises it’s best to walk your canine friends in the morning to try and beat the heat. Also, if your pet gets anxious or nervous around people, you may want to visit during the week, as events hosted on the weekends can draw large crowds. 12882 Diagonal Road, LaGrange, 1-800-LCM-PARK,
Best Outdoor Store:
The Backpackers Shop
On a hot summer Saturday afternoon, the most common sound within the faux log cabin is the flip-flop footwear of young, fit and casually dressed employees. Cotton tops, baggy shorts and sandals are standard attire of a workforce that looks to be more at home negotiating rushing rapids in a kayak than working a 9-to-5 shift.
“Ninety-five percent of our staff is involved with the outdoors,” says Chris Potonic, manager of the Backpackers Shop, in Sheffield Village. “They’re into hiking, canoeing, backpacking, climbing, fishing.”
When it comes to outdoor gear, they don’t just sell it. They do it.
That’s critical since, as Potonic admits, “We’re a destination shop. Customers come here because they know that we know our business.”
That business, since 1966, has been the sale of outdoor sporting footwear, clothing and gear. The company started as a canoe livery operated out of the lower level of the Fabbro family home. The Fabbros still own the shop today, but even though the new location dwarfs those first digs it’s still a fraction of the size of competing spaces.
Those “big box” stores aren’t a threat, says Potonic. “They send a ton of people our way. We have a lot of stuff you can’t get anywhere else. We do the same thing — we send customers to our competitors when they’re looking for camping supplies or hunting gear.” 5128 Colorado Ave., Sheffield Village, 440-934-5345, backpackersshop.com
Botamer Florist & More
Let’s say you need fresh wheatgrass for memorably unique table centerpieces. Or a poinsettia bouquet that won’t wilt during the big day. You go to Botamer Florist, where co-owners Karol Davis and Connie Butler create the perfect floral backdrop to some 80 weddings a year, or whatever special moment you choose. 511 Abbe Road North, Suite D, Elyria, 440-323-3108, botamerflorist.com
Best Garden Center:
Pandy’s Premier Garden Center
Pandy’s makes gardening playful. You’ve got the Biggest Tomato Contest in the summer. Springtime’s Battle of the Ponds. Autumn’s Girls’ Night Out — with a “Sex in the City” theme. There was the Candy Cane Festival to usher in winter. This is how the center charms customers to the four-season delights of this award-wining garden destination. 41600 Griswold Road, Elyria 440-324-4314, pandysgardencenter.com
Best Beer Selection (retail):
You must experience the Top 40, but please, not all at once. Those ever-changing featured beers are only an introduction to the extensive mass-market and microbrewery lineup found here. Try the Dead Reckoning Porter, Old Leghumper, Thirsty Dog or HopDevil. Our choice for saluting that difficult someone? Arrogant Bastard Ale. 35980 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-937-7606, heinens.com
Best Book Store:
Tucked into the college town of Oberlin, MindFair sells mostly used books that it buys from students. The book store shares its space with the Ben Franklin general store, giving it a historic feel that you don’t get at chains. “It’s cozy,” says owner Krista Long. “There are lots of places to vanish.” 13 W. College St., Oberlin, 440-774-6463
Come into Vandemark Jewelers and owners Jim Vandemark and Tim Haywood will personally greet you. Both men work in-store every day, and Haywood repairs jewelry on the premises. “People move away sometimes, and they’re still coming [back] to see us,” Vandemark says. 244 E. Broad St., Elyria, 440-322-1700, vandemarkjewelers.com
Best Shopping Area:
Avon Commons is the largest power center in the metro area. A power center is a traditional shopping center with a wealth of big-box retailers. Expansive Avon Commons is, according to Goodman Real Estate Services Group LLC, about 800,000 square feet anchored by a Target, Heinen’s, Home Depot and much more. Shoppers come here for, well, everything. Detroit Road and Center Road, Avon
Best Farmers Market:
Pickering Hill Farm Market
Customers asked for heirloom tomatoes, so the Pickerings grew them. The family’s experiment with half-runner beans — also a request — didn’t pan out, but they tried. And that’s the point. The Pickering family’s been running a customer-pleasing farm market near the encroaching city and turning a profit for five generations. 35669 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-937-5155
Best Antique Store:
Tree House Gallery & Tea Room
Tree House Gallery’s selection ranges from war antiques to sports memorabilia to furniture. A salesperson can help you scope out the perfect item, but if you find yourself waitlisted, try a wrap from the tea room lunch menu — chef Genna Larson won third place in Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre contest this year. 36840 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-1636
Art Gallery of
What’s the attraction? “We’re just so good looking,” teases Jerry Wolocyn, one of several veteran artists using the space as gallery and working art studio. The group hosts art classes while exhibiting floor-to-ceiling pieces ranging from $50 to $2,500. 767 Milan Ave., Amherst, 440-984-4442, amhersthistorical
Best Dance Studio:
Miss Kristin’s Dance Studio
Kristin Perry credits her instructors when it comes to the success of her studio. The founder and director of Miss Kristin’s Dance Studio in Avon Lake says they are committed to implementing new material each year. Perry, a certified member of Dance Educators of America, and her team attend dance conventions every year to continually improve their teaching abilities.
