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November 7, 2006

Readers Choice - Meet the Winners

Cherry Bomb: Nathan Erickson owns Cherry Bomb, where they’ll tell you that “blood is the new black” and other useful bits of advice.Best Vintage Clothing StoreCHERRY BOMB960 Baxter Ave., 584-0755You’ve got to love a store that has micro-minis, polyester shirts and leg warmers among denim bags and T-shirts with tags that say, “Blood is the new black.” This mix of vintage and new is what gives the popular Cherry Bomb its edge. Watch out, baby boomers, this store is not for you — there’s a statement about vintage clothing that says, “If you wore it the first time, don’t wear it again.” Most of Cherry Bomb’s used clothing is from that amusing time known as the ’70s. Remember, bell-bottoms are back in style, even if they are calling them “flares.” —Jo Anne TriplettDoo Wop Shop: If you’re looking to put together a jam session of any sort, Doo-Wop Shop can help. Chad Castetter, Danny Massey, Rob Baker, Victor Himbaugh and Gabrielle Kats took it to the streets for this shot.Best Musical Instrument StoreDOO WOP SHOP1587 Bardstown Road, 456-5250 and 2915 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy., 491-4191I was probably 12 years old the first time I stepped foot in the Doo Wop Shop, beguiled by the vast selection of things I had no idea related to the guitar. I rented (yes, a big part of what has made and kept Doo Wop so sweet over the years is that you can rent equipment of just about any grade — low, medium, even some high) a black GTX copy of a Fender Stratocaster, literally the first electric guitar I ever held, and started learning Nirvana’s “Lithium.” It wasn’t long before those bastards started getting the lion’s share of my adolescent cash wad! Here’s to hoping Doo Wop will always be behind that iconic black-and-white logo on Bardstown and Bonnycastle. —Stephen GeorgeNanz & Kraft: Linda Perrone and Lois Roberts work on a standing wreath at Nanz & Kraft on Breckenridge Lane.Best FloristNANZ & KRAFTFour locationsIn a city our size, it’s a testament to any business that comes to singularly define a service. In Louisville, Nanz & Kraft Florists (est. 1850) are as ubiquitous as August humidity. These days it’s run by three brothers — Eddie (president), Michael and David Kraft (both VPs) — from the family’s sixth generation. N&K specializes in green and blooming plants, silks, home accessories and gift baskets, and customer service is always top of mind. Their refrigerated delivery trucks have two-way radios to ensure they find the right address quickly, and they make three delivery runs daily. It takes a lot to live up to a legacy, something the brothers fully understand. “Having worked in the business since we were 14 years old, our father persistently ingrained in us that the customer is always right,” David Kraft says. “Today, we continue to treat every customer as if they are our only and best customer. Without our great customers, we wouldn’t be here.” —Cary StemleBest Gift StoreRegalo: Laura Applegate is co-owner at Regalo (with her brother, J.D. Dotson, and Jon Freels). It’s like a treasure chest of unusual gifts.REGALO980 Barret Ave., 583-1798Some stores are like treasure chests, guaranteed to hold many items that you think are the perfect gifts for someone or, better yet, yourself. You can find exactly what you’re looking for at Regalo, even if you’re not actually looking for anything. How about “The Christmas Pickle” tree ornament, a German symbol for good luck? A “Mona Lisa” clock? Or the perfect congratulations card that lets you check off why you’re congratulating them — maturity, test results, cast removal, mediocrity, etc.? Regalo also has an excellent jewelry section. The martini glass necklace and earrings are perfect for LEO’s own Bar Belle and all other imbibers. Sports fans will be pleased to know there are also U of L and UK earrings. There really is something for everyone here, as long as you, or the person you are buying for, live large. —Jo Anne TriplettKaleidoscope: Kim Bell owns Kaleidoscope, where color is a big part of the scheme.Best Hair SalonKALEIDOSCOPE1436 Bardstown Road, 458-3937Kaleidoscope Hair Salon has been keeping the Highlands weird for 14 years now, and by weird I mean eccentric — definitely not in a bad way. The inside of the modest four-station salon looks like a box of Crayola exploded, and the explosion of colors often rubs off on its clientele. Owner Kim Bell prides her