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|Best of the Quad Cities Fall 2010 Winners|
|News/Features - Feature Stories|
|Written by Administrator|
|Wednesday, 13 October 2010 09:04|
Here are the winners in our fall 2010 Best of the Quad Cities balloting, covering four categories: Arts, Culture, and Entertainment; Night Life; Shopping and Services; and People.
(For the winners of our spring competition – covering Food and Dining; Civics and Government; Media; and Recreation – click here. Our Best of the Quad Cities archive – with 10 years of winners – is here.)
In this round of voting, we had 581 valid ballots, and we required participants to provide reasonable answers in at least 20 of the 63 categories. In all, 17,829 votes were cast on valid ballots.
Arts, Culture, and Entertainment
Local Cover Band
Venue for Live Music
Venue for Karaoke
Venue/Organization for Live Theatre
Place to Dance
Educational Venue for Kids
Place (Besides Home) to Watch a Movie
Rave Motion Pictures Davenport 53
Like most of you, I go to the movies a few times a year. (Okay, I actually go a hundred and a few, but who’s counting?) So, like the Best of the Quad Cities voters who named Rave Motion Pictures Davenport 53 – formerly Showcase 53 Cinemas – the Quad Cities’ best place to watch a movie, I’m plenty aware of its many pleasures: 18 screens, with two of the venue’s auditoriums seating roughly 475 patrons each; a large, amply stocked concessions area in the main lobby and two additional snack stations at opposing ends of the cineplex; an entertainment room featuring both video and non-electronic arcade games (“The cla-a-aw!!!”). But with each auditorium now boasting digital projection, the November conversion of one of its screens to an IMAX screen, and the booking of numerous art-house releases (such as the recent Cyrus, Restrepo, and the director’s cut of The Exorcist) and special-event programming (the Metropolitan Opera series, October 23’s UFC match, November 8’s Bon Jovi concert), Rave 53 is planning to stay number-one for many years to come. “I know I’m the company spokesperson,” says Rave Motion Pictures’ Texas-based vice president of marketing, Jeremy Devine, “but I’m so sold on digital. If somebody walks into a movie three weeks after it opens, there’s no degeneration, there’s no dirt, there are no scratches ... . Digital has totally become the prime form for all the new 3D, and all these live events.” Devine is equally enthusiastic about the Davenport locale’s forthcoming IMAX addition (“It’s a huge, huge deal, and really exciting”), yet while he’s also proud of the niche programming enabled by the venue’s 18 screens (“We’ve got very hands-on film buyers who love art films”), blockbuster-minded audiences have no reason to worry. “It’s great when we can play Cyrus for a few weeks,” he says, “and we’ll do that sort of thing whenever we can. But I’m not being heroic. We’re not going to play that at the expense of TRON.” For more information – including links to Rave Motion Pictures’ Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Davenport schedule – visit RaveMotionPictures.com. – Mike Schulz
Library for Programs and Events
Venue for Gaming
Place for Drinks
Cleanest Women’s Restroom in a Bar
Place to Meet People That Isn’t a Bar
Mary’s on 2nd
How’s this for an anniversary present? After years of runner-up status in the Best of the Quad Cities poll, Davenport’s Mary’s on 2nd was finally voted the Quad Cities’ best gay bar, mere days after celebrating its 10th anniversary. (“They did?” said bar patron Brian, with a smile, when informed of the results. “That’s great!”) Like gold for a 50th anniversary or silver for a 25th, the traditional gifts for this occasion are aluminum or tin. But its more modern equivalents are jewelry or diamonds, and that seems more fitting for this charming, intimate venue in the heart of Davenport’s Rainbow District, where there’s never a cover charge and the drink specials are plentiful ... especially if you agree that a Happy Hour should really last longer than 60 minutes. Located at 832 West Second Street, Mary’s on 2nd hosts frequent fundraisers – including weekly dinners benefiting Quad Citians Affirming Diversity – and features a sizable, comfortable outdoor patio area, complete with fire pit and, as guest Kevin told me, “a tent that goes up in the wintertime, for people that smoke.” Kevin is also the artist behind the two lovely stained-glass windows that brighten the venue’s interior (“In the spring and summer,” he says, “the light shines in through one, and in the fall and winter, it’ll shine through the other”), and a beautiful, intimidatingly sized aquarium greets you as you walk in the door. Yet on the walls above the bar, you’ll notice signs announcing the specials for every day of the week, and while Sundays look like a particularly fine, inexpensive time to visit ($3 Long Island Iced Teas and Bloody Marys, $1.50 domestic drafts, $2 import drafts), it’s impossible not to notice that Happy Hour drink specials last from 2 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 2 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. And “on Monday,” says Brian, “I think it’s Happy Hour all day.” Given its décor, perks, and friendliness, I’m guessing any hour at Mary’s is Happy Hour. More information is available by visiting Mary’s on 2nd’s Facebook page or calling (563)884-8014. – Mike Schulz
