Best of 2021

Letter from the Publisher

We are on a roll!

This past year has been challenging for everyone. We are thankful that we are able to recognize creativity and excellence during this unprecedented time. Back on a roll, ShowCase is thrilled that we we now get a chance to highlight the best and brightest in our region. As our nation returns to work and we look back on this past year, it is our honor to rev up the engines and focus on moving forward and celebrating ShowCase Magazine’s Best of 2021 with you, our readers.

The voting process started in March as we turned to you, our loyal reader, and asked you to cast your vote for the Best in 51 categories. Votes poured in for everything from shopping to healthcare, cuisine and giving back.

In this issue, ShowCase Magazine celebrates our local businesses and organizations and spotlights their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic while also celebrating the Best in our region as determined by our readers. Our team then compiled the votes for the Best, and those nominees are honored in this issue.

We invite our readers to seek these organizations out and congratulate them on their success and being voted the Best of 2021. Whether you are reading this in print, online or on social media, we invite you to celebrate these businesses and pay them a compliment or simply send them your patronage. Congratulations to the Best of 2021.

Thank you for reading and celebrating with us!

Robin Lucas, Publisher

This Issue’s Categories

Home

Shopping Experience

Services

Health & Wellness

              Schools

Dining

              People’s Choice

              Italian

              Asian Influence

              Mexican

              Meat Lovers

              Dining with Flair

Destinations, Entertainment & Giving Back

Featured Stories

The HeART of the Home Cabinets by Trivonna

Cabinets by Trivonna of Olympia pride themselves on a design experience that is uniquely customized to their individual client’s dreams and wishes. Trivonna Cabinets brings to life an artful design […]

Northlight Interiors — Style Redefined

With many of us spending more time at home this past year, it has been a great time to look at redecorating your space. Anyone who has ever set out […]

Crumbl Cookies: More than Just a Cookie

When you step inside of Crumbl Cookies, it feels as if you have stepped inside a secret bakery. The vibe is vivacious and magnetic. Cookie lovers can watch each step […]

O Bee Credit Union—Giving Back through the Pandemic

With a rich history, a mandate to serve, and a commitment to community, O Bee Credit Union donated over $50,000 to local charitable organizations during Covid-19. Through their combined “Masks-for-Charity” […]

Financial Insights Celebrates 40 Years

Serving well over 600 clients in the Puget Sound Area, Financial Insights is an independent wealth management and retirement planning firm that is second-generation, family owned and operated. With a […]

A Huge Step for Thurston County Health

No April Fools’ jokes here, we promise! At exactly midnight on April 1, 2021, MultiCare Health System brought Capital Medical Center (CMC) into their family by purchasing the hospital from […]

Crockett’s—Good Food for Good People

When you use the highest-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, people tend to notice. Like one diner from Auburn wrote recently in her restaurant review of Crockett’s Public House, located in Puyallup: Crockett’s […]

From Homeless Backpacks to All Kids Win

Homeless and hungry children and teens are an existing, exponential problem in our country. It may not cross one’s mind that the student they see walking down the school hallway […]

United Way of Pierce County Celebrates 100 Years

Over $350 million dollars has been reinvested in Pierce County since 1921 when the United Way of Pierce County (UWPC) was formed.  Originally known as the Federation of Social Service […]

APCC Celebrates 25th Anniversary

It was 1996 and Patsy Suh O’Connell was searching for a way to honor her recently deceased father. She decided to create a nonprofit that honored his Korean heritage. She […]

Asia Pacific Cultural Center Steps Up to Help Community

A quick visit to Asia Pacific Cultural Center’s Facebook page and you see it instantly. This organization does so much for the South Sound community, but especially during the current […]

Rolf’s Import Auto Celebrates 50 Years

There’s a special kind of magic in European fuel injection cars. Rolf Simons knew that. In 1970 Rolf Simons opened a small auto repair shop in Lakewood. His business began […]

Tumwater Eye Center: Designed with New Technology

At the Tumwater Eye Center, Dr. Douglas Jeske and his wife Karen have created a distinctive look and customer experience for their patients.  This new facility, located at 6510 Capitol […]

Crockett’s—Good Food for Good People

When you use the highest-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, people tend to notice. Like one diner from Auburn wrote recently in her restaurant review of Crockett’s Public House, located in Puyallup:

Crockett’s uses rice oil for their deep-fried items and oh my goodness they are so good! My favorite is the deep-fried fish and calamari. The calamari dipping sauce is crave worthy and I can’t help but dip everything in it. I haven’t had anything on the menu that didn’t taste absolutely fantastic.