shop as being one of the first in town to offer professional coloring products (we’re talking purple, green, pink, etc., not blonde, brown or brunette). And nothing is out of the ordinary here — mohawks, dreds, extensions, Christmas trees (no lie!) and on and on. If you can imagine it, Kim and her co-workers Shan, Chris and Wendy can do it. “I don’t necessarily do the craziest hair,” Kim says, “but I like clients who are willing to be creative with their style.” —Sara HavensBest Liquor StoreOld Town: Sean Hopkins, Bryan Watts, Peter Townsend and manager Carmen Thornton are eager to help drive-through customers at Old Town.OLD TOWN WINE & SPIRITS1529 Bardstown Road, 451-8591Remember that movie where Queen Amidala got locked inside a Wal-Mart and ended up giving birth? Forget the birth part, wouldn’t it be even sweeter if you got locked inside Old Town overnight? I could do some serious damage to their inventory and my liver. Where else can you fill your basket with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, a 40-ounce Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a chilled liter of Jager and a Cohiba cigar? Old Town has been shilling spirits since 1955, and their array of product satisfies both wine connoisseurs and those who just look at the price and pretty pictures. —Sara HavensHighland Cycle: Eric and Brian Morris can handle any job at Highland Cycle.Best Bicycle ShopHIGHLAND CYCLE1737 Bardstown Road, 459-7832I am no bicycle specialist — maybe it was that initial bad experience on my first Huffy all those years ago. But my friends who do dig the two-wheelers praise this local institution for being completely unpretentious and down to earth (not that you’d ever get the snob treatment at a bike store). In other words, they’ll work on your Huffy without getting all huffy, and they’ll help you with your fancy gold-plated titanium cycle with built in GPS and flat screen HDTV. Sadly, the store’s gone through some tough times recently — founder Gil Morris, a significant figure in local cycling history, passed away, and his son, Ted, was tragically killed after he was hit by a car. Here’s hoping they pull together and keep on keeping on in the Highlands for many more years. Drop by and let ’em know you care. —Cary Stemle  Red Tree: Red is the operative word at Red Tree, which has two locations — downtown and Middletown.Best Furniture Store/Home Accessories StoreRED TREE701 E. Market St., 582-2555; and 11508 Shelbyville Road, Middletown, 244-2338Red lights, red flags, red door, Red Tree. This extremely popular First Friday Gallery Hop location knows how to draw them in, with the great scents of China Rose and Tangelo dried berries wafting throughout, to the large assortment of intriguing knickknacks placed on every available horizontal surface as well as hanging from the ceiling. Don’t let the claustrophobic interior overwhelm you. It’s the heavy mahogany wood furniture from Indonesia at great prices that is Red Tree’s calling card. The simple shapes of the large pieces would fit into a variety of décor. Some of the furniture is painted in antique white as well as red, which is just what you would expect to find in a store called Red Tree. —Jo Anne TriplettSapporo: Louisville is blessed with many fine sushi bars, but Sapporo gets the nod from our readers.Best Sushi Bar & Best Japanese RestaurantSAPPORO JAPANESE GRILL & SUSHI1706 Bardstown Road, 479-5550Planted right in the heart of Bardstown Road, this splendid sushi restaurant and Japanese steakhouse features an upscale atmosphere, a creative menu and, best of all, quality sushi. While there are many fine sushi bars in town, Sapporo may be the one most people flock to (and voted for) simply because it never disappoints. Prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is fun and there are always great sushi specials. (Plus, they often have toro, the fatty part of the tuna that melts in your mouth — it is to tuna what filet mignon is to steak. Mmmm.) It also helps that there are many rolls available that can help ease rookies into sushi, as well as delicacies for the more experienced sushi-lovers — from suzuki (raw quail egg) to tako (octopus). And the lobster roll is a must-try. Wash it down with a tall Asahi Super Dry for best effect. —Kevin GibsonStevens & Stevens: Pam Phelps and grandson John Murray have a look at the deli counter at Stevens & Stevens.Best DeliSTEVENS & STEVENS DELICATESSEN1114 Bardstown Road, 584-3354Stevens & Stevens is tucked into the side