Classy but Inexpensive Place for a Date
Use for the Freight House
Shopping and Services
Locally Owned Store with Things You Can’t Find at Chains
Place to Buy Local Art
Fred & Ethel’s
While enjoying a tour with Jennifer Horvath, owner of the Rock Island-based Fred & Ethel’s, it quickly becomes clear why the shop was named best antiques store in our Best of the Quad Cities poll. Walking through the venue’s maze of vintage apparel, housewares, jewelry, holiday items, and more, there truly does seem to be something eye-catching and unique for everyone who enters the ... . Holy crap, is that a View-Master?!? “I know, right?” says Horvath, as she removes from a shelf the much-adored, stereoscopic toy of our (and many others’) youths and peers into it. “Look at the 3D,” she says, handing the View-Master to me. “Barbie and Ken surfing! I mean it’s so ... awesome.” That it is. And so is Fred & Ethel’s, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary next April, and which might be impossible to navigate through without grinning from ear to ear. In generally topnotch condition and more-than-reasonably priced, the items in Horvath’s inventory form a rather astounding collection of retro antiques: wardrobe, accessories, salt and pepper shakers, shot glasses, wind-up toys, porcelain figurines, and other collectibles from the 1940s through the ’70s. Yet while Horvath’s stock has nostalgia and kitsch value to spare, everything for sale is also wholly functional, even her supply of dated, you’d-think-obsolete black-and-white-film cameras. (“People are actually getting film and using the cameras,” says Horvath, “because ‘old’ pictures are like playing a record versus a CD – there’s so much depth and texture.”) The wife of RIBCO’s annual Best Bartender victor, Janos Horvath, Jennifer appears delighted with the store’s success and with having so many loyal customers, and adds that while the shop’s clothing always continually sells (“I sold three three-piece suits this week”), yes, Fred & Ethel’s does get particularly busy in October. “It’s not an insult at all,” she says after I apologize for asking if Halloween’s approach is good for business. “You know, I love my clothes, and I don’t like to think of them as costumes, but sure, they can pertain to that.” Fred & Ethel’s is located at 1326 30th Street, and information is available by calling (309)786-3511 and visiting FredAndEthels.com. – Mike Schulz
Store to Find Bargains
Consumer-Friendly Bank or Credit Union
IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union
Laura Ernzen, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union’s vice president of marketing, said that “accommodation factors” are the difference between her company and its competitors. She explained that people shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to manage their money. Savings membership at her institution requires only a $5 deposit. IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union offers three types of checking accounts, and the “free checking” option has no minimum balance or other monthly requirements. (“Checking plus” earns interest and has no minimum-balance requirement.) But convenience is also important, and almost all of the credit union’s 13 Quad Cities-area locations are open on Saturdays and until 6 p.m. some days. (Two have Sunday hours.) Through its Member Advantage program this fall, IHMVCU members will receive free admission to the Quad City Botanical Center, and a free ticket to the Putnam Museum & IMAX Theatre’s presentation of the new Harry Potter movie. Ernzen said that IHMVCU is “a very good value to our members.” Voters in our Best of the Quad Cities poll agreed. For more information about IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, visit IHMVCU.org. – Jeff Ignatius
Serenity Salon & Day Spa
Is any Quad Cities locale more aptly named than the Moline business that calls itself Serenity? Not according to Best of the Quad Cities voters, who cited the Serenity Salon & Day Spa (at 3915 16th Street) as the area’s best day spa, and who no doubt understand that serenity is key to its appeal; with its soft lighting, homey furnishings, and overall air of tranquility, walking through the venue is like submerging yourself in a warm bath. That sense of comfort, as the poll’s results make evident, also extends to the Serenity staff, with front-desk coordinator (and licensed cosmetologist) Casey Hammond named the area’s best receptionist/customer-service representative. “I’ve been here seven years as of yesterday,” she says, with a laugh, during our October 4 chat, “and it’s worked out really well.” Hammond’s strengths as a