About Local Favorites

“It is an awesome honor,” said the owner of SOLID Fitness. “I really haven’t been here all that long. This is my fourth full year training, but I’ve only been open since October so this is an awesome honor.”

Record number of votes tallied this year to reveal the winners of About magazine’s annual Local Favorites contest

BEST PERSONAL TRAINER: LARRY KINNARD JR./SOLID FITNESS

3508 Tuscarawas St.W, Canton
330-356-0682

Certified fitness trainer, Larry Kinnard Jr., has been chosen this year’s Best Personal Trainer.

“It is an awesome honor,” said the owner of SOLID Fitness. “I really haven’t been here all that long. This is my fourth full year training, but I’ve only been open since October so this is an awesome honor.”

Kinnard works out of a 1,260-square-foot studio, serving all ages, sizes, motivation and fitness levels. Services include one-on-one personal training, small- group training, boot-camp classes, corporate wellness programs and sport-specific training. An Alliance native, Kinnard said he opened his business in Stark County because Stark County is home.

Many of his clients want to lose weight and inches in this spot or another.The one point he makes with them is that people cannot spot reduce. Exercise cannot do it alone.

“Exercise is Robin and nutrition is Batman.You won’t see results doing one without the other.”

He adds it is important to keep moving.

“Do whatever you have to do to prevent from being sedentary. Keep active, keep moving, whatever it may be.”

BEST TAKEOUT: APPLETREE PREPARED CUISINE

David and Rebecca Abou-Zakhim, owners
2108 Fremont Place SW, Canton
330-454-9920

Family owned, family operated makes AppleTree Prepared Cuisine a favorite among Stark Countians.

“I am thrilled,” said David Abou-Zakhim, co-owner with his wife, Rebecca. “We have become known for our customer service. I think that is why we were chosen. We keep the human touch intact.”

The business just started its retail carryout service a little more than two years ago, he said, noting the mostly Mediterranean restaurant is known “for our humus and our pita bread. All of our sandwiches are wraps. We get authentic pita bread fresh from Cleveland.”

In addition to its takeout trade, AppleTree caters everything from boxed lunches to graduation celebrations, Abou-Zakhim said.

BEST DOWNTOWN HOT SPOT: PICCIANO’S MARTINI BAR

Duke and Dina Tozzi, owners
410 Market Ave. N, Canton
330-454-3800

No signs, no advertising, major success. Go figure. This year’s Best Downtown Hot Spot goes to Picciano’s Martini Bar, owned by Duke and Dina Tozzi. Located on the first floor of the Stark Community Foundation Building, the bar seems to be the place to see — and be seen — in downtown Canton on any given night of the week.

“It is a lovely compliment that people come in and think about us this way,” Dina said. “All of our business is word of mouth.”

An experienced bartender, Dina has developed an extensive drink list for Picciano’s, featuring fresh fruit and vegetables as well as exotic garnishes.

Because the space is only 1,300 square feet, couch pods are set up among the tables to provide maximum seating. Known to many as the downtown bar without a sign, Picciano’s opened in the space three years ago.

Dina said once you come into the cozy bar, “you become family.”

BEST SUSHI: JASMINE ASIAN BISTRO

Henry and Yen Lay Lim, owners
1122 30th St.NW, Canton
330-493-3331

When Jasmine opened its doors nearly two years ago, it didn’t take long for word to spread about the great food and atmosphere there. That good word turned into votes in our Local Favorite contest, as the restaurant took the top prize for Best Sushi in Stark County.

“It feels good. Very good,” said owner Henry Lim after learning his sushi was deemed the winner. A candidate for the top 100 Asian restaurants in the nation, Lim said his modest-size eatery serves an upscale menu of pan-Asian foods, including a variety of Asian cuisine such as sushi,Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and other regions.

“All of the sushi is good, but the Unbelievable roll is the all-time favorite of our customers,” he said.

The food is described as upscale Asian fusion, with dramatic and eye-catching presentation.

BEST WINE MERCHANT: AVENUE WINE SHOP

Tony and Theresa Antoniades, owners
1728 Cleveland Ave.NW, Canton
330-454-8108

Tony and Theresa Antoniades aspire they make their customers at Avenue Wine Shop feel comfortable when they shop there. They’ve worked hard to achieve that, Theresa said, and hope their customers have noticed.

The shop was chosen as the Best Wine Merchant among About readers, so someone is taking notice.