of Ditto’s restaurant at the corner of Bardstown Road and Grinstead, but it is a separate entity — one that makes some of the best deli food in town (THE best, according to our readers). Don’t confuse Stevens & Stevens with Subway — this is a place where one can get a New York-style pastrami or corned beef sandwich with hot mustard and have it made fresh while you wait, piled high with meat on fresh bread or a bagel. But Stevens & Stevens also serves up some cool specialty sandwiches and dishes with fun names like the Play It Again Sam, Fanny’s Foie Gras and the Isabella Tortellini salad, plus homestyle meats and sides. And while it is primarily carry-out, there are even a few booths for eating in. —Kevin GibsonBW3: It’s not easy to make a good wing, but B-Dub does, specializing in flavor.Best WingsBUFFALO WILD WINGSvarious locationsWhat better way to spend a Sunday than sitting around with friends drinking tall, cold beers and eating fried chicken flesh slathered in throat-eroding sauce? That’s no doubt why Buffalo Wild Wings pulled in the most votes for Best Wings. OK, actually, it’s probably the variety of sauces on the menu of this fast-growing national chain. Hey, making a good wing isn’t easy — it’s more than just hot sauce and butter, or at least it should be, and at B-Dubs, it’s about the flavor more than the heat. You can settle for sissy sauce like Sweet Barbecue (mild, but oh so tasty), go for the Blazin’ (a tongue-scorcher from the first bite), find your middle ground with the delicious Spicy Garlic or Jamaican Jerk, or go nuts with specialties like Mango Habanero. —Kevin GibsonCumberland Brews: Cumberland Brews has built a formidable fan base in its six years.Best Happy Hour & Best Beer ListCUMBERLAND BREWS 1576 Bardstown Road, 458-8727Cumberland Brews is a shrine where local beer snobs worship. This popular brew-pub, nestled among the many shops, record stores and restaurants that dot Bardstown Road in the heart of the Highlands, has been perfecting its craft for more than six years — garnering an impressive clientele of regulars and fans alike. There’s nothing too fancy about the small, dimly-lit joint, except for its five or six offerings of delicious locally-brewed beer and an impressive menu featuring bison chili, wings and cheese fries topped with spinach queso, to name a few. Happy Hour is 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and — get this! — all day Sunday, where the standard $4.25 pints drop down to $2.75. Drink up. —Sara Havens3rd St. Dive: Third Street Dive is as local as it gets. Just ask Rob Casey, Nichole Dorion, Dave Blackburn, Joe Rooney or Thomas Deal.Best New Bar & Best Dive BarTHIRD STREET DIVE440 S. Third St., 587-0706This locally owned establishment opened around Derbytime to much acclaim — its name is basically a parody of the cluster of chain bars and restaurants located in the nearby Fourth Street Live. They kept their prices low and their look simple. While they attract people of all types — from yuppies to bikers — they seem to be coming into their own as another viable music venue in town, often offering live music at no charge. On a recent visit, I was disappointed that the price of a domestic bottle had risen a quarter (now $2.25), but it’s still hipper and cheaper than any of its uptight neighbors. —Sara HavensCoyote's: Sixteen years of boot-scootin’: Coyote’s wrote the book in Louisville.Best Country Western BarCOYOTE’S 133 W. Liberty St., 589-3866    Can you believe Coyote’s has been boot-scootin’ for 16 years now? That’s longer than I’ve been drinking … and way longer than country music has been classified as “cool.” Everyone knows this is the spot in town to get your fix of leather chaps and cowboy hats — in fact, this was the first bar I ever stepped foot in eight years ago when I crossed the Ohio and settled in. Needless to say, I thought I was about to reside in the deep South. Coyote’s has some of the best concerts in town — where else can you boast to seeing Terri Clark and Sir Mix-A-Lot in the same year? We have to mention the mechanical bull — it may sound like a good idea at the time, but you’ll always regret it the next morning, trust me. Hmmm … that reminds me of something else Coyote’s is good for. —Sara HavensCode Red: Photo by Eddie Dant Code Red has earned acclaim for its cogent and relevant raps.Best Local Hip Hop ArtistCODE REDwww.coderedmusic.netOne of a crop of Louisville hip hop acts currently being snatched up by the biggest record label in