The award for best auto repair goes to Portola Valley Garage, a specialist in the repair of European vehicles since 1948. “Thanks to our loyal customers for voting us number 1 five years in a row,” says garage owner Tom Ramies. New for this year is a nationwide 36,000-mile, three-year repair warranty, including free roadside assistance. A water pump fails in Wyoming, repairs are at no cost. “It’s kind of a peace of mind thing,” Mr. Ramies said.
4170 Alpine Road, Portola Valley | 851-7442


The award for best barber went to the Moses Hairstyling in Menlo Park, a repeat from 2013. “Oh my God, we did it again,” says owner and barber Moses Moreno. What keeps customers coming back? “The quality of work, the concentration on what they need,” he says. He tailors haircuts to faces, discussing it first with the customer, but generally going for short on top if the person is thin, and short on the sides if the person is “chubby.” 1110 Crane St., Menlo Park | (650) 322-8822


Bella Schneider’s La Belle Day Spa & Salons has won the 2014 Readers’ Choice award for favorite day spa. From facials to makeup, hairstyling, foot soaks and massages, La Belle offers the full range of spa services. The quality of the staff, attention to detail, and innovative products and services make La Belle stand out, say readers. La Belle offers brides and attendants hair and makeup services, as well as massages to restore calm after all of that last-minute planning. Two locations:
36 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto | 326-8522 | and 95 Town and Country Village, Palo Alto | 327-6964


In business and family-owned since 1903, Peninou French Laundry & Cleaners is at 1145 Crane St. in downtown Menlo Park as well as four other Bay Area locations. The store is known for handling tricky cleaning jobs, from wedding dresses to Oriental carpets and uses “all green” methods of cleaning, using mild solvents. Customer service includes pickup and deliveries or even car-door services to regular customers who call ahead for a pickup.
1142 Crane St., Menlo Park | 322-7562


Readers of all ages enjoy the fun, nurturing environment at Studio Rincon, which won the Readers’ Choice Award in two categories: fitness classes and gym. The studio’s variety of classes offers opportunities for men, women and children to enjoy numerous youth and adult fitness activities, ranging from dance to yoga to kickboxing. Their Youth Dance Program is currently in its fifth year. “Our guests tell us that what sets Studio Rincon apart is the welcome and warmth that greets them every time they come in,” says owner Bill Petrin. This September, the studio is hosting a special yoga workshop with world-recognized instructor Jason Crandell.
3536 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park | 861-0242


J Floral Artwas founded in 1990, moving after 13 years downtown to the current location in North Fair Oaks in 2006. Partners Jeffrey Adair and Craig Kozlowski say they strive to stay engaged and work directly with customer to meet their special needs. They’ve added event production to their arsenal, providing rentals, entertainment — including singers and dancers — as well as coordinating events anywhere it takes them from beginning to end. Their flowers can be ordered through their website, in person, at the workshop or by phone. Examples of J Floral Arts arrangements can be seen on Facebook and YouTube as well. Clients have included Liza Minelli, Tom Ford, the prime minister of Canada and the queen of Thailand.
3489 Edison Way, Menlo Park; 363-0313.

Best Bookstore and Best Green Business: Kepler’s Books


Kepler’s Books once again won two awards from patrons who appreciate both the renovated bookstore as well as its green, sustainable practices. There’s more good stuff on the horizon: “We are looking forward to a lot of things this coming year — finishing up the store renovations; further building out the nonprofit Peninsula Arts & Letters with new programs, more funding, (and a) bigger team; continuing to enhance the in-store inventory of books; and an exciting new literary service we plan to launch in the fall,” said co-manager Praveen Madan. The view from the staff’s perspective sounds equally optimistic: For the first time since the bookstore relaunched in 2012, they received bonuses this year based on the number of hours worked. “I have been working here since Gutenberg invented the printing press and have never had this kind of acknowledgment,” employee Nancy Salmon said, sharing her appreciation.
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | 324-4321

Best Hair Salon: Olive Hill Salon


Olive Hill Salon has been voted best hair salon for the second year in a row. Owner Danielle Casa says she opened the salon in 2011 “with the goal of creating a boutique salon that specializes in color and styling while also being environmentally and socially responsible.” The salon has grown every year since and currently has six stylists, she said. “This year will be our best yet as Olive Hill transitions to becoming an Aveda Salon,” Ms Casa said. “Aveda’s mission statement, connecting beauty, environment and well-being, mirrors our commitment,” she said. “We believe this new partnership will enhance our commitment to education, community, environment and providing excellent service.”
2920 Woodside Road, Woodside | 851-1150 |


