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Best of Harford County 2019

Best of Harford
(tracie rawson/Baltimore Sun)

From the bustle of Bel Air to the Havre de Grace boardwalk to the rolling hills of farm country, Harford County is filled with passionate people and business owners striving to make the community a better place to live.

Here we celebrate local businesses, organizations and people that are the best at what they do.

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A gym that’s also a gathering place. A dental practice that gives back to the community. A furniture shop that has something for almost everyone. These Harford players are at the top of their game — according to you, our readers.

Out & About

Annual festival/event

Winner: BBQ Bash

Honorable mentions:

Bel Air Festival for the Arts

St. Margaret Fall Festival

Harford County Farm Fair Inc.

Art studio/gallery

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Winner: The Liriodendron Mansion

Honorable mentions:

Harford Artists Gallery

Made Me Mine

Charity/nonprofit

Winner: The Humane Society of Harford County

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Honorable mentions:

Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center (SARC)

Tabitha’s House

Harford Family House

Matthew Loftus, right, 3, Mia Sadowski, 4, from left, and Juniper Ester, 3, play during Arena Tots Program at the Arena Club. The athletic club is voted Best in kids activity, child care, gym/fitness center, swim club and runner up for yoga and personal trainer in Harford County for 2019.
Matthew Loftus, right, 3, Mia Sadowski, 4, from left, and Juniper Ester, 3, play during Arena Tots Program at the Arena Club. The athletic club is voted Best in kids activity, child care, gym/fitness center, swim club and runner up for yoga and personal trainer in Harford County for 2019.(Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Kids activity

Winner: The Arena Club

2304 Churchville Rd., Bel Air. 410-734-7300. Thearenaclub.com

“No other club in the area offers quite the combination of fitness and fun that The Arena Club has,” said marketing director Angela Saccenti. The Club, which swept multiple categories in this year’s poll, is much more than your average gym. With aqua therapy pools, trampolines, waterslides and even a stage, concert lighting and a Jumbotron in the Sports Factory, the Club has lots to offer.

The Arena Club’s owners, Keith and Kathy Rawlings, are longtime Harford County residents. They’ve drawn on their own experiences as fitness-loving parents to create a space that offers local families what they really want, both in terms of equipment, classes and on the personnel side.

“I also think there is a sense of community that exists within our building,” said Saccenti. Members of all ages come to the Club for classes, to work out and for the camaraderie with one another and with the Club’s many longtime employees.

Honorable mentions:

Havre De Grace Art Show

Falling Star Parties LLC

Magic Edutainment

Museum

Winner: Steppingstone Farm Museum

Honorable mentions:

Havre De Grace Decoy Museum

Historical Society of Harford County

Havre de Grace Maritime Museum

Park/outdoor spot

Winner: Ma & Pa Heritage Trail

Honorable mentions:

Annie’s Playground

Rocks State Park

Millard Tydings Memorial Park

Private school

Winner: The John Carroll School

Honorable mentions:

St. Margaret School

Harford Day School

The Highlands School

Rainy-day activity

Winner: Horizon Cinemas Fallston

Honorable mentions:

Bel Air Library

Independent Brewing Company

Caprichos Books

Special events venue

Winner: Rockfield Manor

Honorable mentions:

Independent Brewing Company

The Liriodendron Mansion

Water’s Edge

Food & Drink

Beer, wine and/or liquor store

Winner: Ronnie’s Beverage Warehouse

Honorable mentions:

Independent Brewing Co.

Friendship Wine & Liquor

Bel Air Liquors

Sunny Day Cafe, co-owned by Ilias Vassilaras, right, and John Smoudianis, is voted the Best Caterer of Harford County.
Sunny Day Cafe, co-owned by Ilias Vassilaras, right, and John Smoudianis, is voted the Best Caterer of Harford County.(Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Caterer

Winner: Sunny Day Café

101 S. Main St., Bel Air. 410-877-9020. Sunnydaycafebelair.com

Ownership of Bel Air favorite, Sunny Day Café, changed last May, but longtime fans don’t need to worry: the most loved elements of the café, including the menu, aren’t going anywhere.