the history of the world, Universal, Code Red delivers some of the most cogent and relevant raps we’ve heard lately, not to mention the fantastically creative music happening underneath them. The Readers evidently agree. The group’s album All Aboard is some of the freshest stuff happening this side of the Mississippi — in hip hop, funk, rap and otherwise. —Stephen GeorgeDead City Rejects: Dead City Rejects understand what makes punk music relevant.Best Local Punk BandDEAD CITY REJECTSwww.deadcityrejects.comThe Dead City Rejects are one of the hardest working bands in Louisville — punk or otherwise. These three guys write songs like Derby horses run races, purveyors of the same kind of efficiency that’s made punk music worth listening to all these years: meaningful commentary blasted like a shotgun atop buzzsaw riffs at wild, interminable speed. Classic punk rock. And they play tons of shows around here — just keep your eyes peeled and your mohawk gelled. —Stephen GeorgeScott Reynolds: Photo courtesy of WAVE-TV Best Local TV Reporter.Best Local TV ReporterSCOTT REYNOLDSWAVE-TVTrue story: Some 10 years ago, I went to a computer training seminar. On the instructional video was a familiar face. It was none other than Scott Reynolds, who’d just started working at WAVE-TV. Turns out he’d been moonlighting while working at a Minneapolis TV station. He confided with a laugh that people still mention those videos. Reynolds joined WAVE in 1996, and he gets props for digging into the real issues of the day. His work hosting WAVE’s “Hot Button,” and his recent turn moderating a debate between 3rd District Congressional candidates Anne Northup and John Yarmuth, show him to be fully informed and engaged, hardly the empty suit that seems to signify so many TV talking heads. “You don’t accomplish anything without a great staff, and we have a lot of great people here,” Reynolds said. “We have a philosophy of being yourself and having fun. I think the fact that we can poke fun at ourselves and each other helps explain why viewers like us.” —Cary StemleFred Cowgill: Photo courtesy of WLKY-TV Best Local Sports AnchorBest Local Sports AnchorFRED COWGILLWLKY-TVBased on our research, Fred Cowgill, who’s been at WLKY for 20 years now, has won this category nine straight years — every year LEO’s had Readers’ Choice. That must be because he oozes something people appreciate. He seems like a nice guy, but it’s more. He seems like a guy who is comfortable in his own skin and loves what he does. “I try to work as hard as I can, have fun, maximize my positives, minimize my negatives, stay humble and try to treat people with an enormous amount of respect,” Cowgill said when asked why he thinks he is well-liked. “I love what I do more now than I ever have. Most importantly, I’m home. While I was born in upstate New York, I tell people I was a misplaced Louisvillian at birth. It took me 28 years to find my way home. I love the people here, the nicest around. My wife is from here and our four children were born here. I feel enormously blessed.” —Cary Stemle Vicki Dortch: Photo courtesy of WLKY-TVDawne Gee: Photo courtesy of WAVE-TVBest News Hair (tie)VICKI DORTCH (WLKY-TV)        AND DAWNE GEE (WAVE-TV)Our money was on Mark Hebert here, but LEO readers clearly have better taste than we do, and these two mainstays of the local airwaves finished in a dead heat. We didn’t have the heart to break the tie, and so this year they share bragging rights.Gee said she turns the whole matter over to her stylist, Tee — aka Teresa Hourigan of Jamaican Me Beautiful. Ms. Gee likes it short, partly because lupus occasionally causes her some hair loss. Dortch, who started working at WLKY in 1988, seemed bemused when told she’d won, and even more when asked about her hair philosophy. “I don’t know,” she said, laughing. “It’s just hair.” Her stylist, Amber Young at Jerry Heston Salon, calls the Dortch ’do an A-line Bob. The anchor woman confides: “I have always wished for long thick hair. Instead, mine is fine, and this is a cut that works well for me.” —Cary StemleStevie Lee: Oil Field Trash? Take us to that oil field, please. Stevie Lee rocks out from 6 p.m.-midnight on 107.7-FM.Best Local Radio DeeJaySTEVIE LEE WSFR-FMStevie Lee’s got stories to tell. For starters, her dad was once worked for Halliburton and she grew up in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, to name a few. She calls herself “Oil Field Trash” and is quite proud of her worldly upbringing — she even pulled out an old yearbook to show me a picture of her teacher holding an AK-47. She’s been in Louisville for three years now, rocking out the 6 p.m.