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Lehigh Acres businesses feted at ‘Best of’

By Staff | Oct 30, 2019

Businesses gathered at El Tarasco Mexican Restaurant last Tuesday to be honored at the annual “Best of Lehigh Acres” luncheon hosted by the Lehigh Acres Citizen.

Stu Johnson, account executive for the Breeze Newspapers, said the event is a culmination of the annual readers poll, where Citizen readers get to vote on their favorite businesses in Lehigh.

“We have a lot of repeat winners as well as some newcomers. There are a wide variety of businesses that take care of the whole city,” Johnson said. “It’s a great community event.”

The luncheon featured an appearance from Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann, who talked about how far the area has come in the decade since the Great Recession decimated the country, with Lehigh Acres one of the most heavily impacted.

“This is an exciting time for Lehigh Acres. We are making strides and getting national attention for our growth. Six years ago, you couldn’t find a get together like this,” Mann said. “Lehigh was in desperate straits and everyone was just trying to hang on.”

County Commissioner Frank Mann speaks during the Best of Lehigh Acres event Tuesday at El Tarasco Mexican Restaurant. CHUCK BALLARO

Also honored was Dr. Michael Tucker, who was named Humanitarian of the Year to go along with being named the best family physician.

As has been the case the last few years, it was Emjays that took the most awards, with six (burgers, chicken wings, bar, sports bar, live entertainment, Happy Hour) after winning five last year.

Chef Mat Meale said he was thrilled his restaurant continues to collect the hardware.

“It’s really nice to know the people accept us in the community and they keep coming back and recommending us,” Meale said about the five-year-old eatery. “We like to set a standard that we follow consistently and put passion into what we do.”

Robert Bowers won four awards for accountant, accounting firm, tax preparation and financial services. He said he was astounded.

Mat Meale and Murielle Rilen with their six best of awards during the Best of Lehigh Acres event Tuesday at El Tarasco Mexican Restaurant. CHUCK BALLARO

“I had no idea. I guess I’m popular. I had no idea people were voting,” Bowers said. “I think the key is people trust us. We don’t go for fraud and people know that and that’s what people are looking for.”

Gary Bell, CEO of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, picked up the two awards it won. He said the event is a show of support for all that is happening.

“It shows the diversity of all the things the community is doing. I’m so busy at the hospital, it shows me what else is happening,” Bell said. “It’s better to do business here than spend it in Fort Myers.”

For many businesses, this has become routine. Livingston Air won Best A/C and Heating for the 19th straight year, while Homestead Liquors won for the 13th straight time and Your Neighborhood Shipping Store earned its 11th straight.

Landex International won for best Association Property Management. Robyn Rocco said they have been named the best since 2012 and it never gets old.

“This is a nice event and we appreciate our clients and the local businesses. We’re the biggest in Southwest Florida and the majority of our accounts are in Lehigh,” Rocco said. “We believe a handshake means a lasting friendship.”

As for El Tarasco, which hosted the event for the third straight year (and won best Mexican restaurant), it was another opportunity to bring together the community’s best.

“I’m glad we got to congratulate all the winners. It was amazing,” said owner Francisco Solis. “For me, it’s a chance to meet other business owners in the area. These successful people make this a better community.”

“Best of Lehigh Acres” winners:

Daycare – Open Doors Preschool

Preschool – Open Doors Preschool

Community Organization – Kiwanis

Thrift Store – Kiwanis

New Business – Las Gorditas

Family Entertainment – Pelican’s Snowballs

New Orleans Shaved Ice – Pelican’s Snowballs

Golf Course – Majestic Country Club

Cardiologist – Dr. Harris Turalic

Burger – Emjays

Chicken Wings – Emjays

Best Bar – Emjays

Sports Bar – Emjays

Live Entertainment – Emjays

Happy Hour – Emjays

Mexican Restaurant – El Tarasco

Seafood – Deb’s Seafood

Buffet – Asian Buffet

Chinese Restaurant – China Star

Italian Food – Marco’s

Pizza – Marco’s

BBQ – Woody’s BBQ

New Restaurant – Woody’s BBQ

Neighborhood Bar – Homestead Sports Bar

Beach Bar – Homestead Sports Bar

Grocery Store – Publix

Bakery – Publix

Health System – Lehigh Regional Medical Center

Hospital – Lehigh Regional Medical Center

Emergency Care – Med Express

Independent Living – Fountain Crest

Retirement Living – Fountain Crest

Outpatient Radiology Facility – Radiology Regional Center

Woman’s Imaging Center – Radiology Regional Center

Pharmacy – Medicine Shoppe

Medicare Agent – Kelly Johnson Insurance for Seniors

Technical School – Donna Beasley Charter-Technical School

Pool Service – Pool Scouts

Car Wash – LA?Car Wash

Dermatology Center – Florida Skin Center

Family Physician – Dr. Michael Tucker M.D.

Humanitarian of the Year – Dr. Michael Tucker M.D.

Medical Group – Millennium Physician Group

Fitness Center – World Gym

Sports Medicine & Rehab – Sports Specialty & Rehab

Personal Trainer – Sam Trawick

Dental Office – Riverdale Dental

Pet Grooming – A Plus Pet Grooming

Veterinary Practice – Animal Medical Center

Barber Shop – Cutting Edge Barber Shop

Hair Salon – At the Top Salon

Nail Salon – At the Top Salon

Shipping Store – Neighborhood Shipping

Fence Company – All Fences

Plumbing – Cam Plumbing

Roofing Company – Nastar Roofing

Auto Repair – Frogs Auto Repair

Auto Service – Frogs Auto Repair

Oil Change – Frogs Auto Repair

Tire Service – Tire Kingdom

Charter School – Palm Acres Charter School

Veterans Organization – American Legion Post 323

Association Property Management – Landex International

Building Lot Sales – American Heritage Realty

Commercial Real Estate Broker – Rick Anglickis

Real Estate Agency – Sonia Rios

Commercial Real Estate Team – Sonia Rios

Mortgage Company – AAA South Florida

Real Estate Team – Lehigh Realty

Residential Real Estate Broker – Diane Turrill, Lehigh Realty

Real Estate Rental & Property Management – Lehigh Realty

Title Company – Homestead Title

Construction Company – Dastani Homes

Home Builder – Dastani Homes

Kitchen/Bath Remodeler – Turn Key Kitchen & Bath

Florist – Westminster Florist

Dentist – Dr. Loven Litchmore DDS

Insurance Agency – Goodlad Swank

Accountant – Robert Bowers

Accounting Firm – Bowers Accounting

Tax Preparation – Bowers Accounting

Financial Servces – Bowers Accounting

Air Conditioning Service – Livingston Air

Air Conditioning Sales – Livingston Air

Insurance Agent – Tania Vega