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April 6, 2010

There is nothing little about the FUSSYlittleBALLOT.  After some exhaustive research and cross-referencing of last year’s winners, Yelp, some of the more established local blogs, and even some newer ones, I have come up with a list for your consideration.

What list?
Why, a list of entries for the Times Union Best of the Capital Region 2010, of course.

Admittedly, there are a few entries that may seem a bit odd.  Upon viewing them you may find yourself saying, “We don’t have a Wegman’s or a Trader Joe’s here.  Why on Earth is Daniel B. suggesting I vote for them?”

Well, in the past these two highly desired businesses have received a smattering of write-in votes.  However, wouldn’t it be fantastic if there were some organized campaign to get them to appear within the top three of an annual Times Union poll?

(Are there any community organizers out there?  I know it’s a dirty word these days, but you are among friends.)

You will also notice that the ballot contains answers for almost all the categories, including those that extend far beyond my expertise.  This is where my outside advisors were especially helpful.  But the same logic holds here, for categories like Best Hardware Store, why should Lowe’s be voted our best when we have a fantastic local shop?

For those not prepared to vote for this slate without further conversation, over the next few days, I will be discussing some of my choices.  And hopefully I can convince you to join the movement to bring The Best back to the “Best of”.

Now open this link in another window, and then all you have to do is copy and paste the entries below.  It is as easy as pie.  And if you find you are short of time, the boldfaced entries are the ones that are most important.

Page One
Best grocery (chain): Wegman’s
Best grocery (single location): Asian Supermarket – 1245 Central Ave
Best wine store: Trader Joe’s

Best beer store: Oliver’s Beverage Center/The Brew Crew, 105 Colvin Ave., Albany
Best bakery: Mrs. London’s
Best chocolate shop: The Chocolate Gecko
Best ethnic market: Kim’s Oriental Shop
Best farmers market: Troy Waterfront Farmers Market
Best health food store (single location): Honest Weight Food Co-op

Best drug store/pharmacy: Crestwood Pharmacy
Best men’s fashions: Nordstrom’s
Best women’s fashions: Circle’s
Best teens’ fashions: Plato’s Closet
Best place to buy a wedding dress: Angela’s Bridal – 1811 Western Ave
Best sporting goods: Dick’s
Best hardware: Pfeil Hardware – 63 3rd Street, Troy
Best nursery/garden center: Hewitt’s
Best art supply: Arlene’s Artist Materials
Best furniture store: Old Brick Furniture Co.
Best mattress store: Old Brick Furniture Co.
Best appliance store: Central Restaurant Equipment

Best pet store: Benson’s Pet Center
Best cigar shop: Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe
Best bookstore (single location): Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
Best used bookstore: Dove & Hudson
Best local hotel (single location): 74 State
Best place in the region to gamble: Any of our Chinese buffets
Best bank/credit union: SEFCU
Best jeweler: Frank Adams Jewelers
Best auto dealer (single location): Northway Toyota
Best auto service: Larry’s Foreign Auto
Best hospital: Albany Med
Best veterinary clinic: Parkside Veterinary Hospital
Best plumber: Allen & Taub
Best landscaper: Faddegon’s Nursery
Best car wash: Raindancer
Best hairstylist: Ania Salon
Best barber: Patsy’s
Best spa/salon: Complexions Day Spa
Best dry cleaner: Quality Cleaners
Best shopping mall: Colonie Center
Best two-year college: Schenectady County Community College
Best four-year college: RPI
Best high school teacher (include name and school): Gary Gnirrep, English, 
Guilderland High School

Page Two
Best restaurant to open in the past year: Dale Miller
Best hamburger: New World Bistro Bar’s grass-fed beef burger
Best pizza: Pasquale’s
Best Buffalo wings: Ale House
Best sandwich shop: Andy & Sons Importing Co.
Best steak joint: Bear’s Steakhouse
Best Chinese/Japanese/Korean restaurant: Ala Shanghai
Best Indonesian/Thai/Vietnamese restaurant: Blue Spice
Best Indian/Pakistan restaurant: Karavalli
Best Mexican/Central/South American: Salsa Latina
Best Italian restaurant: Katrinella’s Bistro
Best vegetarian restaurant: The Phoenicians
Best ice cream: Snowman
Best hot dogs: Famous Lunch
Best sports bar: Graney’s Bar & Grill
Best wine bar: Lark Street Wine Bar
Best beer tavern: Mahar’s
Best cocktails: dp bistro
Best coffee joint (chain): Uncommon Grounds
Best coffee joint (single location): Professor Java’s
Best diner: Dewey’s

