The Best of White Bear Lake 2016 Winners

by | Jul 2016

Photos by Tate Carlson

Photos by Tate Carlson

A Great Gatsby-inspired nod to the Best of White Bear Lake 2016.

Ah, the Roaring Twenties with its flappers, jazz, gilded décor, glitz and glamour. For most city folks, it was a time of opulence, with fabulous food, high-energy dances like the Charleston and the Lindy Hop, and a lot of celebrating.

Well, old sport, we’ve got our own celebrating to do because it’s the annual Best of White Bear Lake. For the fourth year, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite restaurants, shops, services, professionals, etc. And, boy, did we get a turn out! You definitely weighed in on who you thought to be the bees’ knees in 38 curated categories.

In this special issue, you’ll find all the winners and the nominees, as well as a few editor’s picks, because, hey, they need some love too. Since our little bit of heaven on the shores of White Bear Lake has been around for so long, we have the benefit of buildings, businesses, churches, organizations, etc., that were up and operational during that heyday—and well before.

With that bit of nostalgia in mind, Sara Markoe Hanson, executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society, also dives a little deeper into the Great Gatsby-era with a look at F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time in our neck of the woods.

So, dolls, without any further ado, grab your feather boas and your pearls…and gents, don your shiny spats and tip your hat just-so. Cue the Cab Calloway music and pop a cork because it’s time to see what the best looks like in White Bear Lake.


From the perfect place to dine under the stars to the best spot to order a hot, handmade, coal-fired pizza, here are your top picks for food options.

Best Bakery
Grandma’s Bakery

With a company philosophy that states, “Be honest. Have fun. Be your best each and every day,” it’s little wonder Grandma’s Bakery creates some of the prettiest, tastiest and most delicious baked goods around. From their talented cake designers who can create masterpieces worthy of Jay Gatsby’s gilded soirees, to glass cases brimming with sweet treats, to the newly revamped Buerkle Road store that, according to owner John Lupo, “makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time to the 1920s,” yes, Grandma’s Bakery is that go-to-spot to cure any sweet tooth.
Runners up: Keys Café & Bakery, Café Cravings

A cake fit for Jay Gatsby himself, hand-crafted by the talented cake designers at Grandma’s Bakery.

A cake fit for Jay Gatsby himself, hand-crafted by the talented cake designers at Grandma’s Bakery.

Best Tavern/Bar
Washington Square

Offering a long list of scratch-made, specialty cocktails—including mint old-fashioned, Italian mojito and Minnesota fizz (a delectable combination of Norsemen strawberry rhubarb gin, champagne and lemon juice) among others, as well as 20 craft beers on tap, Washington Square was once again voted as Best Tavern/Bar. Looking for a little snack to go with those drinks? A sizable assortment of small plates, offering everything from calamari to beer-battered green beans to nachos or a chorizo tostada, will put a smile on your face.
Runners up: Big Wood Brewery, Rudy’s Redeye Grill

Best Patio Dining
Washington Square

It’s no secret that summer is short in our neck of the woods. So to take advantage of those warm sunny days and starlit nights, folks flock to spots with great outdoor dining. Washington Square, with its expansive menu and abundance of patio tables, is just the place to enjoy a fabulous al fresco meal with family and friends.
Runners up: Rudy’s Redeye Grill, Acqua

Best New Restaurant
Pizzeria Pezzo

Close your eyes. Now imagine a perfectly cooked deep-dish pizza—a stunning, coal-fired dandy with copious amounts of melted mozzarella, a hearty, rich tomato sauce and a thick, buttery, biscuit-like crust. You can almost smell it, can’t you? And the folks at Pizzeria Pezzo, your pick for Best New Restaurant, serve up the quintessential Chicago-style pies; not surprising, since this must-try eatery was originally started in the Windy City. Looking for a more traditional hand-stretched crust? Pezzo offers those, too, along with several thin crust varieties, and a huge selection of salads. Want to enjoy a delectable pie in the comfort of your own home? Pizzeria Pezzo now offers carryout.
Runners up: Olive’s Fresh Pizza Bar, Meet Market

Best Breakfast
Keys Café and Bakery

It is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And at Keys Café and Bakery, that all-important meal is also of great taste. With everything from a steaming bowl of oatmeal topped with brown sugar and cinnamon to saucer-sized pancakes made from scratch to a plate full of perfectly cooked steak and eggs, Keys is the perfect way to start your day. And don’t forget to grab a bakery item to go.
Runners up: Cobblestone Café, Washington Square

Take a bite out of this delicious pie from Pizzeria Pezzo.

Take a bite out of this delicious pie from Pizzeria Pezzo.