With over 35 years in the restaurant business, the owner of Crockett’s Public House and three other South Sound restaurants, Shaun Brobak, was recently asked what’s the most compelling thing he’s learned in the restaurant industry.

Brobak’s answer came to him quickly, “People’s lives have gotten busier and dining out isn’t something they do as a special occasion. It is an everyday part of their lives.”

Hence the importance of takeout during the recent lockdowns to both Brobak and his clientele who craved the special recipe menu items offered by his restaurant group (which also includes Trackside Pizza and .

“During the pandemic, it was difficult to do a lot of adjustments or changes to the menu that we typically do, so for takeout we focused on what we’ve always done well,” said Brobak, adding, “We hope to begin some new recipe and menu development as we move along.”

This award-winning restaurant, which has been featured on national food channels, has some menu items that likely will never change. For example, their much-loved Eggs Benedict has always been featured on their incredibly popular weekend-only breakfast menu.

Other intensely popular items include their top-selling fried zucchini, sloppy Joes or grilled artichokes featured by Guy Fieri in 2011 on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Maybe your favorite is their authentic green chili burger or their rich and delicious lobster mac & cheese.

Crockett’s Public House
crockettspublichouse.com/puyallup

LYNN CASTLE

A Huge Step for Thurston County Health

No April Fools’ jokes here, we promise! At exactly midnight on April 1, 2021, MultiCare Health System brought Capital Medical Center (CMC) into their family by purchasing the hospital from a for-profit organization, LifePoint Health. The acquisition was in discussion for about five years and the decision to buy was finally made last Fall. The process only took a quick and impressive 90 days! Since 1882, MultiCare has worked tirelessly to provide the best care and services in Washington State, and to reach their vision of being the Pacific Northwest’s highest-value healthcare system. For Capital Medical Center and all their employees, joining MultiCare is a huge step for Thurston County as it expands healthcare quality and access, and makes achieving this vision possible.

Before MultiCare, as many as 0.08% shares in CMC were privately owned. However, MultiCare bought all of CMC shares back at 100%, which makes it possible for the organization to achieve nonprofit status for the first time in 36 years. And, by the end of the year, they will be their own entity. The sale also allows the Center to fully invest in their faculty and services.

According to Capital Medical Center’s recently appointed President, Will Callicoat, “This isn’t just buying [CMC], it’s an investment in the County. There was a natural and personal desire to further the mission of expanding on the care provided in Thurston County.”

Callicoat is one healthcare professional and County resident that supported this procurement on a personal level. He was jazzed to share with us all the benefits that will be realized over the next seven months. Unfortunately, in the last few decades, investment in the care system was lacking, noticeable even in small things. But through this acquisition, about $8 million dollars went toward much-needed projects: a new IT infrastructure; new technical machines for procedures such as CTC scans and ultrasounds; new chairs and a phone system for employees; and around 88 other crucial items and advancements in neurology, urology and other medical fields.

This is an exciting time for the people of Thurston County and Washington State residents overall. As Callicoat puts it, the partnership between Capital Medical Center and MultiCare Health System will ensure, “Better, safer and more modernized care for the community.”

MultiCare Health System
multicare.org

LYNN CASTLE

Northlight Interiors — Style Redefined

With many of us spending more time at home this past year, it has been a great time to look at redecorating your space. Anyone who has ever set out to redecorate knows that creating a new look can be challenging. Whether it is one room or an entire home, the task can be overwhelming. With so many choices, colors and fabrics, it can be difficult to know where to begin. For local Pacific Northwest designers Juleen Pudists and Christine Kern, helping clients turn dreams into reality is what makes every project a unique adventure.

