The FAB 50 2008
1. Local Fund-raiser: Dining Out for Life
Tim Marburger, Director of Fund-raising and Special Events at Minneapolis-based The Aliveness Project, is unambiguous when he says, “Many, if not most, of the LGBT groups have helped us at The Aliveness Project with Dining Out for Life.” The event is a national arrangement where certain local restaurants agree to tithe their profits on a certain day in order to benefit a certain local AIDS-related charity. Marburger enthuses, “Dining Out for Life is our biggest fund-raiser. We truly appreciate the support of our community, and are very honored by being chosen for this award,” adding, “Come visit, and see what we do!”
2. Local Politician: Gary Schiff
In recent years, the term “activist judge” has garnered a negative connotation within political circles, but the term “activist council member” is worn with pride by local leader Gary Schiff. He first was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2001, representing the Ninth Ward. Schiff says, “As an openly gay member of the Minneapolis City Council, I represent a district that welcomes people from all over the world. For the last seven years, I’ve chaired the city’s Zoning and Planning Committee, spearheading transit, affordable housing, and neighborhood revitalization.” What does Schiff do in his spare time? Work as an activist, of course, benefiting AIDS and breast cancer charities.
3. Place to Work: Ameriprise Financial
In addition to its 2008 Lavender PRIDE Award in June, Ameriprise Financial takes home this year’s Fab Place To Work. For almost 20 years, the company has maintained a GLBT employee network, PRIDE, which has partnered with Ameriprise to put on the Safe Place Program. The employee group has helped the company become the first financial services firm to offer a dual client analysis for domestic partners and single people in relationships. PRIDE Cochair Kim Rowe says, “We know diversity not only enriches the employee experience, but also helps us meet the changing needs of our clients and our community. Thank you, readers of Lavender Magazine, for recognizing our company as this year’s Fab Place to Work.
4. Business Owners: Tom Degree & Dean Schlaak
Whether it’s pumpkin spice latte or French toast as legendary as its iconic gay namesake, Oscar Wilde, Wilde Roast Café, which opened in 2004, is as delicious a destination as you’ll find in Minneapolis and beyond. Under the aegis of owners Tom DeGree and Dean Schlaak, Wilde Roast has supported The Aliveness Project, Clean Water Action, and Outwoods, among other organizations. Schlaak says core values “are to create a place where everyone is welcome, to serve quality food and beverage at a reasonable price, and to give back to the GLBT community.”
5. Local Social Organization: North Country Bears
North Country Bears (NCB) is a local nonprofit organization that hosts events for the bear community and those interested in being a part of it. The organization, which consists of men of all ages, strives to provide a suitable meeting place for bears to mingle. No membership fee is required, but admission is charged for certain activities. NCB President Kevin Beam says, “We plan events, and like to have fun.” Find a calendar and much more information at <www.ncbears.com>.
6. Gayborhood: Northeast Minneapolis
The street signs tell the story: If your address ends in “NE,” you’re a Nordeaster. In so many ways, the former St. Anthony part of Minneapolis is precisely the same…after a fashion. It’s a place that always has attracted American newcomers: Somalis, Latinos, and members of our GLBT tribe today are welcomed into a neighborhood where the great-grandparents of present-day residents settled after making a similar journey from Eastern Europe a century or more ago. Most of the original structures are all still there, but these days, instead of housing industries, they put roofs over the heads of artists, merchants, and restaurateurs. The street signs tell the story of Nordeast…just like the people do.
7. Place to people-watch: Mall of America
The Mall of America just may be the perfect spot to grab a bench, and take a gander at the millions of people who more than likely will pass by your spot on any given day. While MOA may not offer as many shirtless wonders to gaze upon as a place like Lake Calhoun, what it lacks for in skin, it more than makes up for in the sheer number of people to watch. As the nation’s largest shopping and entertainment complex, the mall attracts a wide variety of consumers from all backgrounds and all walks of life—truly something for everyone’s tastes.