“Oh my gosh, this is very good news,” said Theresa.“We are very service-oriented and we try to make people feel at home when they are here.”

Small in size, the store has more than 700 wines to choose from and more than 300 craft beers. It also sells a selection of premium cigars.

“We are known as the biggest little wine shop in Canton,” said Theresa.

BEST CATERER: JOE PILEGGI

Joe Pileggi’s Food and Catering
4815 Tuscarawas St.W, Perry Township
330-478-4300

Whether the occasion is a wedding, shower, reunion, or other special event, Stark County residents know they have somewhere to go — Joe Pileggi’s Food and Catering in Perry Township.

Chosen as Best Caterer, Pileggi said it is an honor.

“I’ve spent so much time and effort into perfecting my business. I am ecstatic about this honor,” he said.

Pileggi is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and has been in the industry for more than 30 years. His career extends from Ohio to New York City, to Palm Beach, Fla.

He said he caters at least 200-300 events a year and noted that every job is different.

“The versatility is wonderful,” said Pileggi. “I started (in the food business) when I was 9, helping my grandparents in their grocery stores. I grew up around food; it is a part of me. I really appreciate this honor.”

BUILDING WITH BEST DESIGN/ARCHITECTURE: SOL HARRIS/DAY ARCHITECTURE

Jeff Day, president
6677 Frank Ave.NW, Jackson Township
330-493-3722

We suppose it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that an architecture firm ran away as the winner of the category Building With the Best Design/Architecture.

SoL Harris/Day Architecture recently completed its new office space on Frank Avenue in Jackson Township.

“We are honored and humbled,” said Jeff Day, president, after hearing news of the award. “We are in the business of designing building, and creating workplace environments and sustainable buildings. What better place to show off your work than in designing your own?”

Harris/Day designed the new structure with much thought for the future. The growth of the firm made it essential for a new work space. Day said the firm’s staff was driven by a desire to “practice what we preach” and create a more collaborative and integrated work environment. The new architecture office is designed to a very high standard of sustainability and is pursuing LEED Gold certification.

“We’ve done some interesting things here,” he said, crediting young staff members for their contributions to the new building.

“It has been interesting to see how our strategies have worked.”

The vision of the building was developed to utilize an open design to mimic the firm brand through color, simplicity and materials. The two story building is organized into an upper and lower studio with several smaller breakout rooms and collaboration tables. An open family room area is the core connection space with a kitchenette and multiple styles of seating to encourage collaboration and social interaction between employees and clients.

The site was selected for its proximity to bus lines and businesses.

The new space, filled with natural light, is a model for green design practices. It provides a chance to live in an environment similar to the spaces that the company promotes.

“It was designed for people, designed for life,” Day said.

BEST DO-GOODER: MARIA BYINGTON

Owner, Arcadia Grill
321 Court Ave.NW, Canton
330-454-6055

Every once in a while you meet a truly altruistic person. That is what Canton has in Maria Byington.

And it seems somewhat fitting that Byington, voted as Best Do-Gooder by About readers, asked if we could just name the runner-up for the honor instead of her. She wouldn’t allow us to take her photo or interview her for this story.

Whether she is supporting an individual down on his luck due to illness, or an established nonprofit agency, Byington has made a name for herself by giving. Her restaurant, Arcadia Grill, has been the site of many fundraisers, such as the annual Christmas in July in which proceeds benefit various nonprofit organizations.

In 2011, when her employees wanted to let her know just how much she meant to them by having a fundraiser to help her with her own medical bills, she refused. But her sister, Robin Muntean, the restaurant’s head waitress, said it was too late, and the dinner went on as planned. People lined up around the block to help.

As her sister said at the time, what goes around, comes around, despite Byington’s objections. Byington said she appreciates the Do-Gooder honor, but she doesn’t want the notoriety. Sorry, Maria, but the title belongs to you.

BEST WEDDING VENUE: BROOKSIDE FARMS

Bob Pawley, John Schumacher, and
Wayne Emerick, owners
5444 Ravenna Ave., Nimishillen Twp.
morethanjustafarm.com

Located near the intersection of State routes 44 and 62, Brookside Farms is a 128-acre farm in a very private setting — which includes a barn built in 1884 and a farmhouse from 1870. It has been chosen by About readers as Best Wedding Venue in Stark County.

“There is a lot of natural beauty here,” said Bob Pawley, one of three owners of the property. “The first year we were open, we had three weddings. We have 81 weddings this year.”

