photo by: Derek Redd
WHEELING — The best of the best of the businesses that keep the Ohio Valley running were recognized on Wednesday night by a vote of local newspaper readers.
Making up the Best of the Ohio Valley, businesses in over 150 different categories, from best restaurant to barber shop, were awarded for their service to the area during the event sponsored by The Intelligencer, Wheeling News-Register and Times Leader newspapers and held at Wheeling Park’s White Palace.
“We come together here to thank and honor all of you for employing our friends and neighbors and family members and really making this Ohio Valley a special place to live and raise a family,” said Intelligencer Editor John McCabe in his opening remarks. “Those of us who grew up in family businesses understand the sacrifices you make every day, the long hours, the tasks that you have to do to meet your payroll and to keep people happy.”
Describing those awarded as “the heart and soul of the community,” McCabe was glad to have the opportunity to honor the small businesses that “remain the engine of our economy.”
Finalists were narrowed down from 4,190 businesses nominated by over 1,300 readers. In the first round of voting, 103,000 votes were cast to determine finalists and winners.
With over 200,000 votes tabulated by the end of the competition, local businesses who go above and beyond for the community felt their service pay off in the resounding support they received from customers.
One such business was Abbey’s Restaurant and Lounge, which received the best overall restaurant and best service, along with being a finalist in the seafood category. Three generations of Abbey’s owners were present to receive their awards, with owner Joey Maroon emphasizing that running a local business is a family effort.
“When I talk about family, I mean not only my family but our staff, too,” said Maroon. “Our staff is family, and we couldn’t do anything without them.”
On the sweeter side of dining in the area, Fat Apple Bakery was voted as the best bakery, best desserts and was a finalist in best pie and family entertainment. Being especially surprised by the entertainment recognition, owner Don Rhodes was glad to keep being called back to the stage.
Best barber shop and best hair salon winner Cloud 9 Salon and Spa brought attention to the “family effort” taken to receive the award, as their entire team of stylists was present at the event to receive the accolades.
“We wanted to bring us all together to celebrate this victory,” explained owner Bridgette Hardy. “We train together and go to events together, so this is just one of the things we wanted to celebrate as a team.”
Hardy added that each team member does an important job on the customer service side of the business by “really listening to and getting to know clients.”
Winner of best dental practice in the Ohio Valley Dr. Ricardo Zambito of Zambito Family Dentistry explained being chosen by patients of the Ohio Valley for an award was a “humbling experience.”
“We’re just so proud to be able to represent who we are and what we’re doing with a staff that is just phenomenal,” said Zambito.
After getting the crowd moving before the awards, Twice as Nice collected the plaque for best band. Band member Jody Cunningham explained they have “accumulated a lot of fans over their 24 years,” so the trio was thrilled to see their decades of work pay off
“We’ve been at this for a long time and are getting older, so we want to give a shout out to the senior citizens,” joked Cunningham. “They pushed us to the top, so we’re really pleased.”
photo by: Derek Redd
A business that took home major hardware in the Health and Medical category was WVU Medicine, receiving recognition for its Wheeling Hospital and Reynolds Memorial Hospital locations.
WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital was determined to be the best hospital in the area. WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital received recognition as the best for audiology practice, home health and sports medicine.
With the Howard Long Wellness Center also receiving the award for best fitness center, Associate Vice President of Foundation and Community Relations Jessica Rine appreciated they were recognized for their work in and outside the hospitals.
“WVU Medicine is really proud to have two great hospitals in this community,” said Rine “We love all the support from members of the community who have had good experiences at the hospitals and beyond, like the Howard Long Wellness Center.”
At the night’s end, Ogden Newspapers special events coordinator Joe Lovell reflected on the event, noting, “These awards show you as a business owner how much your customers appreciate you, and that’s what it all comes down to.”
“It’s called a Reader’s Choice for that reason,” added Lovell. “Whoever people think does a good job with their business, that’s what it’s all about.”