Our readers once again have the chance to vote for their favorite local places to eat, shop and play with the start of our 11th annual Readers' Choice contest, which has a new look this year, including a redesigned logo and the launch of our Readers' Choice Hall of Fame.
The 24 honorees that have won a Readers' Choice category for five or more consecutive years have been inducted into the Hall of Fame to recognize their longtime success and consistent customer support.
"It feels very special, and it's nice to be recognized," Judy Wheeler, owner of Towne Center Books, said during the Hall of Fame reception last week. "It feels like we're in a very elite club."
Towne Center Books (Best Bookstore) and Precision Auto Repair (Best Auto Repair) have won in their categories every year since 2006 -- when the inaugural contest had only a dozen categories.
New categories have been added over the years, beginning in 2007 when additions gave opportunities for Hall of Famers like In-N-Out Burger (Best Burger), Workbench True Value (Best Hardware Store) and Jazz N Taps (Best Place for Dance Lessons) to begin their consecutive-wins streak.
"Every year, when the Readers' Choice time comes, customers tell us, 'oh, Ziah, you won again,'" said Ziah Lee, co-owner of Hall of Fame member Sozo Sushi. "Our customers did it all for us. I'm so thankful to our customers for this pure honor."
"We love this, and we'll definitely have a place for this," Mike Nguyen of Bollinger Nail Salon said, holding his new Hall of Fame certificate. "This is very exciting. It shows that we are doing something right."
"I admire all the winners here. I patronize a lot of their stores and restaurants and to be among them is a great honor," Christina Gray, owner of Best Photographer Bella Luna Studios, said at the reception. "It's a wonderful honor, and it's feedback that my clients are happy with my work -- and that's my No. 1 priority."
Check out the full Hall of Fame list below. These businesses will not be eligible to compete in their categories this year because of their new Hall of Fame status.
The 2016 Readers' Choice ballot will remain active on PleasantonWeekly.com through Memorial Day. This year's winners will be announced in the print edition and on our website July 22.
Now in its 11th year, the Weekly's contest has become a Pleasanton tradition.
Experienced voters will notice some other changes to the ballot this year, including a restyled Readers' Choice logo and a new look to the online ballot page with opportunities for businesses to ask readers for their votes.
Several categories have also been retired from the contest because there are too few locations to have a good competition or there has been low voter turnout in previous years.
New ones have been added in, too, based on reader feedback; the list includes Best Barbershop, Best Pet Sitting/Day Care and Best Health/Nutrition Store.
As in past years, voters need to vote in at least five categories, complete the contact information at the end of the ballot and confirm their vote via email. We allow only one vote per person and confirmation is a way to discourage ballot box stuffing. It is important to remember that the ballot will not be counted until it is activated through the confirmation email automatically sent to you.
If you don't see your favorite on the drop-down list, please write in your selection to be tallied. After enough write-ins, the business will be added to the list.
Business owners whose businesses are not found under a category and want to be considered should email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hall of Fame honorees
The following businesses were inducted into the 2016 Readers' Choice Hall of Fame:
Best Acupuncture: Eastern Medical Center
Best American Food: Eddie Papa's American Hangout
Best Auto Repair: Precision Auto Repair
Best Bookstore: Towne Center Books
Best Breakfast: Jim's Country Style Diner
Best Burger: In-N-Out
Best Car Wash: Pleasanton Hand Car Wash
Best Carpet Cleaning Service: Glover's Deep Steam
Best Chinese Food: Chinese Szechuan
Best Florist: Alexandria's Flowers
Best Golf Course: Callippe Preserve Golf Course
Best Gym/Fitness Center: ClubSport Pleasanton
Best Hardware Store: Workbench True Value
Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt: Meadowlark Dairy
Best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern Restaurant: Oasis Grille
Best Mexican Restaurant: Casa Orozco
Best Nail Care: Bollinger Nail Salon
Best Pizza: Gay Nineties Pizza
Best Place for Dance Lessons: Jazz N Taps
Best Plumber: Valley Plumbing
Best Photographer: Bella Luna Studios
Best Realtor: Gina Piper, Better Homes and Gardens Tri-Valley Realty
Best Seafood: Strizzi's
Best Sushi/Japanese Restaurant: Sozo Sushi