Page Three
Best regional ski resort: Gore Mountain
Best regional golf course: Saratoga National
Best gym/health club: Rudy A. Ciccotti Center
Best high school coach (include name and school): Ken Strube, Shenendehowa Girls Basketball
Best high school athlete (include name and school):
Best college coach (include name and school): Fran McCaffrey, Siena College men’s basketball
Best college athlete (include name and school):

Page Four
Best rock musician or band: Matt Loiacano (not exactly rock)
Best country musician or band: Back 40
Best classical musician or organization: Albany Symphony
Best concert in the past year: Dan Deacon at EMPAC
Best play or musical in the past year: Wicked
Best year-round theater company: Capital Rep
Best summer-only theater company: Park Playhouse
Best children’s theater: Steamer 10 Theatre
Best local comedian or comedy troupe: Wit&Will Theater at ZuZu’s Wonderful Life
Best art gallery: The Tang
Best museum: The Schenectady Museum
Best movie theater: Jericho Drive-In Theatre

Best local artist: Kevin Marshall
Best arts event in the past year: Troy Night Out

Page Five
Best TV news anchorperson: None
Best TV newscast: None
Best print journalist: Jessica Pasko

Best radio personality: Kristi Gustafson
Best radio station: WAMC
Best local Web site: All Over Albany
Best local blogger:
(If you would be so kind) The FUSSYlittleBLOG’s Daniel B.
Best local tweeter: amymengel

Page Six
Best restaurant for kids – Chipotle

Best playground – The Crossings
Best public pool – Town of Bethlehem
Best place to buy kids’ clothes – Pass It On Children’s Consignment Sale
Best children’s library – William K. Sanford Town Library, Colonie
Best museum for kids – State Museum, Empire State Plaza

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard Nixon permalink
    April 6, 2010 9:52 am

    Best TV news anchorperson: Ed Dague

    Also – why the love for Graney’s? That’s a terrible place to watch a game.

  2. beck permalink
    April 6, 2010 10:47 am

    I agree with the spirit of your ballot, even if I don’t necessarily agree with all the choices. For one, I once met Alan Chartock of WAMC and he was such a self-righteous ass I’d never listen to his radio station. I also don’t like Karavalli, despite what everyone keeps telling me about its deliciousness. And the Colonie Town Library is certainly not the best of our local libraries – not even its children’s room. I realize you’ve culled from multiple sources for this poll, and it’s not just your opinions, but I do object to those.

    Yet I’m still going along with your dastardly scheme, because I, too, am tired of seeing Subway and Five Guys win categories in what’s supposed to be a local poll.

    The only thing I really question is the decision to list Chipotle as best children’s restaurant. What was the reason for this? I certainly agree that Chipotle is very tasty and child-friendly, but was there no local option?

    • Kyle permalink
      April 14, 2010 2:48 pm

      Sorry to differ with you, FiveGuys has great burgers (and great fries too!). Yes there may be better places out there, you’re free to vote for them, I have yet to find them. Agree with your sentiment though. I too am disgusted at seeing Subway and PizzaHut on the list.

      Also, @Daniel B., Chipotle as a children’s restaurant? Don’t they serve beer and margarita’s? Not exactly the place I’d bring kids for a good time. That’s like the dolts I see bringing their kids to Bombers.

  3. Phairhead permalink
    April 6, 2010 11:10 am

    Where’s the love for Van’s? Whomp whomp :<(

  4. Vicki permalink
    April 6, 2010 12:41 pm

    what a fabulous idea – I have hated those lists for years because they don’t reflect quality and taste. But I have submitted my first entry ever and am crossing my fingers!!! Anything for a Wegmans!!!!

  5. Ellen Whitby permalink
    April 6, 2010 3:30 pm

    Best local blogger? Really?!!?

  6. Sarah M. permalink
    April 6, 2010 4:26 pm

    Complexions? Seriously? Dear DB, please stick to what you know. Townsend forever.