8. Museum: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) is a daily reminder of the visibility and significance of art in the progressive Twin Cities. The original building itself, nearly a century old, represents the hard workers of Minneapolis who strove to develop an environment where locals could come to appreciate art. Open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, this free museum is full of various collections, including nearly 900 paintings, 800 classic photographs, and 3,000 pieces of native art. It constantly features new exhibits showcasing painting, photography, artifacts, architecture, and much more. This institution has something for everyone.
9. Theater: Guthrie Theater
The Guthrie is America’s flagship regional theater. Its new facility on the Mississippi in Downtown Minneapolis has become a symbol of cultural diversity and artistic brilliance. Three different types of performance spaces mean that many plays with traditional and countercultural appeal can coexist. Queer-themed plays, as well as classics like The Merchant of Venice and A View From the Bridge with queer undercurrents, have had splendid—and financially successful—productions. Guthrie resident artists work with smaller local troupes to mirror the era of change that good theater always reflects. Watch for upcoming plays by gay icons Tony Kushner, Edward Albee, and Lorraine Hansberry.
10. Local Radio Personality: Dave Ryan
KDWB 101.3 FM’s playfully outlandish Dave Ryan is morning sunshine. He says laughingly, “I’m always surprised to find that anybody finds our show entertaining. There’s a lot of negativity—a lot of people just trying to be cool on the radio. We’re a handful of very human, very real, mostly nerdy people. We just have a good time, and I think that shows. The show’s about what’s going on that people want to talk about. I’m extremely flattered that your readers feel we have a relevance in their lives. We don’t take that lightly—but I’ve got to question their taste in picking us!”
11. Local TV Personality: Sven Sundgaard
KARE 11’s popular meteorologist, having weathered the recent layoff and cutback climate in local television, says, “I’m incredibly honored once again. Three consecutive years is amazing and humbling. I look forward to yet another year of working with some of my favorite charities, such as The Aliveness Project again. In these hard times, seeing all the great things being done by these organizations really puts any of us back in a cheerful mood.” Sundgaard has been the poster boy and Lavender cover celebrity the past two years for The Aliveness Project’s Dining Out for Life fund-raiser.
12. GLBT Celebrity: Ellen DeGeneres
The increased social acceptance of queer people over the past 15 years owes much to the phenomenal rise of open lesbian comic actor Ellen DeGeneres. Her confidence, smart wit, and sharp timing, as well as her not fitting outdated stereotypes, have made for a positive image of queer people that has unhinged prejudice both consciously and unconsciously. The 11-time Emmy-winner’s various classic TV series, her hosting the 79th Annual Academy Awards, her acclaimed vocal turn in the animated smash Finding Nemo, and her marriage this year to Portia de Rossi make DeGeneres an icon for the ages.
Local Entertainer: Ellis
Beloved folksinger-songwriter Ellis brings a social consciousness, along with an understanding sexuality and gender, to the content of her tunes, her vocals, and her guitar. The ethereal sense she emanates is enhanced by her inquiry into Buddhism. Ellis shares, “It’s my goal as a songwriter and performer to open people’s hearts. I hope that every time someone hears a song or leaves an Ellis concert, they feel more open and less alone. I think about my responsibilities as a role model for queer youth. I am committed to being visible and out, not only at Pride events, but also at folk festivals.”
14. Local Impersonator: Roxy Marquis
Whether you like modern artists like Gwen Stefani, or classics like Dolly Parton and Annie Lennox, impersonator Roxy Marquis is sure to tickle your fancy. She’s onstage four to five times a night, Wednesdays through Sundays, at the Gay 90’s La Femme Show Lounge in Minneapolis, each performance tailored to the crowd. Marquis says, “Being an impersonator is a chance to express yourself, and cut loose. There’s a great connection with the audience. There are times when I’m down, and the audience picks me up. It’s like another relationship!” A performer since 1990, this local celebrity’s favorite impersonation is Madonna.
15. Bar to Meet men: Minneapolis Eagle/Bolt
Looking for a stiff one? Like its slogan says, the Eagle/Bolt was the hands-down winner of Lavender’s Fab Place To Meet Men. Whatever your taste, you’re sure to find them at the Eagle, with its diverse crowd. Owner Ed Hopkins says, “We work very hard to create an enjoyable environment for everyone in the gay community, especially sexy, butch men. We have always been known as the place to find masculine men of all ages.” Drawing men from all walks of life, this establishment once again reigns supreme as Minneapolis’s fab bar to meet the man of your dreams—or, your night.