“Every project is led by the client’s hopes,” says Pudists. “Inspiration might come from a piece of art, their favorite color or the environment, like the beach or the mountains.”

Clients benefit from the two designers’ diverse backgrounds. Both highly creative with a love for architecture, they have experience with their own design projects and are skilled in both residential remodels and commercial projects throughout the Northwest. Working with contractors and homeowners alike, Pudists and Kern have a healthy respect for both sides of the building industry.

The design duo focuses on delivering peace of mind, which extends to the type of products sold in their showroom in Sumner. “We don’t allow anything in the store that we would not want to take home with us,” says Pudists. They carry a
number of items made exclusively in the U.S. and also items that are good for the home and the environment, such as clean-burning candles.

With a long list of satisfied clients and more in the works, this team is making serious style happen in the local design arena.

Stop by the beautiful showroom in Sumner or check them out online or on Instagram and Facebook.

Northlight Interiors
1119 Main Street, Sumner
253.826.0339
northlightinteriors.com

ANDREA LERUM

Financial Insights Celebrates 40 Years

Serving well over 600 clients in the Puget Sound Area, Financial Insights is an independent wealth management and retirement planning firm that is second-generation, family owned and operated. With a corporate philosophy to always include service to their community as one of their core missions, Financial Insights is celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year.

“We strive to always put our stakeholders first. And those stakeholders are not only our clients, but also our staff and community,” said Ali Criss, President of Financial Insights.

The value of community first is one Criss shares with her partners Dorothy Lewis, the CEO and founder of Financial Insights in 1981, and with Mike Dunbar, Principal. It is at the heart of what drives all three of them.

Whether it is teaching educational seminars or using their expertise to serve as board members or on advisory committees of local foundations, community colleges and various charities, employees of Financial Insights are committed to their core mission to support their community.

“Our team of sixteen is highly focused on relationship building with each other, our clients and within our community,” added Criss.

One example is the Wisdom with Women speaker series that is presented monthly. Featuring local female professionals, topics vary from estate planning to real estate. These complimentary programs are open to everyone and are designed to enhance knowledge and make attendees feel more comfortable in the financial space.

“I feel most valuable when I’m helping women who’ve never managed their own money. As a female-run firm, our team has so much empathy to assist other women,” said Criss. “I also want to help the most vulnerable populations build wealth while investing in long-term, conservative investments,” she added.

The team at Financial Insights will mark the occasion of their 40th Anniversary with a party in their new 7500 square foot offices at the top of the Carlton building across from the Tacoma Art Museum. Typically, they host their Annual Community & Friends Holiday Party in winter. But, because of COVID restrictions, the party is delayed to late 2021 or early 2022.

Financial Insights
financialinsights.com

LYNN CASTLE

O Bee Credit Union—Giving Back through the Pandemic

With a rich history, a mandate to serve, and a commitment to community, O Bee Credit Union donated over $50,000 to local charitable organizations during Covid-19. Through their combined “Masks-for-Charity” initiative and Brewhouse t-shirt donations, O Bee donated proceeds to more than eight local charities.

After witnessing the effects of COVID-19 on locals, O Bee searched for a way to help those struggling in the communities they served. When the statewide mask mandate went into effect, it sparked an idea.

“We thought, why not offer our iconic Olympia, Rainier and Pabst beer logos on masks in exchange for a small donation?” said Lee Wojnar, Vice President of Marketing.

The new mask fundraising initiatives brought in about $30,000, coupled with their traditional Brewhouse t-shirts sales of $20,000. Many people offered well over the $5 suggested contribution for the masks, which maximized the money raised.