“At our past recital, I had a lot of people say your little kids can do so much more than what we’ve seen at other recitals,” says Perry, who specializes in jazz dance. “We do get to specifics sooner than a lot of other studios do.”
For children that dream of becoming the next Baryshnikov, Perry says ballet is the most important skill set to learn. Miss Kristin’s offers pre-ballet classes for 3-year-olds to teach them basic motor skills, such as skipping and galloping. For 4- to 7-year-olds, Perry suggests the combo class — half ballet and half tap dance — because it introduces kids to dance techniques.
“Everything in dance is based on some form of technique, and all that technique comes from ballet,” she says. “No matter what your age, start at least with a ballet class. We’re very big on proper classical technique.” 32925 Pin Oak Parkway, Avon Lake, 440-933-8400, misskristinsdancestudio.com
Journey Around Music
Journey Around Music’s mission is to create a buzz about music and inspire children to learn to play instruments. They do this through local outreach. That’s why you’ll see Journey Around Music members performing at community events such as the Elyria Schools Backpack Program Fun Days. Or catch a free concert in its parking lot, where students can show what they know and aspiring musicians can join in the fun. 403 Cleveland St., Elyria, 440-322-2210,
Kiddie Kollege is not day care; it’s designed to help kids learn. The student-teacher ratio is low, but the large motor activity room is what really captures attention. With walls painted to look like village shops, high ceilings where airplanes hang from the sky, a tile roadway for bike riding and a climbing apparatus in the center, little imaginations can run wild during indoor recess. 5526 Detroit Road, Sheffield, 440-934-5880, kiddiekollegeohio.com
Ten Point O Gymnastics
Ten Point O is a hit among parents and children alike. The parents love watching their childrens’ entire class from a sizeable viewing area, and the children love the confidence-inspiring ground-level trampoline and loose foam pit. Being able to safely bounce, flip and tumble under the admiring eyes of your favorite grown-ups: priceless. 38818 Taylor Parkway, North Ridgeville, 440-353-0101, ten-point-o.com
EMH Center for Health and Fitness
“Manicures just aren’t for women anymore,” says Jan Biedenbach, sales director at EMH Center for Health and Fitness. “We’re finding more and more men wanting to maintain an impeccable appearance, and a professional manicure is an easy and relaxing way to get that well-groomed look.” The spa at EMH makes getting a professional manicure and pedicure easy. Access to the spa is available through the fitness area’s locker rooms, which Biendenbach points out helps men feel more comfortable about coming into the salon for services.
The day spa is one of the local providers of the new shellac manicure, which goes on like polish, but wears like gel. This technique, available in a variety of colors, lasts two to three weeks for manicures and pedicures and does not chip or peel. There’s no damage to the natural nail, and it removes easily and dries quickly. “The process is quick and creates a mirror-like resilient shine,” adds Biedenbach. 1997 Healthway Drive, Avon, 440-988-6800, emh-healthcare.org
Don Mould’s Plantation
Don Mould’s Plantation started out as a simple holiday tree farm in the 1960s. Its landscape division creates backyard oasis areas. By providing patio installation, landscape design, annuals and perennials planting, as well as large-tree installation, Don Mould’s has established roots as the area’s complete resource for landscaping projects. Rt. 58 and Rt. 113, Amherst, 440-986-7777; 34837 Lorain Road, North Ridgeville, 440-327-3407, mouldsplantation.com
French Creek Cabinet Co. Ltd.
Found in Avon’s historic district, the company’s showroom highlights its capabilities. The staff offers custom cabinet-making services for kitchens and baths, but also can provide design assistance for just about any room in your home. It offers interior decorating services, specialty wall finishing, custom woodworking and space planning for remodeling projects and new-construction homes.
37298 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-8111
EMH Center for Health and Fitness
Now in its 11th year, the day spa at EMH offers a variety of services. Deep tissue or hot-stone massages, custom-blended facials, reflexology and reiki, the Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation, are just some of the treatments that keep clients coming back. Customers who receive at least one service per month earn 10 percent off services. The day spa at EMH is open to the public, with discounts given to EMH Center for Health & Fitness members. 1997 Healthway Drive, Avon, 440-988-6800, emh-healthcare.org
While other companies seem to charge extra for everything, Ridge Cleaners still believes that some of the best things in life are free. That includes its free home pick-up and delivery dry cleaning services. Customers can simply go online and request a pick-up. A customer representative will contact them to discuss specifics and arrange times. Go to ridgecleaners.com to find locations.