16. Bar to Meet Women: Pi
For the second year in a row, Pi Bar & Restaurant in Minneapolis is the Fab Bar To Meet Women…that is, if you’re female. Co-owner Tara Yule says the bar opened in 2007 because the Cities lacked a very welcoming place for women. Soul Friday, the first Friday of every month, and Dildo Bingo Night, the last Thursday of every month, are good evenings to check out the place. Pi, with its many unique events, has become a successful gathering place for a diverse crowd of women. “People know us as the bar to meet queer women,” Yule remarks.
17. Bar Event: Pumps & Pearls Revue
Every Thursday and Sunday night, expect to find the Town House in St. Paul packed with fabulousness, both in the crowd and onstage. Having celebrated its sixth anniversary recently, the Pumps & Pearls Revue, featuring performers with a variety of musical tastes, is a two-hour extravaganza drawing hundreds of adoring attendees both nights. According to Show Director Lady Victoria, the event shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. “We like to get people involved in the shows we do so it’s a close and comfortable atmosphere,” she shares. The free shows begin at 10 PM Thursdays and 9:30 PM Sundays.
18. Bartender: Sebastian Garsnett
Camp Bar in St. Paul can pride itself on being home to the most fab bartender in town, Sabastian Garsnett. Since October of last year, he has been pouring drinks for Camp patrons. Garsnett says, “Interacting with the customers is fun. There’s no stress, and it’s laid-back.” Stoli Cranberry and Miller Lite are his favorites to tip back while he’s not bartending—which, lucky for customers, is all weekend long. Saturday is habitually Camp’s busiest night, but don’t miss live entertainment there four nights a week.
19. Happy Hour: Vincent-A Restaurant
From 4:30 to 6:30 PM Monday through Friday, happy hour hunters from around the Twin Cities have found a new home: Vincent-A Restaurant. It offers comfort food in a relaxed and comfortable setting. Pull up a chair, then take a moment to enjoy $3 beers, $5 selected cosmos and cocktails, and $3 glasses of selected wine from around the world. Though exoticly named appetizers may intimidate some, the prices surely won’t, so try something new! For many, though, the Vincent Burger is the only way to go. “It is always a great feeling to be recognized for the work we do,” owner Vincent Francoual says. “Seeing my guests happy at my place makes my day.”
20. Restaurant for fine Dining: La Belle Vie
French Mediterranean-inspired La Belle Vie is the fab fine dining restaurant of Minneapolis. Although its five- and eight-course tasting menus change seasonally, the food never loses its appeal. Every season, the restaurant brings in the freshest items in Mediterranean cuisine. Preparation of the savory items on the menu is based on Executive Chef/owner Tim McKee’s inspiration and the seasonality of items, according to partner Bill Summerville. From Littleneck Clam to Parsnip-Pear Cake to wine flights, La Belle Vie is a great place to impress a date. Bon appétit!
21. Restaurant for Breakfast/brunch: Uptown Diner
An employee at this ambrosial Minneapolis-based breakfast and brunch restaurant since the tender age of 12, General Manager Joe Sipprell considers Uptown Diner a “good, rockin’ breakfast place”—which was the inspiration behind the establishment. The diner has been in Uptown for more 20 years in three different locations. “The best dish? Good question!” Sipprell says. The Cajun Breakfast with Andouille sausage battles the palatable Cajun Benedict for the best breakfast/brunch dish at the Uptown Diner—that is, if you like your food with a little bit of a kick.
22. Diner, Drive-in, dive restaurant: The Nook
Mike Runyon and Ted Casper, owners of The Nook in St. Paul, opened this fab restaurant in 2002 as a continuation of a business that has been around since 1937. Their fathers—best friends—used to skip school and hang out at the former incarnation when they were young, and Runyon and Casper followed suit. “We are most-known for our burgers, mainly the Juicy Lucy,” Runyon says. Don’t expect to take a bite of it without getting juice everywhere, however. Along with great burgers, The Nook makes savory breaded pork tenderloin from scratch, along with various unique burger sauces that patrons enjoy as an accompaniment to fries.