“The biggest change is the interior,” said co-owner Ilias “Louie” Vassilaras. “We brought in artists to do murals. But as far as food, it’s very minor changes. If it’s not broken, why fix it?”

On the catering side, Sunny Day is popular for its breakfast dishes, like French toast, eggs and home fries, but it is also popular as a lunchtime option for parties and offices. Across the menu, the café uses as many local ingredients as possible and is committed to great flavors and variety.

“The big thing is that we’re open to discussion about whatever food you want,” said Vassilaras. “We have a set menu but if you want something we don’t normally have, we can accommodate that.”

Honorable mentions:

Pairings Bistro

Liberatore’s Ristorante & Catering

One Eleven Main

Farmers market/stand

Winner: Bel Air Farmers Market

Honorable mentions:

Brad’s Farm Market

Wilson’s Farm Market

Harman’s Farm Market

Grocery store

Winner: Wegmans

Honorable mentions:

ShopRite

Aldi

Sprouts Farmers Market

Vineyard/winery

Winner: Fiore Winery & Distillery

Honorable mention:

Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery

Shopping

Antiques

Winner: The Painted Mill

Honorable mentions:

Belle Patri

JoRetro

Bahoukas Antique Mall & Beer MuZeum

Car dealership

Winner: Jones Junction

Honorable mentions:

Boyle Buick GMC

Thompson Automotive

Autowerkes

Clothing boutique

Winner: Urban Pearl Boutique

Honorable mentions:

Tiger Lily

Boutique 44

John’s Men’s Clothing

Jennifer Lane owner of Belle Patri in Jarrettsville. The store has a mix of merchandise both new and used. Best of Harford Magazine issue.
Jennifer Lane owner of Belle Patri in Jarrettsville. The store has a mix of merchandise both new and used. Best of Harford Magazine issue.(Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

Consignment shop/resale shop

Winner: Belle Patri

3725 Federal Hill Rd., Jarrettsville. 410-692-5341. Bellepatri.com

Whether you’re an antiques aficionado, a design fiend on the hunt for a unique new piece, or decorating a first apartment on a shoestring budget, you’ll find something interesting for your home at Belle Patri, a Jarrettsville shop that’s helped local residents outfit their spaces for more than a dozen years.

“I think people like that we have mix of new and consignment. We’re getting new, unique and one-of-a-kind things and things at different price points,” said owner Jennifer Lane. The shop also offers complimentary decorating advice for store guests and has an in-home decorating consultancy.

The shop often partners with other local businesses to host “extracurricular activities” including painting classes, flower arranging and more. “We like to create a community environment,” said Lane.

Honorable mentions:

Kid to Kid

Uptown Cheapskate

Painted Daisy Consignment Boutique

Furniture store

Winner: Simply Grande

Honorable mentions:

Gavigan’s Furniture

Harford Home Furniture & Mattress (formerly Brass & Oak)

Gift shop

Winner: The Nest on Main

Honorable mentions:

Full Heart Soul~utions

Flavor Cupcakery & Bake Shop

Richardson’s Flowers and Gifts

Jeweler

Winner: Saxon’s Diamond Centers

Honorable mentions:

Julie Ellyn Designs

Home

Flooring and carpeting

Winner: Carpets By Denny Lee

Honorable mentions:

Top Notch Flooring America

Krause Renovations

The Mill team has more gardening know-how than ever before, thanks to a high-level horticulture expert who is based in Kingstown, but trains employees and helps answer questions across locations.
The Mill team has more gardening know-how than ever before, thanks to a high-level horticulture expert who is based in Kingstown, but trains employees and helps answer questions across locations.

Garden center/nursery

Winner: The Mill of Bel Air

424 N. Main St., Bel Air. 410-838-6111. Themillofbelair.com

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Since 1886, The Mill of Bel Air has been an integral part of the Harford County community. To the casual observer, The Mill might look the same as it has for many of those years. But behind the scenes, a few things are different.

