Cape ‘Best of’ winners recognized at luncheon
Nearly 130 businesses were recognized Thursday as “The Best of Cape Coral 2013” in a readers’ poll.
Hosted by the Cape Coral Breeze, the annual contest gives the public the chance to cast a ballot for their favorite retail, service, and restaurant and entertainment entities in the Cape in several categories. The winners were honored this year at an awards luncheon at the Cape Coral Italian American Club.
“As strong supporters of the local business community, it gives us great pleasure to sponsor the ‘Best of Cape Coral’ recognitions each year,” Breeze Publisher Scott Blonde said. “Not only does it allow us the opportunity to invite the public to recognize those businesses that are very good at what they do, it gives us an opportunity to say thank you to both longtime and new establishments that have earned a reputation for excellence.”
“We thank the community for its input, and we congratulate those who have culled this year’s ‘Best of’ awards,” he said. “Cape Coral is well served by the businesses that call it home.”
About 160 people attended the ceremony, with 128 awards handed out.
“The amount of ballots that we received this year was the most we have received in the past several years,” Jim Konig, the Breeze advertising director, said.
He estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 ballots were submitted, compared to 2,200 in 2012.
Among retail entities, It’s All Good! Consignment Boutique won for “Consignment.”
Owner Elsie Garcia-Kokal said it is the first time that the store has taken home a “Best of” award.
“I felt really proud and excited,” she said. “We have a lot of really great customers.”
Garcia-Kokal cited her selection of items as one possible reason for the win. It’s All Good! Consignment Boutique features high-end and designer clothing, as well as surprising finds like home dcor and furniture. The store offers a mix of styles, from modern and vintage, to antiques.
“It kind of helps us cover all the customers’ desires, so to speak,” she said.
Garcia-Kokal’s best possible guess, however, for the success – customer treatment.
“I think the major thing is, of course, our customer service,” she said.
“Our customers were really thrilled that they could vote for us,” Garcia-Kokal said. “It was amazing how many customers said they were actually going to look in the paper for the ballot.”
“It was really exciting to see them rooting for us,” she added.
Asked if she thought she would win, Garcia-Kokal pointed out all of the consignment stores.
“There’s quite a few in Cape Coral for people to choose from,” she said.
Ken’s Auto Repair, owned by Ken Schuman, received its first “Best of” award in 2012. This year, it held onto the top spot, again the best “Auto Service and Repair Shop” among service businesses.
“We’re just so happy,” he said. “We like being a part of the community.”
Schuman thanked all of his customers who voted.
“I’m glad that we’re well thought of by our customers,” he said. “They’re the fun part of our business, and we would be nothing without them.”
Ken’s Auto Repair is celebrating 41 years in business.
“We keep trying harder,” he said, when asked why his shop held onto the “Best of” title.
“We try not to sell the customers anything they don’t need,” Schuman said.
The shop also alerts customers to any possible future problems that are a safety concern.
“We make the extra effort to make them aware of and take care of the problem before it’s a safety issues,” he said.
Ken’s Auto Repair offers free shuttle service and customers are known on a first name basis.
“We can’t survive with customers coming only once,” he said. “We try to treat them right when they come in the first time, and it seems to be working.”
Schuman compared the “Best of” award to a review from his customers.
“We don’t get a report card, so it’s kind of our pat on the back that we’re doing things right,” he said. “We feel honored to win it.”
From among all of the restaurants and entertainment entities in the Cape for people to vote on, the Italian American Club was honored to accept its first “Best of Cape Coral” award for “Social Club.”
President Cathy Raso Sangiovanni explained that the organization was started 46 years ago by her parents and another couple. In November, she took office with the goal of breathing new life into it.
“For me, it’s an unbelievable honor and privilege,” Sangiovanni said of the win.
When she and her husband, the club’s second vice president, took over, their idea was a rebirth.
“Our goal has been to have the best food, the best entertainment and to be the best social club,” she said. “I think we’re well on our way to that.”
Over the last few months, the club has acquired an executive chef, expanded its entertainment scheduled and activities, and fostered interest in the community for renting out the venue.
Building membership has also been a priority.
“We’re trying to get the next generation to start participating,” Sangiovanni said.
She thanked The Breeze for helping to get the word out about the changes.
“We’re been running ads in The Breeze,” Sangiovanni said. “The Breeze has been a big help to us. They’re been helping us market our business.”
The Cape Coral Italian American Club is at 4725 Vincennes Blvd.
For more information, call (239) 542-6515.
Ken’s Auto Repair is at 4533 Del Prado Blvd. S.
For more information, call (239) 542-0008.
It’s All Good! Consignment Boutique is at 4635 Coronado Parkway.
For more information, call (239) 839-8632.