23. Restaurant for People- watching: Joe’s Garage
Voted best restaurant for people-watching, Joe’s Garage has a sizeable menu and an even more diverse assemblage. Owner Joe Kaplan says, “You’ll find suburban people, gays, students from next door, and retirees.” Besides the amicable environment and unique patrons, Joe’s Garage has great food. Kaplan’s favorite dish is the Red Thai Curry Risotto, but he also suggests the Spicy Asian Pork Burger or the Lamb Burger. Not into burgers? Check out the mashed potato bar, where you can add an assortment of toppings to the spuds. The choices are almost as varied as the clientele.
24. New Restaurant: Indio
In the heart of Uptown Minneapolis, Indio, which opened this year, takes the cake for Fab New Restaurant in the Twin Cities. Owner/Chef Hector Ruiz and his wife, Erin Ungerman, dig deep into his Mexican heritage by bringing a taste of home to the Cities. The couple also own El Meson and Café Ena, but always wanted to do a Mexican restaurant. Carne Asada is Ungerman’s favorite dish: “The meat melts in your mouth. It’s so flavorful!” At Indio, happy hour is something worth celebrating: $5 margaritas and $3 tap beers every day, 3-6 PM. Check out Indio for some regional Mexican food with a twist.
25. Wine Bar: Toast Wine Bar & Café
Introducing a dog-friendly patio at any wine bar or café just may be the trick to draw in the GLBT crowd. And it apparently has worked for Lavender’s Fab Wine Bar this year, Toast Wine Bar & Café. Apart from its patio, this First Street destination in the Minneapolis Warehouse District has half-price bottle specials and 20-percent-off-glasses deals to amaze the masses during happy hour. It offers an array of worldly wines to choose from, starting at $6, along with a modest food menu including delicate pizzas, antipasti, and cheese plates. The café is open Tuesdays, plus Thursdays through Sundays.
26. Coffee Shop: Wilde Roast Café
Wilde Roast Café in Northeast Minneapolis is an establishment with character. The spirit of the Victorian era mixed with that of 19th-Century gay iconoclast Oscar Wilde wafts through the air with sundry delicious aromas. However, display of local artwork and events hosted for certain community groups are anything but Victorian. Consider The Parlor for private meetings. Wilde would have liked that. Wilde Roast is your sweet tooth’s dream. The Crème Brûlée French Toast and the Flourless Chocolate Cake are fit for a tea party out of the playwright Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest!
27. Barista: Jozef Szathmary, second year in a row
Wilde Roast Café supports self-expression and fun, so no wonder it has the vibrant Jozef Szathmary as a barista. Co-owner Dean Schlaak says, “He will brighten your day no matter how bad it is. His laugh, his smile, are infectious. Jozef has been a true delight to have on staff at the café.” In turn, Szathmary loves the freedom Wilde Roast promotes, declaring, “I can be myself with my customers, completely and exactly as I am. I tune into my customers. I know about their kids, what they drive, and their first names. I love being comical.” He’s Lavender’s fab barista for the second year in a row.
28. Wine Shop: Surdyk’s
While it has moved twice since it first opened in 1934, Surdyk’s Liquor has remained on East Hennepin in Minneapolis throughout those 74 years. It continues its reign as the go-to shop for a slew of items, including the deli, cigar selection, cheeses—and, of course, wine, liquor, and beer. In addition to the store’s 700-member wine club, and its team of cheese and wine consultants, Surdyk’s is also home to a 200-square-foot walk-in humidor to house its more than 250 types of cigars. Continued next category….
29. Liquor Store: Surdyk’s
…Continued from previous category. For the second time, Surdyk’s Liquor has won not one but two Fab 50 awards. Just as in 2004, the store swept both the Fab 50 liquor store and wine shop categories again this year. As owner Jim Surdyk aptly points out, a seemingly perfect score of 100 sits quite well with the staff. Described as vast yet accessible, impressive yet unintimidating, and fun yet focused, the store offers “a wine selection that is unsurpassed both in quantity and quality, a grand and growing imported beer section, spirits for every cocktail in the book, from classic to contemporary, and a national award-winning cheese shop.”
