Feathers, dice and faux card dealers greeted hundreds of Amarillo residents on Oct. 18 for the 11th Amarillo Globe News Best of Amarillo party, the finale to an AGN reader’s choice annual contest that gives the community an opportunity to nominate and vote for their favorite local businesses. More than 70 vendors dressed up and glitzed out the Civic Center Heritage Ballroom with poker chips, slot machines, samples of food, giveaways and live music, transforming the space into a miniature Las Vegas in accordance with the night’s theme.
“This is one of [AGN’s] most fun events,” AGN Special Event Coordinator Susie Self said. “People really like it. Every vendor who’s in there is a winner, so they’re happy to be here. Its’ a good opportunity for them to thank all of their loyal customers who voted for them.”
According to Self, the planning process for Best of Amarillo began in July with construction of the voting ballot, followed by hours of tallying the over 8,000 votes and determining winners, who Self said are all encouraged by AGN sales representatives to participate in the festivities.
“For the vendors, it’s great recognition,” Self said. “For people who come out, $15 gets them everything they want to eat, they get to listen to great music, win giveaways, it’s just a really affordable, fun thing for them. Plus, it’s their favorite restaurants, their favorite music, it’s truly the best of Amarillo.”
For business owners and employees such as Mevanee Dixon, Business Manager of Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr. Elaine Cook who won best dermatologist for the first year, gratitude was abundant and evident in both energy and elaborate booth decorations.
“It’s very exciting [winning] because people have a choice,” Dixon said. “There are several other dermatologists in town, it’s just an honor that people nominated [Dr. Cook’s practice] and then voted her best.”
Veteran Best of Amarillo business owner, president of Pack-a-Sak Terry McKee, whose business has claimed Best Convenience Store eight years running, says he accredits their continued success with their “excellent employees, clean stores, and great customer service.”
“From the top down, you treat people the way you would want to be treated,” McKee said. “It’s an easy model that we have, go above and beyond to treat everyone good.”
Joining the ranks of long-time winners and fully exemplifying the Las Vegas theme with a four layer, fondant sculpted, poker chip and dice adorned cake, Belmar Bakery has swept Best Bakery for the eleventh year in a row, according to Head
Cake Decorator Ali Willbur responsible for the table decoration, who says Belmar Bakery “bakes with love.”
“[Belmar Bakery] definitely has the heart of the town,” Willbur said. “We’ve been here forever, we’re a staple. We consistently put out great product and do a lot of it with love.”
Wilbur said this was her first year to personally attend the Best Of party, because she is usually working at the bakery, but said she fully enjoyed the event.
“It’s really cool getting to see all the different businesses and companies out here,” Willbur said. “Serving at the booth and mingling with everybody, hearing their experiences at Belmar, has been an awesome experience.”
It’s an experience Willbur says the bakery hopes and looks forward to for next year.
“We’re absolutely going to try and win again next year,” Willbur said. “But we try to put out the best product and have best customer service year round, so everybody will love us no matter what, competition or no competition.”