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Best of Howard County 2020: Residents’ favorite people, places and things to do

Looking to join a gym? Need a salon to try out a new hairstyle? What about a place to upgrade your home furniture?

The Best of Howard County can help. More than 53,000 votes were cast in this year’s readers’ poll, culling a list of the 75 top people to know, places to go and things to do.

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Profiles by Mike Klingaman, Edward Lee and Mary Carole McCauley

Editor’s note: Winners and honorable mentions were determined by popular vote. Readers were invited to nominate and vote online in August and September.

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Food & drink

Beer, wine and/or liquor store: Pine Orchard Liquors

Honorable mentions:

The Perfect Pour

The Wine Bin

Allview

Caterer: Putting on the Ritz

Honorable mentions:

T&J Waffles

Kloby’s Smokehouse

Facci Restaurant

Farmers market/stand: Jenny’s Market

Honorable mentions:

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Frank’s Produce & Greenhouses

Baugher’s Fruits & Vegetables

Clark’s Farm Stand

Health food/supplement store: David’s Natural Market

Honorable mentions:

Sprouts Farmers Market

Roots Market

My Organic Market

Jim, left, and Bill Miller, who are brothers, hold a salmon at their store, Today's Catch Seafood in the Wilde Lake Center.
Jim, left, and Bill Miller, who are brothers, hold a salmon at their store, Today's Catch Seafood in the Wilde Lake Center. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Place to buy seafood: Today’s Catch

10451 Twin Rivers Road, Columbia. 410-730-6600. facebook.com/TodaysCatchWildeLake/

Jim Miller is awake and on the phone at 3:30 a.m. five times a week hunting top-quality seafood for Today’s Catch, which he and his brother, Bill, have run together since 1985. As the operation’s primary buyer and general manager, Jim Miller said he and his brother have high standards for seafood. “We’re very picky,” he said. “I like to say — and I really do mean this — I won’t present anything for sale that I wouldn’t take home to have myself.”

Miller said he usually buys seafood from three wholesalers in Jessup and Elkridge, loads them in his truck and returns to the store in the Wilde Lake neighborhood to cut and prepare them for sale. Miller said he has accommodated special requests. “I’m not particularly concerned about price,” he said. “My customers over the years have become accustomed to nothing but the best. So that’s what I give them.”

Honorable mentions:

Wegmans

Hudson Coastal

Wild Seafood

Health & wellness

Alternative wellness center: Morrison Chiropractic

Honorable mentions:

Glenwood Acupuncture

Haven on the Lake

Awaken Wellness

Audiologist/hearing repair: The Kaplan Hearing Center

Honorable mentions:

Diana Wagner, Audiology First

Chiropractor: Morrison Chiropractic

Honorable mentions:

Howard County Chiropractic

Dr Larry Plotkin, Elkridge Chiropractic Center

Elkridge Chiropractic Center

Day spa: Mason & Friends Salon

Honorable mentions:

The Pearl Spa

The Spa at Turf Valley

The Face Place

Dental practice: Roschella & Zinger Dental Group

Honorable mentions:

Columbia Smiles Family Dentistry

Dobbin Dental Suite

Howard County Smiles

Eye care: Physicians Eye Care Center

Honorable mentions:

Wilmer Eye Institute

Columbia Family Eye Care

Professional Vision

Medispa: Doctor K MediSpa

Honorable mentions:

Between the Lines Medispa

Medical Skin Therapeutics

Bolus Med Spa

OB/GYN: Capital Women’s Care

Honorable mentions:

Signature OB/GYN

Saint Agnes Medical Group: Women’s OB/GYN Group

Jeri Shuster, M.D., P.A, and Women’s Center Inc.

Orthodontist: OX Orthodontix

Honorable mentions:

Vanguard Orthodontics

Dr. Victoria M. Switzer, Ellicott City Orthodontics

Baltimore Orthodontic Group

Dr. Zaneb Beams is Howard's best pediatrician. Beams is in an exam room at her Columbia practice.
Dr. Zaneb Beams is Howard's best pediatrician. Beams is in an exam room at her Columbia practice. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

Pediatric practice: Dr. Zaneb Beams, Johns Hopkins Medicine

10794 Hickory Ridge Road, Columbia. 443-832-9260.

Her name can befuddle young patients who swear by Dr. Zaneb Beams, a Columbia pediatrician. To them, she is simply “Dr. Z” or maybe “Dr. Beans.”