Soon after, O Bee began donating money to community organizations focused on helping those impacted by the pandemic. O Bee donated between $3,000 and $10,000 each to the following nonprofits:

  • Thurston County Food Bank & Nourish Pierce County. Both food banks faced shortages when a surge in demand doubled as more people relied on their services.
  • Family Support Center. Among its many services, it operates Pear Blossom Place — a 24/7 family shelter in Olympia that was impacted by a fire.
  • Little Red Schoolhouse. Little Red Schoolhouse provides school supplies, backpacks, and gently used clothes to students in need.
  • Homeless Backpacks. This organization is committed to fighting food insecurity for homeless children and teens in local communities.
  • The United Way of the Pacific Northwest’s Wildfire Relief Fund. The fund helps those affected by the wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Family Education and Support Services. The Resilience Center provides critical services to families to help keep children safe.
  • Community Youth Services. CYS provides short or long-term care for youth needing a safe, nurturing home.
  • Olympia Tumwater Foundation. This organization carries on the Schmidt Family philanthropic legacy.

O Bee Credit Union
obee.com

LYNN CASTLE

From Homeless Backpacks to All Kids Win

Homeless and hungry children and teens are an existing, exponential problem in our country. It may not cross one’s mind that the student they see walking down the school hallway or sitting at the bus stop will be struggling to find a meal that weekend. However, there are many people, such as the members of the All Kids Win organization (formally known as Homeless Backpacks), that recognize this issue and are working effectively to feed hungry students and end the cycle of homelessness.

For the last seventeen years, 100% volunteer-based Homeless Backpacks has helped homeless teen students in Washington State. Over the years, the number of teens this organization has fed grew as schools and counselors reached out consistently. In the beginning, Homeless Backpacks quietly donated packed bags filled with foods like tuna, granola bars and instant oatmeal to schools requesting assistance, and the counselors would give the food to the students in need through confidential avenues. Up until last year when COVID-19 hit, Homeless Backpacks was helping over 600 students a week. However, as pandemic restrictions changed the way students were attending school, it also changed the way the organization was giving — big time.

The number of students Homeless Backpacks helped per week went from 600 to over 2200 almost overnight. The operation no longer functioned as it had originally; instead of counselors calling for the delivery of 10 or so bags, school districts began picking up food by the truckloads! The pandemic brought on huge transitions for the organization. It was time to expand their vision and their brand.

At the beginning of 2021, Homeless Backpacks became All Kids Win in reflection of this evolution. Stephanie Hemphill of All Kids Win says, “We rebranded and renamed our nonprofit because we are not only serving homeless students but also serving food-insecure students. They could be kids living with a family below the poverty line, a kid who is couch surfing to escape an abusive home, or any other situation that would put them in a position to not know where their next meal is coming from. Our vision is that hunger never stands in the way of education, so we want our name to reflect our mission and vision.”

Right now, the number of teen clients is up to around 1300 a week. As schools go back to a “normal” routine, All Kids Win plans on adopting their previous model again, although their organization will never be the same. With the overwhelming influx of volunteers stepping in, All Kids Win anticipates a smooth transition and looks forward to the growth. Their hope is to relieve some of the pressure so that kids can simply worry about kid things.

All Kids Win
homelessbackpacks.org

NATALIE BENSON

Best of 2021 Celebration

Join the party as ShowCase Magazine celebrates the best that Puget Sound has to offer in 2021. The Best of ShowCase Magazine Party will be held on August 13th, 5:30-8:30pm, at the Lemay- America’s Car Museum in Tacoma.

Now that we are back on a roll, we are excited to congratulate all of our nominees in fifty-one categories, from Best Schools to Best Italian Dining to Best Real Estate Agent, and everyone in between!

The excitement began in March of 2021 when readers submitted online votes for their favorite business and organizations. Votes were tabulated, and top nominees are featured in the year’s most highly read ShowCase Magazine, where we announce the 2021 honorees. 

To attend the event, purchase your tickets here:  ShowCase Magazine Best of 2021 tickets

Proudly sponsored by:

United Way of Pierce County Celebrates 100 Years

Over $350 million dollars has been reinvested in Pierce County since 1921 when the United Way of Pierce County (UWPC) was formed.  Originally known as the Federation of Social Service Agencies, the organization was born out of the necessity to better coordinate the work of several Tacoma social agencies to avoid duplication and serve more people.

How does an organization like the United Way of Pierce County that gives so much celebrate something as momentous as a 100-year anniversary?  Well, that’s easy.  They give some more.  