Thanks to new partnerships and initiatives at the company’s other locations, including its new Eastern Shore location The Mill of Kingstown and its southern Pennsylvania outpost, The Mill of Red Lion, The Mill’s Bel Air location has expanded capabilities.

“We benefit from the other locations and the expertise they have and that’s something we offer our customers,” said director of operations and communications, April Cooper.

The Mill team has more gardening know-how than ever before, thanks to a high-level horticulture expert who is based in Kingstown, but trains employees and helps answer questions across locations. Plus, the company’s capacity to germinate and package its own brand of vegetable seeds, which happens at the Pennsylvania location, means Bel Air customers have access to a line of seeds that is both successful and very affordable.

Honorable mentions:

The Home Depot

Richardson’s Flowers and Gifts

Greenspring Nursery Stone and Gifthouse

Home improvement contractor

Winner: B+M restorations

Honorable mentions:

Bel Air Construction Inc.

Carl’s Door Service Inc.

Lynch Design | Build

Homebuilder

Winner: Huskins Builders Inc.

Honorable mention:

Taylorbilt Homes Inc.

Housecleaning service

Winner: The Clean Castle LLC

Honorable mention :

Absolutely Clean

Interior designer/decorator

Winner: Simply Grande Home Furnishings & Simply Grande Interiors

Honorable mention:

Ryan Furniture

Landscaper

Winner: Lawnscape

Honorable mentions:

HillSide Lawn Service

JSM LawnCare Inc.

Forest Hill Landscaping

Plumber

Winner: PlumbCrazy

Honorable mentions:

Krause Plumbing

Wayne’s Quality Plumbing Services

Garrison Plumbing LLC

Recreation

Dance lessons

Winner: Supernova Dance Company

Honorable mentions:

The Rage Box

Dance Conservatory of Maryland

Bel Air Athletic Club

Golf course

Winner: Mountain Branch

Honorable mentions:

Bulle Rock Golf Course

Gym/fitness center

Winner: The Arena Club

Honorable mentions:

Bel Air Athletic Club

Spartan Sports and Fitness Center

Snap Fitness

Martial arts classes

Winner: U.S. Taekwondo Academy

Honorable mentions:

Method MMA

Bel Air Athletic Club

Tae Kwon Do Masters

Music lessons

Winner: Music Land

Honorable mentions:

Maryland Conservatory of Music

Bel Air Music Studios

Swim club

Winner: The Arena Club

Honorable mentions:

Bel Air Athletic Club

Fallston Swim and Tennis Club Inc.

Fountain Green Swim Club

Yoga classes

Winner: True Yoga

Honorable mentions:

Love Evolution Studio

Yoga Centric

The Arena Club

Health & Wellness

Alternate wellness center

Winner: Bel Air Athletic Club

Honorable mentions:

True Cycling Studio

Dr. Rob Reier-Integrative Care of Bel Air (previously Chiropractic Care of Bel Air)

Lavish Salon & Spa

Chiropracter

Winner: Premier Chiropractic

Honorable mentions:

Dr. Rob Reier-Integrative Care of Bel Air (previously Chiropractic Care of Bel Air)

Dr. Robert T. Poane, DC

Dr. William K. Blaker, DC

Day spa

Winner: Spa on The Boulevard

Honorable mentions:

Visage Salon

Advanced Aesthetics & Med Spa

Massage Envy- Bel Air

Dr. Mary Teddy Wray, of Laurel Bush Family Dentistry is voted Best Dentist of Harford County.
Dr. Mary Teddy Wray, of Laurel Bush Family Dentistry is voted Best Dentist of Harford County.(Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Dental practice

Winner: Laurel Bush Family Dentistry

2111 Laurel Bush Rd., Ste. E, Bel Air. 443-512-8703. Laurelbushfamilydentistry.com

Since its opening in 2001, Laurel Bush Family Dentistry has established itself as a top resource for general, cosmetic and pediatric dentistry and orthodontics.