30. Ice Cream Shop: Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream Café
Sebastian Joe’s is, first and last, a café—one is in Uptown and the other is in Linden Hills, both in Minneapolis. Its air perpetually is permeated by a casual atmosphere thick with the caffeinated perfume of numerous designer coffees, and peppered with the familiar faces of locals who have christened it their official hangout. Oh, and there’s the ice cream. The friendly Sebastian Joe’s staff figuratively can hold the shaky hands of first-timers who find themselves affably overwhelmed with the dozens of choices, ice-cream-wise—assuming said first-timer isn’t interested in the floats, malts, sorbets, sundaes, or yogurts. Sebastian Joe’s isn’t just ice cream or a café…it’s nothing short of an experience.
31. Grocery Store: Lunds
If price were the sole criterion for choosing a grocery store, Lavender readers might pass on Lunds…but they obviously place the highest priority on the value returned for that price. Besides, Lavender readers save tons of disposable income by reading free magazines. Although Lunds has a consistent commitment to responsiveness and quality, each supermarket especially is attuned to its individual environment. While all stores contain traditional departments like Meat, Produce, and Organic, in any given store, you might find juice bars, sushi stands, delis, or ethnic options—demonstrating that a grocery store’s real value is reflecting the community it serves.
32. Day Trip: Stillwater
Stillwater is known as “The Birthplace of Minnesota,” because in 1848, the state charter was drafted at John McKusick’s boarding house on Main Street. During the 1800s, the city was a thriving center for logging, at a time it was dubbed the “Jewel of the St. Croix.” That 19th Century-style vibrancy still lingers in the form of a charmingly nostalgic array of antique shops, eateries, and booksellers, many of which can be found on the Main Street of today. Consider the creative intellectual freedom that made Stillwater, then flow with nature on a kayak, canoe, or St. Croix River boat ride.
33. Weekend Getaway: Duluth
Majestic Duluth overlooks the “big waters” of what the Ojibwes called Gichigami, commonly known today as Lake Superior. An afternoon cruise from the docks of fabulous Canal Park is like a coastal cruise on the sea. Commune with nature at nearby Gooseberry Falls, gateway to the gorgeous North Shore. Pay respects at the city’s riveting memorial to three African American men lynched on the site in 1920. Catch a show at Duluth Playhouse, Minnesota’s oldest community theater. Relax/refresh at blissful Duluth Sauna, then kick up your (high) heels at The Main Club, J.T.’s Bar & Grill, and The Flame, just over the bridge in Superior, Wisconsin.
34. Summer Vacation Destination: Provincetown
The favorite summertime haunt of artists and the counterculture elite, Provincetown has retained a traditional Cape Cod aesthetic despite its substantial commercial success. Whether you plan your trip around Women’s Week, the Provincetown Film Festival, or seasonal whale-watching, this GLBT-friendly destination has something of interest for everyone. When you go, give yourself plenty of time to wander through the small town’s winding streets, stopping at a left-leaning gift shop or two, as you make your way to the gloriously unspoiled seashore.
35. Winter Vacation Destination: Palm Springs
Palm Springs has been dubbed a “gay retirement village” for a reason: one of the largest gay and lesbian communities in the nation, paired with impeccable golf courses, fabulous condominiums, and a wealth of gay resorts (some are clothing optional). Just two hours from Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a welcome getaway from city life, with hiking and outdoor recreational opportunities available at every turn. Spend a day visiting the nearby Indian Canyons, or take an aerial tram to the top of breezy Mt. San Jacinto. If you’ve planned your trip around any of the Palm Springs GLBT-oriented events, enjoy wild nightlife back in town.
36. Place to work out: Pedal Indoor Cycling Studio
Owner Maryjo Hackett says, “I think Pedal has just naturally built a strong relationship with the GLBT community. We’ve always had the philosophy that everyone is welcome and important. It’s what makes a strong, vibrant community.” Pedal Indoor Cycling Studio has its own unique charms, according to Hackett: “Although you can take cycling classes all around the Twin Cities at some of the larger clubs in town, we offer a more intimate studio atmosphere, with our main focus on the indoor cycling experience. There are no memberships or contracts—you can purchase one-class, multiple-class, or unlimited passes. And your first class is always free.”