knowledgeable, terrifically friendly customer-service representative are made apparent during my subsequent tour of the seven-plus-year-old health and beauty center. Hammond walks me through the massage rooms, all lit by small lamps and candles, and designed for both single- and double-occupancy. (“So two people – mother and daughter, husband and wife, whatever the case may be – can come in and get massages side-by-side.”) We visit the aesthetics area, where staffers perform facials and body waxing, and the area that Hammond calls “the more medical side of things,” in which guests receive chemical peels and the application of permanent makeup. There are two manicure stations, a hairstyling floor, several gorgeously furnished waiting areas ... and if you’re wondering whether, with all of Serenity’s relaxation options, you can arrive in the morning and leave in the evening, you sure can. (“People stay all day,” says Hammond. “We’ll go to Miss Mamie’s and get lunch for them and bring it back.”) A wonderful place to visit, Hammond says it’s an equally wonderful place to work. “I like the satisfaction of the job,” she says, “just being in control of the appointments, doing the bookkeeping ... . But mostly it’s the satisfying of the guests. I guess that’s the ultimate reason we’re here, is to make sure that they’re happy, and getting the full experience.” For more information, call (309)797-2777 and visit SerenityQC.com. – Mike Schulz
Place to Find Unusual Gifts for Children
Grocery Store (specific location)
Retail Selection of Wine and Beer (specific location)
Hy-Vee (Rock Island)
“Each store is kind of a representation of its manager,” said Thad Miller, the wine and spirits manager at Hy-Vee’s Rock Island location (at 2930 18th Avenue). So because Best of the Quad Cities voters chose the Rock Island Hy-Vee as the store with the best retail selection of wine and beer, Miller should take that honor personally. Miller said he came to the store when the new one opened two and a half years ago, and those of us who shop there can attest that he has done an excellent job of building his department. He estimated that he now carries more than 200 beers and 800 wines and said he believes that “I have the best beer selection” among the local Hy-Vee stores. When I visited to chat with him, Miller was showing a customer the half-dozen double IPAs that he carries. Earlier this year, he more than doubled the store’s selection of “bombers” – single bottles of brews that are more unusual and obscure, often with higher alcohol contents – and in the next 12 months the Rock Island Hy-Vee will extend its north-south cold-beer display case an additional seven feet. The store has three certified wine specialists (including Miller), and he said he tries to offer monthly tasting events in the store’s Club Room. (The holiday-show tasting of beer, wine, and liquor is scheduled for November 5 from 6 to 8 p.m., with a per-person cost of $15.) But Miller is also modest, saying he picks the brain of other liquor-department managers and relies on customers for recommendations and requests. – Jeff Ignatius
Joshua Ford Photogaphy
A couple of weeks ago, when Plan A for the Reader Best of the Quad Cities cover was all the rage, it was pretty hard to imagine we’d come up with anything better. But sometimes Plan B works out so well that you have to go with it. That’s how we ended up having this issue’s cover photo of best bartender Jon Horvath shot by Joshua Ford, the photographer you voted Best of the Quad Cities.
The cover shot is just a little taste of what Josh Ford call his “modern visual vocabulary.”
“I was an English major at [the University of] Illinois,” he said, “and when I took a class in art photography, that was it. I knew what I wanted to do.” While art photography remained his passion, Josh started shooting family events and friends’ weddings and birthdays – getting his first taste of getting paid for something he loves. He also worked for a national portrait-studio company and still does training and consulting for them in addition to running his studio. That studio, Joshua Ford Photography, has recently grown with the move in January to a new 1,600-square-foot studio at 736 Federal Street in the Harborview Building, just off of River Drive in Davenport.
“The studio I shared with O’Tool Design Custom Tattoo in downtown Davenport was great and I loved the creative energy and collaboration I had with them, but it was a shared space, so I ran into limitations as well,” Ford said. The move seems to have started paying off almost immediately, keeping Josh and his fiancée, assistant (and dare I say muse?) Aimee Hindley (voted best waiter/waitress in this year’s Best of) very busy with sessions in and out of the studio.
Josh shoots weddings and senior portraits, as well as families and kids. He has a particular passion for shooting photos of bands, and does commercial work, like that recent shoot for Thrasher skateboard magazine. And when there’s time amid all that, he still loves art photography.