The owners say word-of-mouth caused the explosion in their business. Pawley, John Schumacher and Wayne Emerick are partners in Brookside Farms, which opened five years ago as an event venue.

“A lot of people have been here,” said Schumacher. “I really think it has been a combination of things that have contributed to our success.”

Among them are the quiet, soft beauty of the farm and the fact that the owners are very hands-on and detailed-oriented, especially for weddings.

“We work very hard to make brides happy,” said Pawley, explaining the owners are quick to respond to clients.

Details include having parking attendants assist in parking cars in an area near the barn but out of site of the event. The barn is heated on cooler evenings and is equipped with large fans for warmer evenings, with white padded chairs and 60-inch round tables available. Ideal for hosting out-of-town guests or for bridal party preparation on the day of the ceremony, the 1870 brick farmhouse has been completely restored. It features three bedrooms, two full baths, a fully equipped kitchen, dining and living rooms, a large sunroom, sitting area and wireless Internet access.

In addition, Emerick, who has lived on the farm 55 years, still farms the land. He raises Black Angus cattle and runs a hay operation.

“This is kind of wild that we’ve been selected,” Emerick said. “I’d like to think we were chosen because of the detail we put into every event. We even do the landscaping here.”

Emerick, who drives a school bus for Louisville City Schools, started working on the farm at age 10.

“I started at the bottom, cleaning out horse stalls,” he said.

BEST CHOCOLATIER: ANASTASIADES EXCLUSIVE CHOCOLATES

Sam and Larry Anastas, owners
6656 Wise Ave.NW, North Canton
330-494-5500

Sam and Larry Anastas, owners of Anastasiades Exclusive Chocolates, named Best Chocolatier by About magazine readers, say they owe it all to their dad.

“A lot of things we do today go way back to when our father started,” Sam said. “Our dad started to tinker with chocolates in 1984. Our vision today remains the same as it was then — to provide our customers unique, visually tempting and flavorful chocolate creations.”

Sam said they get rave reviews for their signature strawberries and turtles. Dark chocolate is gaining some attention though.

“Some of the new items we have are 70 percent dark chocolate,” Sam said. “Our customers have embraced this and we continue to make more products in dark chocolate.”

As for being named Best Chocolatier in Stark County?

“It is tremendous for us. I think it justifies our belief that we’ve been doing things right. We want to thank everyone who voted for us and have supported us,” he said.

BEST PLACE FOR BOTOX: SPA AT ATRIUM

4151 Holiday St.NW, Jackson Township.
330-649-4203

Ahhhh. That is the sound of relaxation that the Spa at Atrium, which was named the “Best Place for Botox,” hopes to provide for its clients.

“It is exciting, but I am not surprised,” said Shirley Kozinski, supervisor of the 6-year-old business, about receiving the award. “We have a very good physician-based program here.”

Being physician-based allows the business to do procedures that enhance beauty, such as Botox.

“It is a costly procedure that isn’t permanent, but it minimizes aging effects down the road,” Kozinski said.

The spa also offers laser procedures, wrinkle reduction, acne control, color correction for pigmentation issues, hair removal, spider-vein removal, chemical peels and micro dermabrasion in addition to day spa services.

MOST NOTABLE PERSON: STEVE COON

Steve Coon, owner,
Coon Restoration & Sealants
7349 Ravenna Ave. NE,
Nimishillen Township
330-875-2100

No one can argue that Steve Coon, a local developer and preservationist, has made a mark in downtown Canton and the surrounding areas.

His work has been certainly been noticed by About readers, who voted Coon as Stark County’s Most Notable Person.

“Can you believe it?,” he said when he found out about the honor. “My name is out there because we are associated with the buildings downtown one way or another … it is humbling, really.”

His signature can be found on a number of locations statewide, including local projects such as the Northmark Building, Palace Theatre, the Brownstone Building, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church.

His awards — both personally and professionally — are equally impressive. Coon Restoration & Sealants has received the Cleveland Restoration Society 2001 Preservation Award, the Builders Exchange 2003 Craftsmanship Award, Heritage Ohio 2004 Best Facade Improvement over $5,000, Canton Preservation Society’s 2005 Preservation Award, and the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution 2006 Historic Preservation Award … to name a few. Coon was also named as a Mover & Shaker by About magazine in 2009.

“I grew up in North Canton and moved to Louisville,” Coon said. “My wife and I started this business in 1983. We work all over the state from Cleveland to Cincinnati, but Stark County is home. Of all 88 counties, it is the best.”