Adam Ewing photo
Best Auto-Service Shop
5606 W. Broad St., 288-3950; 6849 Forest Hill Ave., 330-8744; other locations
A family-owned business since 1978, Allen Tire has "seen a couple of generations come through," says president Gary Allen. "You don't make people happy all the time, but on the whole, we've got a very strong customer base." One bonus, especially if you find yourself near one of its six garages when your engine overheats, is that Allen Tire mechanics build time into each day to deal with unexpected mishaps.
2. Wallace Automotive
Best Computer Repair
Best Buy/Geek Squad
Visit geeksquad.com for locations
The Geek Squad has been a voter favorite for a while, and we think it's because you can bring the computer to a Best Buy store, or call a Geek, and he'll come running over in his cute car. When it comes to computer emergencies, we like options — now, if they could just fix that hole you kicked in the monitor, we'll be all good.
3. (Tie) ALB Tech; Apple Store
Best Car Wash
Visit carpool-llc.com for locations
It feels great to have a shiny, clean, freshly vacuumed car — the next best thing to a new ride. Richmond-based Car Pool has done the job for decades now, but two pieces of generosity make it stand out — its support of the Richmond SPCA and its rain-check policy, which allows a customer to get his or her car washed for free if rain falls the same or next day after it's been washed.
2. Dave's Auto Spa
Betty Baugh's Animal Clinic
5322 Patterson Ave., 288-7387
The clinic offers all of the usuals, such as neutering and spaying, regular checkups, and shots — but that's just the beginning. An in-house lab delivers test results faster, and vets offer botanical medicine and acupuncture as well as Western methods.
2. Nan Jack/Church Hill Animal Hospital
3. Cary Street Veterinary Hospital
Best Doggy Day Care
3800 Mountain Road, 672-2200; 900 Southlake Blvd., 794-5400
These luxury hotels for dogs and cats are well known for their finely appointed lodging (think chandeliers), but the dog day camps are the meat and potatoes of Holiday Barn's business. Your pup will receive many opportunities for play and rest, including occasional special events such as dress-up Halloween and New Year's parties.
2. Paws Pet Resort
3. (Tie) All Dog Adventures; Petite Pet Inn & Spa
Best Florist That Goes Beyond Baby's Breath and Chrysanthemums
Visit stranges.com for locations
Celebrating its 75th year in business, Strange's does floral bouquets, trees and shrubs, vegetables — nearly anything you care to plant or display outside or inside. What we love is how Strange's has kept up with the times, offering text-message notification when a bouquet has been delivered to your sweetheart, tweeting gardening advice and even providing a ring tone with its famous commercial jingle.
2. Vogue Flowers & Gifts
3. Coleman Brothers
Best Green Dry Cleaner
Visit puritancleaners.com for locations
Back in the 1970s and '80s, Puritan began celebrating Earth Day and got "a slow start" at becoming more environmentally friendly, says president Gary Glover. Today, however, the company uses green chemicals, recycles 60,000 hangers each month and uses energy-saving equipment such as heat and water exchangers. Individual stores supply hanger caddies to customers who want to bring in their hangers for recycling.
2. Organic Cleaners
3. (Tie) Bill's Cleaners; Joy's; HandCraft
Best Shirt Laundering
Visit puritancleaners.com for locations
Why do women's button-down blouses often cost more to clean than men's shirts? After all, women's shirts are usually smaller! Puritan president Gary Glover explains: Many cleaners have ironing equipment designed to fit for men's shirts, so most women's shirts get done by hand. But Puritan is equipped with large and small ironing tools, so the genders are equal, as long as the shirt material's the same. Ladies with silk blouses, you're still gonna pay a bit more.
3. Bill's Cleaners
Mosaic Café & Catering
6229 River Road, Suite A, 288-7482
Most successful businesses don't re-create the wheel with each job, but Mosaic does — and that's the reason for its success, says catering director Ryan Traylor. "Each menu is unique," he says, and he's telling the truth. Mosaic does not have a standard catering menu; Traylor meets with prospective clients and asks what they want and checks on dietary restrictions. The result is a different menu for each event.
2. Homemades by Suzanne
3. A Sharper Palate
Best Farm Cooperative Delivery Service
Farm to Family
2817 Mechanicsville Turnpike, (540) 872-6528
A reconfigured school bus that serves as "a farmers market on wheels" has become a familiar sight in Richmond's neighborhoods, but owners Mark and Suzi Lilly took Farm to Family to another level this summer with a bricks-and-mortar store in the city's East End. Mark hopes to promote the same sense of community at the store, with food-related movie nights, canning lessons taught by Suzi and kids' field trips to the market.
2. Dominion Harvest
3. Fall Line Farms
Best Special-Event Venue
(Tie) The Jefferson Hotel , 101 W. Franklin St., 788-8000 ; Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden , 1800 Lakeside Ave., 262-9887
The Jefferson and Lewis Ginter are among Richmond's most reliably elegant places to have a wedding reception, but they also have played host to some more unexpected events. Beth Monroe of Lewis Ginter says companies on team-building outings have staged scavenger hunts in the gardens, while elephants attended one of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's inaugural parties at the Jefferson.
3. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Best Bike Shop/Bike Repair
7439 W. Broad St., 672-3441; 3116 W. Cary St., 353-4888; 11020 Midlothian Turnpike, 794-6754
Agee's is on its fourth generation of owners — it is 100 years old, after all — but it still manages to keep up with the times, says Bill Agee. In recent years, bike sales have spiked among adults, both casual riders and competitors. The store sells Trek cycles, the brand partially owned by Lance Armstrong. "A bicycle is no longer a toy," Agee notes.
2. Carytown Bicycle Co.
3. Bunnyhop Bike Shop