Rosewood Sand Hill, carrying on its six-year Readers’ Choice winning streak, celebrated its fifth anniversary in April. Community members as well as guests enjoy socializing at the hotel’s lounge and Michelin-starred Madera restaurant, and for those who want to stay longer, the hotel is currently renovating its extended-stay villas with decks, improved yards and enhanced living areas.
2825 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park | 961-1500


This year’s winner for favorite landscape services doesn’t just plant flowers. They “plant smiles,"says owner Frank Niccoli. Founded in 1987, The Village Gardener provides landscape installation and maintenance using sustainable landscaping practices. Mr. Niccoli, a gardener for 55 years, is the past president of the founding chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association. He teaches at Foothill College, and has even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
205 Old County Road, San Carlos | 592-9440


Surrounded by beautiful blooming orchids, customers of A Touch of Elegance can sit back and relax as friendly specialists cater to their needs. The salon offers manicures, pedicures, waxing, lash extensions, and other personal care services. The owners are a mother-daughter pair, Hanh and Mai Hong, known for remembering customer names, and being professional and welcoming. “We’re 15 years in business and still going strong,” says Hanh Hong. Readers say A Touch of Elegance is the place to go, whether it’s for relaxing during a casual day with friends or preparing for a wedding.
1150 Crane St., Menlo Park | 321-0679


Avi Decorative Painting Inc. has been satisfying customers with the quality of its painting and professionalism of its staff for 25 years, says owner Avi Lenchner. The company offers a range of painting and home improvement services, including in-home consultations. Mr. Lenchner says his business model puts the customer first and aims for repeat customers. The company’s focus is “on delighting customers” with “sincere, ethical, and excellent performances,” says Mr. Lenchner. The company also uses sustainable and environmentally friendly materials.
P.O. Box 51551, Palo Alto, 94303 | 329-0770


Almanac readers voted Walgreens, on Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park, their favorite pharmacy in the 2014 Readers’ Choice poll. The pharmacy impresses readers with its fast customer service, accuracy in filling prescriptions, and overall efficiency. Store Manager Pat Murphy says the store’s popularity and convenient location downtown has enhanced demand for the pharmacy. “The professionalism at the Walgreens pharmacy is unmatched,” he says. “If we didn’t have such kind and hardworking employees in our pharmacy, I don’t think we would be so popular.”
643 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 321-1530

Best Plumber: Guy Plumbing


Guy Plumbing has won the Reader’s Choice award for best plumber. The Guy family has been providing plumbing service and repair to this area for 66 years, and recently added another fourth-generation family member to the team. “We appreciate our customer loyalty and faith they have placed in our service over the years,” says showroom manager Camille Guy. Guy Plumbing’s showroom on El Camino offers items from small repair parts to designer plumbing fixtures. The business carries leading brands in water-saving products — such as toilets, faucets and shower heads — to provide a low-flow product without sacrificing performance, the family says. “It’s reassuring to sell a product that helps conserve water, like a low-flow shower head, and still have confidence that the product will perform satisfactorily for our customers,” Ms. Guy says.
1265 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | 323-8421


AAA’s Forest Avenue location in Palo Alto has long served as a pivotal destination for locals looking to get away. The agency offers maps, discounts and expert advice to make the most of one’s time and budget. Whether planning a family trip to Disneyland, booking a trans-Atlantic cruise, or drafting an itinerary for a fortnight in Europe, AAA is committed to guiding travelers throughout the process.
430 Forest Ave., Palo Alto | 262-3870


Opened only a few months, the newcomer Vibe Yoga has won the Readers’ Choice award in the yoga category. Owner Rebecca Bara says she is proud of the multiple perks and amenities that Vibe Yoga provides: “It’s beautiful, it’s clean, we have top, knowledgeable instructors, showers, lockers, a wide variety of classes, and two yoga rooms, so there’s something for everyone.” Vibe Yoga holds a summer challenge where clients keep track of how much they practice to win prizes.
3750 Florence St., Redwood City | 298-8423