“I roll with it,” says Beams, whose familial style, medical savvy and accessibility have made her a favorite in Central Maryland. Call her after hours and you get her cellphone; send a text and her response can be swift.

“It’s important to be available, so that young parents don’t go to Google and get [a wrong diagnosis],” says Beams, 47, of Ellicott City.

A mother of four, she’ll speak directly to her “kiddos,” as she calls her clients, because “it’s viscerally apparent to me how much young people aren’t listened to.” The welcoming vibe in her office is genuine, says Beams, whose parents emigrated from Pakistan.

“I come from a culture that values hospitality where, if someone comes to your house, you are focused 100 percent on their comfort and well-being,” she says. “I aim for that in my office because, frankly, I spend more time there than at home.”

Honorable mentions:

Howard County Pediatrics

Kenneth K. Klebanow and Associates

The Pediatric Center

Physical therapist: Performance Physical Therapy and Sports

Honorable mentions:

Morrison Chiropractic

Revive Physical Therapy

Howard County Physical Therapy

Plastic surgeon: Dr. William Kanter, Kanter Plastic Surgery

Honorable mentions:

Dr. Eric Chang, Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

Dr. Brian Lee, Maryland Oculoplastic Surgery

Therapist/counselor: Anchor Counseling Centers

Honorable mentions:

Stanton Psychotherapy (tie)

Together Couples Counseling (tie)

National Family Resiliency Center

Dr. Greenberger, Collaborative Counseling Center

Urgent care: Patient First, Columbia

Honorable mentions:

Ouch! Urgent Care

Righttime Medical Care

PM Pediatrics

Veterinary practice: Countryside Veterinary Clinic

Honorable mentions:

Triadelphia Veterinary Clinic

Cat and Dog Hospital of Columbia

VCA Columbia

Home

Flooring and carpeting: Bode Floors

Honorable mentions:

A Plus Carpet and Flooring

Vertical Connection Carpet One Floor & Home

Patricia Muth of Columbia, a longtime customer, selects pansies at Frank's Produce and Greenhouse, which was named Best Nursery in Howard County.
Patricia Muth of Columbia, a longtime customer, selects pansies at Frank's Produce and Greenhouse, which was named Best Nursery in Howard County. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Garden center/nursery: Frank’s Produce and Greenhouses

6686 Old Waterloo Road, Elkridge. 410-799-4566. franksproducegreenhouses.com.

On a recent fall day at Frank’s Produce and Greenhouses in Elkridge, the red peppers were as eye-catching as the chrysanthemums. There were cauliflowers the size of the average human brain and ghostly white pumpkins that practically begged to be carved into the shape of a skull.

That’s why this open-air market, selling produce and flowers grown in eight greenhouses sprawling over 34,000 square feet, has been a hit with customers since it opened in 1975.

Frank’s is open daily from April through December. In addition to the produce that the staff grows, the market sells locally sourced honey, cheeses, jellies, eggs and meats.

“We’re a family-run business” said Taylor Rhodes, Frank’s manager. “We’re constantly doing our best to improve and expand our offerings and to keep our prices low.”

Honorable mentions:

Sun Nurseries

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Home Depot

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Lauren’s Garden Service & Native Plant Nursery

Heating/air conditioning repair: Environmental Systems Associates

Honorable mentions:

BGE Home

Ron Air Heating & Air Conditioning

ASC Heating & Air

Homebuilder: Columbia Builders

Honorable mention:

Kogut Architects LLC

Housecleaners: The Neat Nest Maids

Honorable mentions:

Good Life Custom Cleaners

Sara’s Cleaning Service

Home Sweet Home Cleaning

Landscaper: Sun Nurseries

Honorable mentions:

Absolute Landscape & Turf Services Inc.

Lauren’s Garden Service & Native Plant Nursery

Outdoor Architects

Plumber: Ken Griffin Plumbing Services Inc.

Honorable mentions:

Ehrhardt Brothers Quality Plumbing Inc.

JA Smith & Co.