Having Josh shoot the cover might not have been our original plan for this issue, but it ended up being the best one. Check out his Web site JoshuaFordPhotography.com to see more of his work. – Shawn Eldridge
Place for a Wedding Reception
While talking with Jon Horvath, the perennial best bartender in our Best of the Quad Cities poll, Blue Cat Brew Pub brewmaster Dan Cleaveland walked into RIBCO. “We doin’ Don de Dieu?” Horvath asked him, barely waiting for the reply before grabbing one from the cooler and pouring it. Horvath had previously explained that being a good bartender was a matter of paying attention, and this little anecdote shows how well he does the job. It should be said that Cleaveland is probably Horvath’s longest-tenured customer, and Horvath has worked at RIBCO for 19 of the past 23 years. (“There aren’t many lifers in the Quad Cities” bar scene, he said.) But you only need to see Horvath at work a few times to realize that he’s great at making customers feel special, whether they’re regulars or not. “I love being around people ... taking care of people,” Horvath said. If you’re just beginning to explore beer beyond the Anheuser-Busch or Coors families, he’ll ask questions until settling on something that suits your tastes and adventurousness. (You’ll know that you’re timid if he gives you a Firebrick or Red Stripe, incidentally. Of the latter, Horvath said: “It’s not going to hurt anybody.”) The bartender said he was a customer in the early days of the club at 1815 Second Avenue in Rock Island, when it was owned by the Carmody clan. He started working there in 1987, washing dishes at lunch and then becoming RIBCO’s first (and perhaps only) male waiter before ascending to bartender. (He had tended bar in the Bloomington-Normal area while in college at Illinois State University. He started as a door guy. “I was terrible at it,” he said. “I was too nice to everybody.”) Horvath moved to California in1989 but returned to the Quad Cities three years later to manage the bar at the new Blue Cat Brew Pub. A year later, he was back behind the bar at RIBCO. “I really didn’t care to be a manager,” he said. RIBCO caters to many different crowds, with live music driving much of the traffic. But many people visit during slower times for the great selection of more than 100 beers (and the company of staff such as Horvath), and Wednesdays feature karaoke – named the best in the Quad Cities by our readers. Horvath said the karaoke is elevated by the participation of Circa ’21 employees and the Augustana crowd. “It’s a step up in performance level,” he said. – Jeff Ignatius
Waiter or Waitress
Aimee Hindley, TGI Friday’s in Moline
It’d be inconceivable, of course, to get testimonies from everyone who voted Aimee Hindley, of Moline’s TGI Friday’s, the area’s best waiter or waitress in our Reader poll. But it only takes about 30 seconds of conversation to understand her popularity. “I really have fun waiting tables,” says the ebullient, charming Hindley (whose fiancé, Joshua Ford, found his business named Best Photography Studio). “I love to interact with the guests, everyone from the babies to the little tiny old ladies – I love them all. I know that sounds silly, but I really do.” Giving major props to her co-workers (“They’re like family. ... I just can’t imagine not having these people in my life”), Hindley says one of the most rewarding aspects of her job lies in “how you can really make somebody’s day so much better. People don’t realize how important that is as a server. It’s not about being there every second. It’s not about being overbearing and being in their faces. It’s about making small exchanges of fun, you know what I’m saying?” And she adds that, as one of the biggest joys of her seven-year TGI Friday’s tenure, “I’ve watched a lot of kids grow up. I’ve seen them start as newborns, up until they’re, like, learning how to multiply, and it’s just a really, really big deal to me.” Yet even for a server as experienced and beloved as Hindley, she admits there will be the occasional (very occasional) hiccup. “I think I’ve only had two complaints in the seven years I’ve been here, and they’ve been silly,” she says with a laugh. “One was because the hostess and I were having too much gosh-darn fun – I am not kidding about that – and the other was when I thought this gentleman wanted his basket of breadsticks with his meal. He wanted it before, and he felt the need to call corporate. But those were the only two. Too much fun and breadsticks. I think that’s pretty good.” As a former waiter myself, I think that’s amazing. Moline’s TGI Friday’s is located at 1425 River Drive, and information is available by calling (309)764-6400. – Mike Schulz
Local Visual Artist