On May 14, to honor the first day in 1921 the Federation of Social Service Agencies held an official meeting complete with officers, the UWPC will be collecting non-perishable food to feed families in need from locations throughout Pierce County from 11am to 2pm.  For more information, go to united-way-pierce-county-turns-100-years-old.

This first event will be followed by two other celebratory events including a Public Kickoff in September, followed by a Gala Dinner in 2022.

Looking back through the years to 1921 is interesting, but UWPC is highly focused on looking forward with their “15,000 by 2028” pledge.

“At United Way of Pierce County, we have a long, rich history of mobilizing the caring power of our community and we’re committed to lifting 15,000 families out of poverty and into financial stability by 2028, one family at a time,” said Dona Ponepinto, President and CEO of United Way of Pierce County.

As of this writing, UWPC is well on its way to exceeding that goal with more than 4,300 families moving towards self-sufficiency since the pledge was made in 2018.   In partnership with the community, Ponepinto and her team are meeting this goal in three ways.

Through partnerships with seven trusted community organizations, the United Way of Pierce County’s Center for Strong Families helps struggling, local families improve their financial bottom line with one-on-one mentoring and coaching.  The program helps clients get jobs, increase their income, decrease their expenses, build their credit and acquire assets.

By investing in basic needs through a wide range of community organizations, UWPC helps cover critical needs like food, health care, childcare and shelter.  When a family’s basic needs are met, they can move out of crisis and prevent future crisis through greater stability.

And then, there’s United Way’s South Sound 211 — a free helpline to connect people in need with critical community resources and provide navigation services for behavioral health, housing, transportation, and employment. 

After nearly 30 years in existence, the mission of 211 expanded as it began tackling COVID-19 issues in addition to housing and other needs it typically handles.  South Sound 211 was instrumental in meeting the challenges faced during the pandemic.  As part of the WA211 Network, 211 was activated to respond to calls for the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH) COVID-19 Hotline, resulting in expanded hours of operation, and the hiring and training of additional staff and volunteers.  Supporting Pierce, Thurston and Lewis Counties, 211 connected more than 79,000 people (60,000 via the hotline number) in 2020.

According to Pete Grignon, Chief Financial Officer of United Way of Pierce County with over 33 years of tenure, “It really is about finding the best way to help the most people.”  

United Way of Pierce County
uwpc.org

Everybody Can Find a Spot at Well 80

Well 80 Brewhouse was opened in 2016, drawing on the rich brewing history of Olympia and Leopold Schmidt.  Couple that with the excellent beer brewing water provided by Artesian wells found on the property and a proven local restauranteur in Chris Knudson and you have a recipe for success.

According to owner and Director of Operations, Knudson, “There are 50 or so brewpubs within driving distance from Olympia, so we knew we had to set ourselves apart with great food, served in a family friendly atmosphere.” He went on to say, “At Well 80, we pride ourselves on local hospitality and want our customers to enjoy the ambiance, staff and food equally.”  

Everybody can find a spot at Well 80.  The restaurant and brewhouse easily accommodates 20-somethings out on the town but, also a 40-year old parent. Knudson said, “I am a parent of two children, six and eight, and I wanted to build a place where families could go and the adults could still enjoy themselves with a great beer and delicious food.”

Surviving during a pandemic took some help from PPE loans and grants, as well tapping into the resiliency of Knudson’s other two well established Casa Mia restaurants. As a new restaurant, Well 80 faced higher overhead and a newer customer base. Knudson and his team got creative with their take-out menus and offered delivery. 

Outdoor seating played an expanded role which will likely be utilized year-round. The existing front sidewalk patio with heaters saw the addition of clear curtains that enclosed the area and blocked out the weather, creating a toasty greenhouse effect. And now the Alley seating is larger and has heaters. The huge roll up doors at the front of the restaurant are wide open everyday rain or shine, where tables are spaced out and the high ceilings allow for lots of air flow.

Located in downtown Olympia, Well 80 Brewhouse is open with indoor and outdoor seating, plus takeout.

Well 80
514 4th Avenue E, Olympia
well80.com

EMILY HAPPY