    (Also wondering how you picked Dan Deacon as the best concert. Not that I’m disagreeing… but I thought I would’ve seen you if you were there…)

  7. Steve permalink
    April 6, 2010 4:39 pm

    The vote for Trader Joes and the logic that goes with it is counter intuative to voting for Honest Weight. If we get a TJ it will help destroy the Co-Op. Why are people over the moon over TJs and Wegs? See through the mist of self righteousness and marketing and keep our billion dollar local business going (Price Chopper). Dont think for a second that Danny Wegman is going to step up and sponsor the events and benefits that the Golub family does. Not to mention that TJ wont sell wine even if we get one and Wegmans has singlehandedly put two liquor stores out of business in Rochester.

    • Sarah M. permalink
      April 6, 2010 6:49 pm

      I think people are excited about Trader Joe’s and such because Price Chopper usually sucks. I agree that it’s important for local businesses to exist, and I’m happy that PC contributes to their community, but perhaps they should focus first on the quality of their physical stores and the shopping experience (as TJ’s most definitely does). They are, after all, a grocery store.

  8. lnm permalink
    April 6, 2010 5:43 pm

    The Phoenicians does serve vegetarian food but it is not a vegetarian restaurant.

  9. Jess G permalink
    April 6, 2010 8:22 pm

    Goldstock’s gets my vote for best sporting goods store….since we’re all going to dicker about your choices ;)

  10. StanfordSteph permalink
    April 7, 2010 11:06 am

    Wegmans rules. Why am I over the moon for it? It is focused on customers. The employees are friendly and helpful. It’s not impossible to find someone to help you in the store. They have great Wegmans label products.

    How has it put two liquor stores out of business unless you mean Century that is now owned by Wegmans. Personally I think Century is fantastic, has great selection and price.

  11. Jessica R permalink
    April 7, 2010 3:28 pm

    Sorry Kevin Marshall, you know that I love you and love seeing you on stage, but my vote will go to Kevin Craig West ( KM is a great actor, but if I recall, was only in two smaller productions last year (at least compared to “To Kill a Mockingbird” at Cap Rep, plus KCW won “best actor” for the Knickerbocker Film Fest.). (Side note: I loved KM in Arcadia, and I can’t wait to see him in “The Importance of Being Ernest!”).

    I don’t really understand why it would be “fantastic” if TJs and Wegman’s appeared on the top of the ballot. Neither of these exist in our region, so how can I say that they are “The Best of the CAPITOL REGION”? It will just make it obvious that it was a set up. I feel like you put them there so you could see how much influence you have.

    Otherwise, some of my choices will be more Troy-centric, but I don’t mind putting your answers down for the ones I would be on the fence about anyway, and I definitely agree with some of them.

  12. April 7, 2010 7:34 pm

    Aw, thanks so much for the nod for best local tweeter!

    As a Rochester native, I’m all for the Wegmans write-in vote.


  13. nina permalink
    April 9, 2010 11:45 am

    I’m with Beck – in that I agree with the spirit of this enterprise. I completed, as requested, w/ just a few variations (I realize folks don’t want the same people to win over and over, but Spectrum is a local organization – and awesome….) Let’s keep it local – and good.

  14. Erin permalink
    April 11, 2010 10:49 am

    Love the idea! And I just filled it out almost as requested … but Goldstocks beats Dick’s ANY DAY. Just sayin’…

  15. Andrew permalink
    April 11, 2010 9:05 pm

    Unfortunately you will never see a Wegmans in the Capital District. Price Chopper, Wegmans and Grand Union have agreements with each other about going into certain area’s.

    • April 11, 2010 10:34 pm

      I have heard about these rumored agreements. But agreements can change. Especially when the people involved with them pass on. And in this case Lewis Golub, who I suspect would have been a key actor in any such deal, died last October.

      “Never” isn’t as long as you might think.

      We are the music makers,
      And we are the dreamers of the dreams

      – Arthur O’Shaughnessy

  16. Susanr permalink
    April 13, 2010 11:05 am

    Yes I agree with the Fussy Little Ballot- but how do I vote please??

  17. Naomi permalink
    April 14, 2010 5:37 pm

    Amy’s tweets are excellent. I’m also not surprised you nominated yourself for best local blog, either. Hey, you’ve been on Consumerist.

    I actually got something like six votes for best local blog last year, and I did zero campaigning. I still wonder who those people were.


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