“It’s always growing,” said practice owner and CEO Dr. Mary Teddy Wray, noting that the practice has added new practitioners over the past few years and continues to focus on excellence in dentistry.

In addition to providing high-quality dental care, she is a strong believer in giving back to the community. She sits on multiple boards and has won a variety of awards for her efforts both in and out of the practice.

Recently, she’s been involved in the Center for the Arts in Harford County and the Harford County Commission for Women. She’s also in the planning stages of a project with the United Way — a clinic that will gather dentists to make dentures for patients in need.

Honorable mentions:

Bel Air Orthodontics - Dr Stephen Godwin

Growing Smiles Pediatric Dentistry

Smile Partners of Bel Air and Havre de Grace

Eye care

Winner: Seidenberg Protzko Eye Associates

Honorable mentions:

Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine Bel Air

Advanced Eye Care

MyEyeDr.

OB/GYN

Winner: Susquehanna OB/GYN and Nurse Midwifery

Honorable mentions:

Capital Women’s Care — Bel Air

Women’s Care OB/GYN - Bel Air

Orthodontist

Winner: Dr. Stephen L. Godwin - Bel Air Orthodontics

Honorable mentions:

Laurel Bush Family Dentistry

Dr. Joseph LaPonzina, DDS

Smile Partners of Bel Air and Havre de Grace

Pediatric practice

Winner: Pediatric Partners

Honorable mentions:

Bright Oaks Pediatric Center LLC

Box Hill Pediatrics

Forest Hill Pediatrics LLC

Physical therapist

Winner: Agape Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation

Honorable mentions:

Gold Medal Physical Therapy

MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network

VIP PT

Primary care physician

Winner: Dr. Stephen G. Smaldore

Honorable mentions:

Winters Run Family Medical Center

Dr. Julie L. Tinney

Harford Primary Care at Box Hill

Therapist/counselor

Winner: Joel Lightfoot

Honorable mentions:

Sheppard Pratt Health System

The Center for Trauma, Stress, and Anxiety LLC

Harford Counseling

Urgent care

Winner: Patient First - Bel Air

Honorable mentions:

ExpressCare Urgent Care Center

MedStar PromptCare at Bel Air

Total Urgent Care

Personal services

Drs. Ruby Schapp, left, and Keith Gold, right, are the husband and wife owners of Chadwell Animal Hospital, which was voted Harford County's best animal hospital.
Drs. Ruby Schapp, left, and Keith Gold, right, are the husband and wife owners of Chadwell Animal Hospital, which was voted Harford County's best animal hospital.(Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun)

Animal hospital

Winner: Chadwell Animal Hospital

Singer Square, 3004 Emmorton Rd., Abingdon. 443-512-8338. Chadwellanimalhospital.com

Chadwell Animal Hospital is a busy place. With a patient list including puppies, bald eagles, deer, and more, the veterinarians at Chadwell see a lot of variety – and they like it that way.

“It’s always something new every single day. We have no idea what’s going to come through,” said Dr. Ruby Schaupp, who owns the 17-year old practice with her husband, Dr. Keith Gold.

The practice’s seven veterinarians and staff pride themselves on flexibility, compassion and love for their jobs. “What we hear from clients is that we have a very compassionate staff and (they) are very helpful,” said Dr. Schaupp. “We try to accommodate our clients as much as possible. We’re very flexible as far as trying to work with people with their schedule or needs. It’s not cookie cutter medicine. And I think the doctors here, we really love what we do and I think it shows.”