37. Glbt Sports Organizaton: Minneapolis Mayhem Rugby Football Club
“STRENGTH IN NUMBERS” is the first slogan of the Minneapolis Mayhem Rugby Football Club, which certainly coaxed this philosophy away from the field by garnering the beefiest number of votes in this highly competitive Fab category. That daunting thesis notwithstanding, the group is renowned for its access and its openness—Project Mayhem is a community outreach program that describes itself as being “about rugby, brotherhood, friendship, commitment, fun, socializing, and athleticism.” Despite the sport’s outward toughness, literally anyone is welcome at the Mayhem’s practices, but had better be ready—way ready—to adhere to the organization’s second slogan: “Play rugby, damn it!”
38. Pro Sports Team: Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins make us see double—that is, when we look at them, we peer into a mirror that reflects ourselves. As we continue our ongoing struggle for the equality of our relationships—sometimes winning, sometimes…not—the Lake State’s Major League Baseball franchise always has been an inveterate underdog, a small market team in an organization that favors the big franchises. This season, the Twins managed to maintain that rich tradition of Minnesota’s professional sports team, raising our expectations, only to dash our hopes—waiting for the American League Central Pennant tiebreaker before being eliminated from playoff contention, cementing their positions as Minnesota’s pro-sports drama queens.
39. College Sports Team: Minnesota Golden Gophers
The ancient Romans revered the virtue of a “healthy mind in a healthy body,” and a millennium-and-a-half after their empire fell, the University of Minnesota took up the same priorities. The academic laurels of the U are well-known and well-documented, but the athletic prowess is perhaps something of a popular afterthought. Ultimately, it’s all about the numbers: Goldy Gopher, the U’s official mascot, presides over the efforts of 23 varsity teams while competing in the NCAA Division I’s Big Ten. The “Minnesota Rouser,” the U’s official fight song, says it best: “Firm and strong, united are we!”
40. Athlete: Michael Phelps
His penchant for wearing Speedos in public obviously didn’t win Michael Phelps any lesbian-tendered fab votes, so perhaps it was his actual athletic achievements that garnered him this newest title. He currently holds seven world records…and not the vinyl variety. The World’s Most Famous Amphibian gained his most obvious celebrity this summer when he won eight—count ’em—eight gold medals. Phelps’s focus during competition is the stuff of legend, but it’s the mensch he is away from the water that has won him the most admirers. “He’s unbelievably kindhearted with young children after practice,” one teammate reports. In other words, Phelps isn’t just a fab athlete—he’s a fab person.
41. Shopping Center: Mall of America
Was there really any doubt the multitiered behemoth shopping complex that is the Mall of America would snag the most votes for Fab Shopping Center? The 4.2 million square feet of shopping heaven contains more than 500 stores and vendors to rummage through. It offers a multitude of other entertainment wonders to gaze upon, like its 14-screen movie theater, or its Underwater Adventures Aquarium, with a 1.2 million gallon underwater creature tank visitors can view from both top and bottom, perfect for any couple.
42. Place to buy men’s clothing: Macy’s
Following up on last year’s win, Macy’s once again took the top fashion-forward spot for Lavender’s Fab Place To Buy Men’s Clothing. With locations in Downtown Minneapolis, Ridgedale, Rosedale Center, Brookdale Center, Southdale Center, and St. Paul, it’s easily accessible to the vast majority of Twin Cities movers and shakers. The brand-laden store perhaps took the top spot for its wide selection of apparel from a host of popular designers, including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Polo Ralph Lauren. Just like the range of brands to choose from, the Macy’s selections vary in price, attracting wallets from all walks of economic life.
43. Place to buy women’s clothing: Anthropologie
The act of shopping often feels like an anthropology dig, sifting through detritus to find something old and practically useless. Not so with Anthropologie, where—an amicable all-important—the store is geared to be inviting to the sartorial sensibilities of 30- or 40-something female professionals (with just a soupçon of “diva” thrown in). While apparel and accessories represent Anthropologie’s main thrust, it also offers furniture and home furnishings, contributing to what one loyal customer calls “the selling of a lifestyle, rather than products.” Best of all, it features clothes in all sizes, including that vast majority of women who don’t take their meals exclusively through straws.