If you’re a frequent area theatre-goer – and, as I’ll continue to scold, shame on you if you’re not – you have almost no choice but to be familiar with the stage work of the Reader poll’s Best Local Actor and Actress, Tristan Tapscott and Kimberly Furness. After all, between the two of them, they’ve appeared in, I dunno, about a million local productions over the past six years alone. That’s an exaggeration, sure, but there’s no exaggerating the talent, or prolificity, of these two supremely gifted performers/directors/producers. In 2010 alone, Tapscott has appeared in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Whodunit: The Musical, Go, Dog. Go!, and the current A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline for the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, and Rent and the current The Rocky Horror Show for the Harrison Hilltop Theatre (of which he’s artistic director and a co-founder). Furness performed in Circa ’21’s Squabbles and, for the Curtainbox Theatre Company (of which she’s artistic director and a co-founder), January’s Fool for Love, and will soon portray the title character in the Curtainbox’s November drama, Hedda Gabler. (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Curtainbox company member myself, will be playing Furness’ husband in Hedda Gabler, ... and have seen more than 20 Harrison Hilltop shows in the theatre’s 29-month history.) Recently, the pair joined me in the Circa ’21 salon and shared some thoughts on the past year, favorite co-stars, and dream projects:
On favorite stage memories in 2010
Furness: It was really fun to be back on the Circa stage, because I haven’t been for a while, and any time I get to work with Mike Kennedy and Autumn O’Ryan and Adam Lewis is always a delight.
Tapscott: Rent was definitely a highlight, but also doing [the debuting] Whodunit here – doing something incredibly new that no one’s ever touched.
On favorite Quad Cities experiences over the years
Furness: Honestly, one of my favorite things that I’ve gotten to do was [Circa ’21’s 2005] The King & I. It was the first thing I did when I moved back to the area. Fool for Love was a fun thing to do, too, because that’s a play I have loved forever. And producing [2009’s] Glengarry Glen Ross. For sure.
Tapscott: I’ll tag onto that and say that was one of my favorite acting experiences in the Quad Cities, Glengarry. To be on stage at the same time with Pat Flaherty and Lou Hare, and Eddie Staver, and Dan Sheridan ... . It was like “Wha-a-at?!?”
On dream roles
Furness: I’m excited that I’m getting to play one of my dream roles in Hedda Gabler. Being a producer – and Tristan will probably agree – is kind of nice because if you want to play those roles, you can. So Hedda, and crazily enough, Evita. I’m probably getting too old to play that now, but it’s a role I’ve never gotten to play, and I love that musical.
Tapscott: I’m really looking forward to playing Dennis here in All Shook Up in January. But the cool thing is: I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of the roles that I’ve really wanted to play. I need to make a new list, almost. Jamie in The Last Five Years is still on the top there. And, of course, I can’t play [the African-American character] Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, but I wish I could.
Furness: I want to do that one, too. – Mike Schulz
Local Business Owner
Local Tattoo Artist
Dan Bonowski, Jaded Gypsy Tattoo
People often wonder what it takes to win in our Best of the Quad Cities poll. If you want the secret, ask Dan Bonowski. He was voted best tattoo artist and best local business owner, and his Jaded Gypsy Tattoo shop has been open only since June. Located at 3806 11th Street in Rock Island (in the Watchtower Plaza) and offering custom tattoos and piercing, Jaded Gypsy is a one-man show for the time being. The store features Bonowski’s original artwork along with roughly a dozen tattooing awards. Bonowski has been tattooing for four years and came to the Quad Cities from the Sioux City area. He has a degree in history from Northern Illinois University, and he wanted to a be a museum curator but couldn’t afford to pursue the Ph.D. necessary to break into the field. He said he also considered a fine-art career, but that’s a similarly difficult area in which to gain a foothold. So he began tattooing, an artistic endeavor in which “your canvas pays you,” Bonowski said. (His rates are generally $80 to $100 an hour.) He calls himself a “neo-traditionalist” and likes applying modern techniques to traditional subject matter – pinups and sailor tattoos, for instance. But he stressed that his is a custom shop and will work with clients to create unique tattoos. He doesn’t deny asking his customers to vote for him, but he said he’s a believer that his work and its owners are his best promoters. “Word of mouth is our number-one way” of generating business, he said. He also said that customer service is 90 percent of his job: If he treats all customers like they’re spending $1,000, he said, eventually they will. For more information on Jaded Gypsy, visit JadedGypsyTattoo.com. – Jeff Ignatius
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