Honorable mentions:

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Hickory Veterinary Hospital

Bel Air Veterinary Hospital

Animal Emergency Hospital

Auto repair

Winner: Boyle Buick GMC

Honorable mentions:

Forest Hill Automotive

Tire Village

Hamilton Service Center

Bank/credit union

Winner: APGFCU

Honorable mentions:

Freedom Federal Credit Union

Harford Bank

Bank of America

Barbershop

Winner: Old Line Barbers

Honorable mentions:

Brian Bunce Barbers

Towne Barbers

Child care

Winner: The Arena Club

Honorable mentions:

Stonewall Day Care Center

Hickory Child Development Center

Trellis Lane KinderCare

Dry cleaner

Winner: ZIPS Dry Cleaners

Honorable mentions:

Kroh’s Cleaners

Amyclae Cleaners

Joy Cleaners

Financial adviser

Winner: The Kelly Group

Honorable mentions:

Harford Financial Group

Byron Knoble - Wells Fargo Advisors

Wells Fargo Advisors

Florist

Winner: Richardson’s Flowers and Gifts

Honorable mentions:

Petals 'n Posies

Ann’s Garden

Jonathan’s Weddings & Flowers

Hair salon

Winner: Jordan Thomas Salon & Spa

Spa on The Boulevard

NVS Salon & Spa

Visage Salon

Pet groomer

Winner: 4 Paws Spa and Training Center

Honorable mentions:

Best Friends Fur Ever

Home Sweet Home Dog Grooming

PetSmart

Real estate agent

Winner: Mary Jones, Berkshire Hathaway Penfed Realty (formerly with Keller Williams)

Honorable mentions:

Compass Home Group, Tim & Michele Langhauser

Steve Kuzma, Diana Realty

Cecil Hill Jr., Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Tattoo parlor

Winner: Flesh Tattoo Company

Honorable mentions:

Instant History Tattoo & Art Gallery

Tattoo Tattoo Art Studio & Boutique LLC

Pinz and Needlez Tattoo

Travel agency

Winner: Travel Makers

Honorable mentions:

Hurley World Travel

Partners In Travel Inc.

Misty Kabernagel

Personalities

Clergyperson

Winner: Ben Cacharis, Mountain Christian Church

Msgr. Kevin T. Schenning, St. Margaret

Rev. Matthew DeFusco, St. Margaret School

Wade Haskins, Freedom Church, Bel Air

Harford County Sheriff's Department L-R Deputy Anthony DeMarino (L) (best police officer), Sheriff Jeff Gahler (best elected official) and Deputy Robert Witt (R)(runner up for best police officer) pictured at their headquarters in Bel Air.
Harford County Sheriff's Department L-R Deputy Anthony DeMarino (L) (best police officer), Sheriff Jeff Gahler (best elected official) and Deputy Robert Witt (R)(runner up for best police officer) pictured at their headquarters in Bel Air.(Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

Elected official (in office in 2019)

Winner: Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler

45 S. Main St., Bel Air. 410-828-6600. Harfordsheriff.org

Sheriff Jeff Gahler is now in his 36th year of law enforcement and his fifth year as sheriff of Harford County. Even after all that time, his enthusiasm for the job hasn’t waned. “I love the profession, the men and women willing to come out and give so much back to the community,” he said.

Gahler isn’t the only honoree in his office. One of his deputies, Anthony DeMarino, was voted Best Police Officer and Deputy Robert Witt was a runner-up for the same honor. That his team would receive the honors isn’t a surprise to the sheriff.

“The vast majority of cards, notes, emails and comments on our social media are praising the men and women of this office,” he said. “I’m lucky to benefit by the professionalism of all 600-some of our employees. Sometimes our deputies amaze me —the size of their hearts and the lengths they go to on some situations.”

Honorable mentions:

Tony Giangiordano, county councilman

Barry Glassman, county executive

Jason Gallion, state senator

Personal trainer

Winner: Carolyn Riffel, Bel Air Athletic Club

Honorable mentions:

Tim Cain, The Arena Club

Heather Rockhill, Snap Fitness, Fallston

Eugenia Hawley, Bel Air Athletic Club

Police officer

Winner: Anthony DeMarino, Harford Sheriff’s Office

Honorable mentions:

James Farrell, Bel Air Police Department

Robert Witt, Harford Sheriff’s Office

Principal

Winner: Anna Shanahan, St. Margaret School

Honorable mentions:

Blaine Hawley, Red Pump Elementary School

Tom Durkin, The John Carroll School

Tom Smith, Youths Benefit Elementary School

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