44. Place to buy eyewear: Look + See Eye Care
Many eye-care clinics look at their patients merely as dollar signs, stocking only their company’s brands, and rushing lab work. As convenient as a shopping mall outlet is, most chains simply do not offer the kind of service necessary to ensure a quality result for the patient. At Look + See Eye Care, next to Wilde Roast Café in Northeast Minneapolis, unique frames and cutting-edge technology set a higher standard for patient care. Customers also appreciate its camera/mirror, which allows them to see clearly what they would look like wearing new frames.
45. Place to buy Jewelry: Scheherazade
The first thing you’re likely to notice at Scheherazade is the service, which is itself of 14-karat quality. “Customer service is paramount at our store, and we strive every day to make sure each customer has a very regal experience,” Scott Rudd, President of Scheherazade Jewelers, told Lavender. If you’re more interested in fixing up jewelry you already have, Scheherazade provides myriad services: jewelry and watch repair, engravings, remounts, restringings, recleanings, and inspections of every sort. Rudd adds, “Scheherazade offers Lavender’s readers a wide selection of exceptional gift options for birthdays, anniversaries, commitment ceremonies, and every other special day.”
46. Place to buy home furnishings: Hom Furnishings
According to the old, slightly sexist chestnut, a man’s home is his castle…but a castle without furnishings is just a pile of rocks. Fortunately, HOM Furnishings can help turn that rock pile into a home. Entering any of the multiple Twin Cities metro locations, a customer will find that the sales staff makes a point of being available, without hovering expectantly—a balancing act worthy of the Flying Wallendas. Then, there’s the furniture: living room or dining room; wood products (in cherry, maple, or pine); the latest fashions—and, very often, the best prices—allowing customers properly to accessorize their castles before pulling up the drawbridge.
47. Place to buy adult gifts: Fantasy Gifts
Some will tell you that fantasy and family don’t mix easily, but Fantasy Gifts COO Colleen Bertino’s experience leans in a different direction: “Our family grew up in Hopkins, where my sister still lives. The Twin Cities has been a great place to grow a business, as the population is so inquisitive and open, and our customers are the inspiration for bringing in of many of our product lines.” Our own GLBT family is in on the fun, too. Bertino points out, “Since we opened more than 28 years ago, many of our employees—sometimes over half—have been from the GLBT community.”
48. Place to get a haircut: Barbers on Bryant
We all know that professionally altering one’s coiffure properly is called “styling,” but please don’t tell that to Brian Preston and Audie Howe of Barbers on Bryant. Preston says, “Barbers on Bryant is gay, lesbian, bisexual—and we are very proud of the large transgender clientele that we have. Our shop is very out!” The establishment’s grandest virtue may be the charming (and economical) blending of old and new. Preston adds, “We serve the Twin Cities by being one of the few ‘new-fashioned’ barbershops that offer all of the services that the old-time barbershop offered—yes, even a good ol’ hot steam towel, lather, straight-razor shave—except in a comfortable, inclusive atmosphere.”
49. Gift Store: Patina
You need not resort to the vapid gift certificate when shopping at Patina. The selection is an eclectic mix of arresting jewelry; playful gadgetry and novelties; luxurious candles and soaps; and much more. The problem, of course, is that when shopping at such a place, you invariably find a few things for yourself. But is that such a problem? The candelabra wine-bottle topper is a style must-have, as is the antiqued silver scissors pendant. And those Roman numeral birthday cake candles? That’s just good retirement planning.
50. Garden Center: Tangletown Gardens
With more than 3,000 perennials and heirloom vegetables, along with a penchant for unusual shrubbery, Tangletown Gardens lives up to its slogan as the ultimate urban garden experience. It’s not just a place to shop, but rather a space to be inspired to plant next year’s gardens, and get educated about products safe for pets and the environment. Tangletown provides landscape design and maintenance services for gardens large and small. It’s the place to find unique outdoor statuary and planting-friendly pottery.