Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast Announces Awards
By Susie Davidson
Former Chamber Board member and volunteer extraordinaire Chet Block greeted incoming breakfasters at the June 12 event, aided by the vociferous, ever-ebullient Bay State Savings Charitable Foundation Program Director Ken Jaffe.
As tables filled with people carrying the Holiday Inn’s sumptuous offerings of individually made omelettes, fresh fruit, bagels, muffins and pastries, juices and of course, at 7:30 a.m., coffee galore, Chamber President Elias Audy, Selectman Gil Hoy and Chamber Board Member Ed Rosen sat at the main table. Audy acknowledged his co-host Hoy, fellow Rotarian Rosen, School Committee member Nancy Erdmann, Town Building Commissioner Jim Nickerson, Brookline Police Captain Peter Scott, Commercial Areas Coordinator for the Economic Development Office Marge Amster, Library Trustee Len Bernstein, Past Chamber Presidents Steve Goldenberg and Mike Merrill and the newest Chamber Member, Heather Shafer of the Boston Women’s Journal and, yes, the Tab correspondent. He reminded all to be sure to partake in this Sunday’s Flag Day Parade Celebration, the booklets for which were included in the morning’s handouts.
Hoy thanked the Chamber for co-hosting the event with the town’s Comnmercial Areas Committee, and welcomed new Chamber Executive Director Polly Cornblath.
“The Third Annual Business Best Awards,” said Audy, “honor some truly remarkable businesses in Brookline.” He reminded attendees that the Commercial Areas Committee meets every third Thursday of the month in Town Hall, urging town merchants to attend and voice their comments, wishes or complaints. “The large number of new names in these award winners,” he said, “is reflective of how strong our business community is. We are honoring 10 today, but we have many other very worthy establishments in this town.” Audy, of Audy’s Mobil Service Station, and Chobee Hoy, of Chobee Hoy Associates Real Estate, had graciously withdrawn their businesses from consideration in order to allow more breadth for newer businesses and those who had not previously won.
The award winners were chosen by plurality vote of the Chamber members, Audy explained, and he thus told the crowd that “you essentially chose them.” He then handed the podium to Selectman Gil Hoy for the announcements and conferring of the handsome wood and brass plaques.
And the winners were:
“Best Exterior Landscape” went to Antiquers III at 171 Harvard St. A first-time winner, they carry a general line of collectibles and antiques. Co-owners Mark Feldman, who is a former publisher, and Corey Warn formerly of Brookline Trust Company, have helped to develop this store, begun in 1974, into one of the most notable art deco and modernism galleries in the country.
“Best Interior Design” was won by Pod at 313 Washington St. Julie Baine accepted for her store, which she called a “lifestyle store specializing in gifts, home accessories and personal care items.” She began at 6 Davis Ave. in 1978. “It’s a store that sells stuff,” she said, “but also a state of mind, an idea or emotion.”
“Best Storefront Window” went to Party Favors at 1356 Beacon St. “Anyone who is having a party knows to go to this store,” said Hoy, lauding their “baker extraordinaire.”
“Best Customer Service Retail” – Trader Joe’s #501 at 1309 Beacon St. got this one. “Believe it or not, a supermarket,” said Hoy. “But nothing like this supermarket exists,” he said. “The company built its reputation on all-natural, chemical-free frozen and packaged items. It’s as much an entertainment experience as a culinary one.”
TJ’s “First Mate” Teinya Thompson related a tale of a customer’s getting her tire fixed by the help. “They probably stuck a salami into it,” joked Jaffe.
“Best Customer Service Restaurant Award” went to Japanese restaurant Fugakyu at 1280 Beacon St. “He’s the brains behind the operation,” General Manager Jack Huang modestly stated, pointing to President Edward Leung.
The “Best Customer Service Professional” award was won by Goldenberg, Walters, Lipson, Pollak and Popkewitz of 7 Harvard St. “They have appeared many times before the Board of Selectmen,” said Hoy. “They’ve always been polite and steadfast, and they always get their way.” Roger Lipson and Steve Goldenberg accepted the award for the Brookline law firm.
“Best Web Site” - Grand Opening! at 318 Harvard St. took this award. The nationally recognized store, which has been mentioned on Oprah and will be featured in an upcoming HBO special, is owned by Kim Airs, who held court for a (not surprisingly) hysterical interlude. “We have a web site that dares to be a little different,” she said, adding “though on the internet, it’s really not .” Airs started the store in 1993, and the interactive ordering in November, 1995. “We are a sexuality boutique,” she explained, “for all those who might be blushing out there.” (“Not me!” said the front table lineup in unison, as they tried to keep her comments at bay.) “Originally,” she chided them, “most of our customers were male.”
“Best New Business” was Paper Source. Manager Sharon Hebenstreit accepted the award for this new recipient. A premiere fine paper store, it opened six months ago at 1361 Beacon St. and offers fine paper, photo albums, gift wrap, ribbons, cards, how-to books and other odds and ends.
“Best Longstanding Business” – Brookline Booksmith took this award. Dana Brigham accepted for the store, which two years ago received Publisher’s Weekly’s distinction of Best Bookstore in the entire country.
“It’s a stalwart business,” said Hoy, calling it a role model for the community.
“After this year I’ll follow Chobee and Elias and take the store out of the running,” Brigham said, “but I had to do it just one more time….Resilience,” she continued, “is very much a part of what the Booksmith is - in good and bad times.” She noted Marshall Smith, “the founder of Booksmith and other things Smith,” and thanked the store’s 40 staff people. She added that they had seven marriages and two babies to their credit, from people who had met at the store. “They went directly from Grand Opening! to the bookstore,” quipped Hoy.
“Best Civic Neighbor” was Bay State Federal Savings and Loan. “One of the finest banks in Brookline,” said Hoy, “they are always there for the town.” He reminded attendees that Bay State had contributed $500,000 to make the Senior Center a reality, and at the Evening of Peace in the Cypress Street Field following Sept. 11, Bay State matched contributions to the relief effort of up to $140,000. Senior Vice President of Retail Banking Tony Caruso accepted for the bank, citing his thanks to Chairman and C.E.O. Jack Murphy and President and C.O.O. Denise Renaghan.
He went through the ranks, acknowledging the Lending Team of Phil McNulty, David Tait, William Treddin and Coleman Carden, the Marketing Team of Gail Snow and Beth Walker, Fellow Board Member of the Bay State Charitable Foundation Phyllis Penta, Retail Branch Manager Donna Warner, Branch Manger Tatiana Bardash, Investment Specialist Harry Robinson and at the table, Charitable Foundation Program Director Ken Jaffe.
Finally, the raffle winners were announced. Gail Snow from Bay State distributed prizes to the winners. Raymond Abdelle of Audy’s Service Station won a gift basket worth $100; Airs won Bay State’s “Pot of Gold,” announcing that since she was a customer, she was going to deposit it right away. “That’s cash; it’ll never be deposited,” said Jaffe.
Attorney Bill Landau won a free membership to the Wellbridge Club, which was donated by Membership Representative and attendee Betsy Grant.
It was truly a civic celebration. “As a School Committee Member,” said Erdmann, “I make it a priority to be in touch with all sectors of the community. Brookline businesses have just been great.”