-midnight shift at 107.7 WSFR-FM. Her laid-back but confident, badass-chick vibe comes through loud and clear — perhaps it’s from doing time in radio for 18 years, but I think it’s because she’s just that cool. If you bump into her when you’re out (her local favorites include XS, Hookah Juice and Turley Richards), ask her about her torrid years in the thick of Big-Hair ’80s. —Sara HavensStephen George: Stephen George took time from his Halloween hijinks to pose for a shot. Tell us, Mr. George, who was in those energy meetings?Best Local WriterSTEPHEN GEORGELEOThe C-J’s Bob Hill has dominated this category over the years, rightly so. This year, though, his stranglehold was loosened by one of our own. Lest you suspect a ballot-stuffing conspiracy, all we can say is that LEO readers realize what’s been obvious to us for a while now: This kid can write (think what he could do with real editors!). Once he outgrows his Hunter S. Thompson/Matt Taibbi fixation, look out. That is, if we don’t work him to death before that. And don’t let the Dick “Dick” Cheney mask fool you — he loves the veep. Mr. George is just a bit enamored with the sound of his own breathing. —Cary StemleGated Community: Can you score in a gated community? No comment.Best Place to Hide a Meth LabGATED COMMUNITYSo there’s this program on Showtime, “Weeds,” which follows a super-suburban, like McSuburban, widowed housewife through the trials and tribulations of dealing pot to a bunch of super-rich self-healers whose attempts to buy a new reality have failed and who have instead turned to drugs — albeit drugs far less harmful than anything a bar might sell, but anyway, they like the pot, and this woman, the dealer, has kids who kinda know she deals pot, and everybody is OK with this arrangement, which offers as the moral of the show this: The safest place in America to buy, sell and use drugs is the Hummer of Great American Suburbs, the gated community. —Stephen GeorgeFletch Fletcher: Illustration by Clifford HiltonBest Nickname for Gov. Ernie Fletcher“CHEVY CHASE”There were several ties in this category (read: no answer got more than one vote), so the LEO Brain Trust had to reach in and pick a winner. Someone was really thinking on this one — who even recalls that 1985 film, “Fletch,” which starred Chevy Chase before he went the way of Rush Limbaugh? One great scene from the flick involves when some bad guy throws Chevy against a wall. He looks over at a photo that shows said bad guy cheesing it up with L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda. “I hate Tommy LaSorda,” he says, and smashes the glass in the frame. Substitute Greg Stumbo for Tommy LaSorda and the whole scenario still kinda works. (To watch a clip, Google “I hate Tommy LaSorda” and follow the link to YouTube.) —Cary StemleHunter Thompson: Illustration by scott schroering Does Louisville have what it takes to honor this native son?Person Most Deserving of the Next Big Banner with His/Her Photo (a la Ali, Sawyer et al)HUNTER S. THOMPSONMemo from the Sports Desk: It’s time, by decree of the voters in this year’s Readers Choice awards, for Louisville Pride — the nonprofit agency responsible — to create a mural banner, to hang on a building somewhere in the city, of native son Hunter S. Thompson. A giant in the literary world who’s never been offered due credit by his hometown, Thompson created an entire literary genre — Gonzo Journalism — and has never been paralleled in his political and social commentary. We all say we want Louisville to be a “smart” city — we can help advance that by formally and publicly embracing this intellectual warrior. —Stephen GeorgeThe Great Lawn is, well, great.Best Place to Watch Thunder Over LouisvilleTHE GREAT LAWNDown by the RiverSome of us do recall when the area now comprising Waterfront Park was full of junky scrap metal. It had the look of some intransigent mess that was never going anywhere. Lo and behold, we’ve all been enjoying Waterfront Park for some years now, and there’s something epic about The Great Lawn that just seems perfect. And it’s obviously a fabulous place to watch the big fireworks show, both because of proximity and because it accommodates scads of people. The clean-up crews must surely appreciate its open nature as well; it’s gotta be easier than cleaning a venue with seats. —Cary Stemle