Best Framing Store: University Art


Menlo Velo Bicycles is the Readers' Choice winner for favorite bicycle shop. Owner Rainer Zaechelein strives to provide a personalized level of customer service that can only be offered at a smaller, "old fashioned" shop. Consistent and dependable service has been the key to its success, Mr. Zaechelein says. Menlo Velo's long-term employees mean returning customers see familiar faces. His goal is to get everyone on a bike, whether for a competitive race or a casual weekend ride.
433 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | (650) 327-5137 |


Kepler's Books has a lot to celebrate. Not only has it won this year's Readers' Choice Award for best bookstore, but it is celebrating its third consecutive year of being profitable, all while selling good, old-fashioned books. According to Praveen Madan, Kepler's community engagement officer, the shop is a hub where booklovers can consult their favorite staff members for recommendations for book clubs or young children, meet up, or listen to authors talk about their recent works. The store also offers a book subscription service. People can order books to be delivered monthly, focused on some sort of theme. Go to for more information. Finally, in what has been a several-years-long process, Mr. Madan said, the company will finalize its separation into two branches: Kepler's, the for-profit bookstore, and Peninsula Arts & Letters, a nonprofit affiliated with Kepler's that organizes and promotes educational, cultural and literary events within the community. The bookshop is also home to the weekly podcast recording of "In Deep," an interview show with radio journalist Angie Coiro on Wednesdays at noon.
1010 El Camino Real | (650) 324-4321 |

Best Boutique, Gift and Jewelry Store: Shady Lane


Shady Lane is the winner of Readers' Choice Awards in three categories: favorite boutique, jewelry and gift shop. After 40 years in business in Palo Alto, Shady Lane moved to the Sharon Heights Shopping Center in Menlo Park in March 2015. The shop features creations by local and mostly USA artisans, including art glass, ceramics, jewelry, fine woodworking and textile art. Many of the artisans work in the store. The collection at Shady Lane is beautifully displayed in a light-filled octagonal building next to Starbucks in the shopping center.
325 Sharon Park Drive, Sharon Heights Shopping Center, Menlo Park | (650) 321-1099 |


Menlo Flooring and Design is a family-owned business that has served Menlo Park for more than 20 years. In its spacious showroom, Menlo Flooring offers a wide variety of flooring options, from hardwood to bamboo and carpet. Customers say they like the friendly staff and their recommendations for matching the customer's price and styling objectives. Menlo Flooring serves customers of all kinds, from trade professionals to individual home owners.
905 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | (650) 305-1099 |


University Art, an artist's haven since it opened in 1948, offers a wide selection of supplies for projects and crafts, and a custom framing department. The winner of the Readers' Choice Award for favorite framing store is able to accommodate framing for projects, pictures, and memorabilia of all shapes and sizes. "The framing designers work with customers to create the best design for the piece within the customer's budget," store manager Gloria Acevedo Cooney says. The designers can recreate nearly any vision with their extensive selection of customizable features from framing finishes to mat color and texture selections.
2550 El Camino Real, Redwood City | (650) 328-3500 |


Menlo Park Ace Hardware has won the 2016 Readers' Choice Award for best hardware store. According to Vasile Oros, the store's manager, being a branch of Ace Hardware gives the store access to about 85,000 items they can stock on their shelves. "We want to bring every one (of those items) in if someone needs it," he said. "We try to solve problems. People come to us, and if we can't help, we'll advise them." The hardware store, he said, has plans to expand to another location on Santa Cruz Avenue, where furniture and high-end housewares will be sold. It is expected to open in late August.
700 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 325-2515 |


Flegel's Interior Design & Distinctive Home Furnishings has won its category for the 24 years that Almanac readers have cast their votes in the Readers' Choice poll. Brian Flegel manages the store that was founded in 1954 by his grandfather, Arthur Flegel, and has been owned for many years by his father, Mark Flegel, president of Flegel's. The store has a 22,000-square-foot showroom, where high-end furnishings are on display, and emphasizes custom furniture and interior design services, with nine interior designers working on its staff. Flegel's has placed furnishings in "nearly every home in Atherton," Brian Flegel said, and has done interior design work in California from Healdsburg to Los Angeles and abroad in Hong Kong and Dubai. Timeless style and superb craftsmanship is Flegel's hallmark.
870 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 326-9661 |


The Pet Place, since its opening in 1992, has won the Readers' Choice award for favorite pet store for 24 consecutive years. This unique shop offers the full range of pet products, plus many services, such as advice on nutrition, training and care, and referrals to veterinarians, pet sitters, adoption assistance and foster care resources. You'll find the Pet Place frequently hosting a rescue, adoption or shelter organization event. Owners Marc and Lynn Macy have successfully provided a haven, not just for pets, but for their owners as well.
777 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 325-7387


In 1992, the Menlo Park Farmers' Market began as a brainstorm of five local women who thought Santa Cruz Avenue could use a good farmers market, according to one of the market's founders, Nancy Couperus, a Los Altos resident. Over the years, the market has grown into a family-friendly weekly ritual for many locals, and has helped breathe new life into downtown businesses, Ms. Couperus says. Farmers say that the Menlo Park clientele is loyal. Customers have been known to brave inclement weather to pick up their weekly produce, she said. The market, open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays, is sponsored by the Menlo Park Live Oak Lions Club, which raises about $45,000 a year in stall fees; that money goes to support local nonprofit organizations. Leftover produce from the market is donated to nearby food donation charities.
Chestnut Street between Santa Cruz Avenue and Menlo Avenue, Menlo Park | (650) 688-8316


It probably says something about the Almanac's readership that Fleet Feet, a running store, won the Readers' Choice Award in the category of shoes overall. "We are fortunate to be in a very health-conscious and active part of the world," said Jim Gothers, who owns the store with his spouse, Lisa Taggart. While the store does carry and sell running shoes, it also organizes and hosts running groups for training at all levels. Various running groups, including both a "get off the couch" group for non-runners and a marathon training group, draw people from different walks of life and neighboring towns because they are "inclusive and unintimidating," he said. One big hit is the store's recurring "Pub Run," which starts at 6:30 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month. Attendees can demo a different shoe brand, go for a run, and then meet up after for a social hour at the store. "Our store lets people step out of their own everyday skin," he said. "People get hooked."
879 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 325-9432|


Penzeys Spices says it aims to supply customers with the freshest spices from all over the world, in a storefront that is well-organized and easy to navigate. Customers say just about every spice and extract imaginable is available at Penzeys, along with many distinctive spice blends that Penzeys releases at various times throughout the year. Customers enjoy being able to smell the spices before purchasing, and they like the ample free recipes and coupons available. The friendly staff help both the experienced chef and home cook find the right spice to compliment any dish.
771 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 853-1785