Zepp Plumbing & Heating

Real estate agent: Bob Lucido, Bob Lucido Team of Keller Williams

Honorable mentions:

Dalia Bracy, The Wendy Slaughter Team of Elevate Real Estate Brokerage

Maria Weaver, Re/max Advantage Realty

Donna Weaver, The Wendy Slaughter Team of Elevate Real Estate Brokerage

Remodeler: Bill’s Handyman & Home Improvement LLC

Senior housing community: The Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant

Honorable mentions:

Kenwood Care Glen Hill

Winter Growth Howard Center

Heartlands Senior Living Village at Ellicott City

Out & about

Annual festival/event: Howard County Fair

Honorable mentions:

Wine in the Woods

Columbia Festival of the Arts

Columbia Lakefront Summer Festival

Art gallery: HorseSpirit Arts Gallery

Honorable mentions:

Columbia Art Center

Board & Brush Creative Studio, Columbia

Kids’ activities: Clark’s Elioak Farm

Honorable mentions:

Howard County Parks and Recreation

Howard County Fair

Howard County Conservancy

Members of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra perform "Carnival of the Animals" at the Chrysalis in Symphony Woods.
Members of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra perform "Carnival of the Animals" at the Chrysalis in Symphony Woods. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Performing arts group: Columbia Orchestra

410-465-8777. columbiaorchestra.org.

When the COVID-19 pandemic descended on Maryland in March, the Columbia Orchestra had approximately 11,000 reasons to figure out how to keep the music coming.

That’s roughly how many audience members each year attend concerts put on by the community orchestra founded in 1977.

“When it became impossible to perform live, the Orchestra pivoted quickly to make our past performances and some new material available online for people who were quarantining at home and eager for music to lift their spirits,” executive director Katherine Keefe wrote in an email.

In September, the orchestra performed its first in-person concert in seven months for a small, socially distanced audience — Camille Saint-Saens' “Carnival of the Animals” with performers from Dance Connections.

The orchestra, composed of 80 to 100 musicians, is known for juxtaposing historic masterpieces with compositions by new voices outside the traditional canon. When the musicians can return to the concert hall, they’ll begin rehearsing a flute concerto that the orchestra commissioned from Morgan State University composer James Lee III, which was inspired by Native American stories.

Honorable mentions:

Rep Stage

Young Columbians

David Bach Trio

Special event venue: Merriweather Post Pavilion

Honorable mentions:

Howard County Conservancy

Belmont Mansion

The Great Room at Historic Savage Mill

Volunteer organization: Columbia Community Care

Honorable mentions:

Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center

Success in Style

Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Department

Personal services

Accountant: Dembo Jones

Honorable mentions:

A & B Solutions

Bowman and Company LLC

Jennifer Perlin CPA

Auto repair: British American Auto Care

Honorable mentions:

Hillmuth Certified Automotive

Sunoco, Clarksville

O’Donnell Honda

Bank/credit union: APL Federal Credit Union

Honorable mentions:

M&T Bank

Fulton Bank

Tower Federal Credit Union

Stylist Aubrey Cronin gives a fade haircut to Andrew Leonard of Towson at Floyd's 99 Barbershop, which was voted best in Howard County.
Stylist Aubrey Cronin gives a fade haircut to Andrew Leonard of Towson at Floyd's 99 Barbershop, which was voted best in Howard County. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Barbershop: Floyd’s 99 Barbershop

9050 Baltimore National Pike, Suite 102, Ellicott City. 410-313-8420. floydsbarbershop.com.

The walls are plastered with posters of rock stars from the Beatles to Beyoncé. Music plays nonstop, blaring out Stevie Wonder one minute and Taylor Swift the next. Clearly, this is a barbershop where people can let their hair down.

“Our atmosphere is fun, welcoming and high energy,” says Lisa Campbell, manager of Floyd’s 99, one in a national chain named for the folksy small-town barber on “The Andy Griffifth Show” in the early 1960s. The resemblance ends there.

Regulars come here for $26 haircuts, beard trims, skin fades and (before the pandemic) a 14-step shave using hot towels and cocoa butter. While face masks are now required, stylists neatly work around them in the 12-chair shop that seems to rock around the clock.

Besides the loud decor, customers create lasting bonds with their barbers.

“We’re not just stylists; we’re therapists,” the manager says. “People walk in off the street and tell us their whole life story, then come back next time and give us updates.”

In that way, at least, Floyd’s mirrors its namesake.