Splash-N-Dash Automatic Auto Wash
The twin car wash bays at Splash-N-Dash see a steady flow of vehicles. Providing 7-foot clearance, mid-size sedans and larger trucks can get any of the four services offered. Select from the $10 Ultra Wash or the economical $7 Splash-N-Dash. The touchless wash system won’t damage your car’s surface but removes debris. The dual-side and top air dryer provides a spot-free
finish. 522 Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-366-0600
When it comes to taking care of man’s best friend, pet owners can be picky. Barking Barbers has been in business for more than 20 years because of the top-notch level of service it provides. Typical grooming is always provided, but it’s the groomer’s keen eye for noticing potential problems with a pet’s eyes, ears or paws that devoted pet owners truly appreciate.
36712 Center Ridge Road, North Ridgeville, 440-327-0373
Ryan M. Finnegan, Creekside Tavern
Ryan Finnegan’s penchant for concocting stuff began with a love of high school chemistry and evolved to the search for new ingredients. Don’t miss his Starry Starry Night Martini: peach vodka, mango rum, lemonade and edible sapphire dust topped with 14K gold and silver edible stars. 37040 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-4476
Best Local Male Celebrity:
Al “Bubba” Baker, Bubba’s-Q World Famous Bar-B-Que & Catering
While the 6’8”, 330-pound former Browns defensive end is usually cooking at Bubba’s-Q World Famous Bar-B-Que & Catering, he looks forward to Friday nights when he goes to Lakewood’s Beck Center with his 3-year-old granddaughter. “I dance with her. No one else is allowed to take her there on Fridays. My daily grade is her smile.” 820 Center Road, Avon, 440-937-7859, bubbasqdining.com
Best Female Celebrity:
Connie Dieken, President, onPoint Communication
Being a celebrity can go to one’s head. Not the case here, as one not-so-loyal viewer found out. “Someone sent me a photo of themself taken with Robin Swoboda and asked me to autograph it. What to do? I made a copy of the photo, signed one and sent the other to Robin for her signature.” 32818 Walker Road #250, Avon Lake, 440-930-8500, onpointcomm.com
Best Personal Trainer:
Cheryl Matey, EMH Fitness Center
Place a Dairy Queen cake in front of Cheryl Matey and she’ll probably succumb to the temptation. But the next day she’ll be running with her yellow Lab. “I’m a believer that we should shut off one day a week and move on,” she says. 1997 Healthway Drive, Avon, 440-988-6800, emh.rhs.org
Best Master Stylist:
Melissa “Mick” McLaughlin, A David Anthony Salon & Spa
While most little girls style Barbie’s hair and My Little Pony’s mane for grade-school kicks, Melissa “Mick” McLaughlin sees those days as the beginning of her career. “I braided Barbie’s hair and then went on to curl my babysitter’s hair.” During her junior year in high school while on the majorette squad, she French braided her squad-mates’ hair. “I wanted to make sure everyone looked uniform,” she says.
Mick’s style has come a long way since then. Today, she’s into a more edgy look. “I like spikey hair, something with a shaved bottom and a Mohawking top. And I like doing asymmetrical looks,” she says. Clients love her because she understands them. “My guy clients and I love that when they’re leaving the shop they look like they need a haircut. The women love my Victoria’s Secret styles.”
Today, she’s also participating in Aveda’s in-salon coach program, training others about hair styling techniques. “I come to work, I give it everything I’ve got. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Really. There’s absolutely nothing else that I want to do. It’s truly my passion.” 6401 S. Broadway, Lorain, 440-233-8570, adavidanthonysalon.com
Lorain County Community College Chef Eric Petrus is living his dream, creating menus that cater to everything from students’ lunches to board members’ dinners. He creates ingredient-driven recipes that lend a creative twist to traditional favorites. Formerly boring cafeteria items are transformed into delectable entrees, such as grilled chicken with caramelized fennel and onion.
After spending hours preparing food for others, he looks forward to going home and cooking some more. “You have to balance what you’re doing with having fun,” he says. “My cooking time at home is my quiet time.”
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, while doing a stint at the Fulton Bar and Grill he created what he still considers his best dish to date: Asian braised short ribs with boniato (Cuban sweet) potatoes. “I approach every meal as a creative challenge,” he says. Lorain County Community College Spitzer Center, 1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria 44035, 800-995-5222, lorainccc.edu.