Honorable mentions:

Columbia Barber Shop

Sal’s Barber Shop

Rob’s Barber Shop

Child care: Bet Yeladim Preschool

Honorable mentions:

Kid’s Time Out

Kiddie Academy of Ellicott City

Okinawan Karate Dojo

Computer repair: Hackers Ink

Honorable mentions:

ScottE Software Development

Computer Installations Highland

Doggie day care: Camp Bow Wow

Honorable mentions:

Dogtopia

Pinkie’s Play Place

The Coventry School for Dogs and Their People

Family lawyer: Mulinazzi Law Office

Honorable mentions:

Weinberg & Schwartz LLC

Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny

Lorraine Whittaker

Financial adviser: Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors

Honorable mentions:

Michael D. Heigh Jr., Edward Jones

StratWealth

Geier Asset Management (tie)

Michael Havlik, Tide Creek Financial Group (tie)

Florist: Wilhide’s Unique Flowers & Gifts

Honorable mentions:

The Flower Basket Ltd.

Raimondi’s Florist

Clarksville Flower Station

Interior decorator/designer: LS Interior Design Group

Honorable mentions:

Homewood Interiors

Bonnie Leyh, Interior Stylings LLC

Natalie Jobity, Elan Image Management

Pet groomer: K-9 Design

Honorable mentions:

The Dog Wash

Pinkie’s Play Place

Highland Groomery

Salon: Mason & Friends Salon

Honorable mentions:

Define Hair

Thirty hair

Gloss Hair Studio

Travel agent: Magical Vacation Planner by Christina Lepre

Personalities

Blog: Scott E’s Blog

Honorable mentions:

HoCo Progress Report

Just in Weather, Justin Berk

The Merriweather Post

Clergyperson: The Rev. Paige Getty, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia

Honorable mentions:

Dr. David Anderson, Bridgeway Community Church

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The Rev. Gerald Bowen, St. John’s Catholic Church

Monsignor Joseph Luca, St. Louis Church

Elected official: County Executive Calvin Ball

Honorable mentions:

Gov. Larry Hogan

Christina Delmont-Small, Howard County Board of Education

State Del. Vanessa Atterbeary

Pandemic Public Hero: Columbia Community Care

Honorable mentions:

Mark Miller

Jennifer Jones

Chris Miller jokes around with his clients as they work out in his home gym. Columbia native Chris Miller, founder of MaxxFit Sports Performance, has been voted by readers as the top trainer in Howard County.
Chris Miller jokes around with his clients as they work out in his home gym. Columbia native Chris Miller, founder of MaxxFit Sports Performance, has been voted by readers as the top trainer in Howard County. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Sun)

Personal Trainer: Chris Miller, MaxxFit Sports Performance

6120 Shaded Leaf Court, Columbia. 443-864-7236. maxxfitsportsperformance.com

Despite shuttering MaxxFit Sports Performance on Aug. 28, Chris Miller and co-coaches Jill Fininzio and Tre Aikens have continued to train 30 clients — mostly high school and college athletes — in a gym in the garage of his home in Columbia. And 12 more are on a waitlist.

Miller tailors exercise regimens for his clients, concentrating on explosive power for athletes and flexibility for others looking to lose weight or build strength. “For the everyday client, my philosophy is to get up and move,” the 1989 Oakland Mills graduate said. “As we start to age, it’s all about moving and getting that person to function more freely. So as we age, we don’t want to be stiff and have arthritis kick in and so forth. So for me, I want to get you moving and get you feeling good internally, mentally, physically. That’s huge.”

Honorable mentions:

Bonnie Pace, Columbia Association

Campanaro Strength & Conditioning

Dennis Albright, Performance Private Training

Police officer: Chief Lisa Myers

Honorable mentions:

Ryan McCrone

Chris Valentine

Leah Littlefield

Principal: Marcy Leonard, Wilde Lake High School

Honorable mentions:

David Burton, Glenelg High School

Nancy Thompson, Talbott Springs Elementary School

Edward Cosentino, Clemens Crossing Elementary School

Recreation

CrossFit box: CrossFit ReVamped

Dance lessons: Dance Connections

Honorable mentions:

B Funk dance studio

Kinetics Dance Theatre

Arabesque

Golf course: Hobbit’s Glen Golf Course

Honorable mentions:

The Timbers at Troy

Waverly Woods Golf Course

Fitness instructors Ariella Bell, left, and Shelley Sharkey, owner of Miss Fit gym, lead "Group Fight," a mixed martial arts class. Miss Fit relocated after the 2018 flood to the former Ellicott theater on Main Street.
Fitness instructors Ariella Bell, left, and Shelley Sharkey, owner of Miss Fit gym, lead "Group Fight," a mixed martial arts class. Miss Fit relocated after the 2018 flood to the former Ellicott theater on Main Street. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Gym: Miss FIT

8225 Main St., Ellicott City. 410-461-8225. missfitstrong.com.

Here, amid the barbells, benches and bicycles, the mantra is a simple one: We empower women. Women learn to power up from head to toe. Fitness is as much a state of mind as it is of matter, says gym owner Shelley Sharkey:

"We tell them, ‘Love who you are in your skin right now and your possibilities are endless.’ "

Group workouts are the rule at Miss FIT, where members embrace a sense of community from 10 instructors and are welcomed by their peers from the start. One doesn’t feel judged in this gym, which opened in 2013 and has withstood a flood, which forced it to move last year, and the pandemic to cater to mask-wearing clients from 18 to 80 years old. How popular are classes? One starts at 5:15 a.m.

More often than not, members leave sessions self-assured, says Sharkey, 38 and a mother of two:

“A woman comes here, conquers physical challenges and walks out the door with her head held higher and a smile on her face, ready to take on whatever life throws at her.”

Honorable mentions:

YMCA

Columbia Gym, Clarksville

Fitness Together, Ellicott City

Martial arts classes: Okinawan Karate Dojo

Honorable mentions:

Klotz Institute of Karate

Maryland Jeet Kune Do

Krav Maga Maryland

Music lessons: Mike’s Music

Honorable mentions:

Damon Foreman Music Academy

Red Bridge Studios

Pool for kids: Forest Hill Swim & Tennis Club

Honorable mentions:

Hammond Park Pool

North Saint John’s Swim & Tennis Club

Watermont Swim Club

Yoga studio: The Yoga Center of Columbia

Honorable mentions:

Shift Yoga

Haven on the Lake

Yoga Love Clarksville

Shopping

Antique shop: The Antique Center at Historic Savage Mill

Honorable mentions:

Antique Depot

Caplan’s Auction & Appraisal Company

Retropolitan Fine Antiques and Vintage

Bike shop: Race Pace Bicycles

Honorable mentions:

REI

Cycle Mill

Bookstore: Barnes & Noble

Honorable mentions:

Books With a Past

Second Edition Books

Bridal shop: Cherie Amour

Car dealership: Apple Ford

Honorable mentions:

CarMax

O’Donnell Honda

Jim Coleman Honda

Clothing boutique: Sweet Elizabeth Jane

Honorable mentions:

EC Pops

Lee Andersen Art Clothing Boutique

Consignment/resale shop: 2nd Ave Value Store

Honorable mentions:

Charity’s Closet

Success in Style

Once Upon a Child

John, left, and Tom Shoemaker stand with a coffee table in their shop, Shoemaker Country. They make much of the furniture that they sell.
John, left, and Tom Shoemaker stand with a coffee table in their shop, Shoemaker Country. They make much of the furniture that they sell. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Furniture store: Shoemaker Country

8334 Main St., Ellicott City. 410-461-5552. shoemakercountry.net.

Tailor-made wood furniture is their forte. There’s little that Shoemaker Country can’t make for their clients, who treasure the craftsmanship of this family-owned shop. For 19 years, Tom and Susan Shoemaker (and their sons, Michael and John) have been turning out handmade tables, entertainment cabinets and kitchen islands made of walnut, cherry and maple, despite recurring floods that have forced them to twice move their store.

“There’s a need for custom-made furniture, and we seem to fill it,” Michael Shoemaker says. “When someone brought in a sentimental piece of wood from a fallen tree that their grandfather had planted, we sat down to brainstorm ideas and came up with something cool.” It became a wine rack.

“We have the flexibility to make a lot of one-offs,” says Shoemaker. “People are tired of buying mass-produced stuff. They want something more tailored to their needs.”

Honorable mentions:

Arhaus

Ashley HomeStore

Indoor Furniture

Jeweler: Everett Designers of Fine Jewelry

Honorable mentions:

St. John’s Jewelers

Sergio’s Fine Jewelers

HorseSpirit Arts Gallery

Pet supplies store: PetSmart

Honorable mentions:

Petco

My Pet Store and More

Clipper’s Canine Cafe

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