Editor’s Pick
White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf

Hunger is a sad realization, even in our neck of the woods. And the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf, which was formed in 1977 (and officially incorporated in 1984) by Mary Bosscher and Mim Kolling, has been addressing that issue (and more) by providing food and clothing to the area’s hungry. Last year alone, with the help of 150 volunteers and a large number of donors, the WBAEFS provided more than 615,000 meals to 2,907 individuals. We chatted with executive director Andrea Kish-Bailey about the food shelf and how folks can get involved.

Where do people come to get the food?

Neighbors shop during a scheduled appointment time at the food shelf located at 1884 Whitaker Street in White Bear Lake. Shopping hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Appointments can be made by phone or in person during our regularly scheduled office hours. During a monthly visit, our neighbors have access to their choice of milk, eggs, meat, pasta, rice, fresh and frozen produce, and a variety of other dry goods. Additionally, through a partnership with Second Harvest Food Rescue, neighbors have the option of participating in our Bonus Friday weekly produce program. A neighbor can visit the food shelf up to five times a month by participating in both the Monthly Shopping Program and Bonus Friday, where they have access to additional produce, dairy and meat as available. Most neighbors visit the food shelf an average of four or five times per year.

What items are you most in need of?

Thanks to the co-op buying power of the local food banks (The Food Group and Second Harvest Heartland) every dollar donated can purchase $8 worth of food. This cost savings allows us to further each donation we receive. However, there are items that are difficult for us to source, which include cooking spices, cooking oil, gluten-free items, baking ingredients and personal care items, such as toothpaste, shampoo, feminine products, etc.

Where/how can people donate/get involved?
Resources of time and money are always needed to help advance our mission of providing food and support to our neighbors in need. You can learn more about our giving opportunities on our website at, our Facebook page WBLFoodShelf, or by signing up for our monthly eNewsletter.


Our homes are our happy places.

They’re the soft place to fall and the place we can’t wait to get to, day in and day out. If you are looking to build a palace worthy of Jay Gatsby, or need a little spiffing up of the one you have, these are the places to turn to. And these folks will make sure that home, regardless of size, will be the stuff of your dreams, and where memories are made.

Best Landscape Designer/Architect
Rust Architects
Focusing on three main areas of interest—architecture, construction and property management—Rust Architects is the go-to spot for any remodeling and building project. This downtown White Bear Lake business was created in 1980, and has expanded over time to best meet the needs of its customers, by adding Rust Construction Services and Rust Management.
Runners up: NewStudio Architecture, Letourneau Landscaping Inc.

Bill Rust from Rust Architects.

Bill Rust from Rust Architects.

Best Builder/Remodeler
Pratt Homes

Serving the Twin Cities area since 1973, the brothers Pratt, Len and Lowell, who come from a long line of homebuilders, take pride in their work, and have created a streamlined process to make building and remodeling smooth and satisfying.
Runners up: Hagstrom Builder, Bald Eagle Construction

Best Senior Living Residence
Cerenity Senior Care

With activities such as indoor bowling, costume contests, music programs with area children, art sessions and a chili cook-off with local dignitaries as judges, Cerenity Senior Care keeps residents active and engaged. A recently added transitional care unit, boasting 40 private rooms and many other amenities, as well as a new assisted living and memory care building in the works, allows for the complete gamut of care.
Runners up: Arbors of White Bear Lake, St. Andrew’s Village

Best Interior Designer
Christina Lynn Interiors

Our homes truly are our castles. And even though they’re probably not the glittering mansions like those depicted in The Great Gatsby, they can be just as warm and inviting with the help of interior design wizard Christina Miller from Christina Lynn Interiors. “We design for the way our clients live,” Miller says. Christina Lynn Interiors offers top-notch design services, as well as a newly added home staging service to help homeowners prepare their homes for sale. “I believe that if I give my clients my time, my professional knowledge, and share my experience with them at a reasonable price, their life will be enriched by giving them a home or office space that is beautiful and enjoyable for them each and every day,” says Miller. Looking for some design inspiration? Check out Christina Lynn Interiors’ new website, chock full of photos from previous projects.
Runners up: NewStudio Architecture; Deb Walczak, Nesting Inc.

Best Home Service
Reibel Heating and Air Conditioning

When the late John Reibel started Reibel Heating and Air Conditioning in the 1950s, he did so with an eye toward hard work, honest pricing and excellent customer service. And he shared the passion for the business with his family. Marjorie Reibel, who will be 91 this year, “was still answering the office calls in 2011,” says Marjorie and John’s son, Brent Reibel, who now runs the business. Continuing John Reibel’s legacy, the business still services and installs furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners and boilers.
Runners up: Roger Vadnais Plumbing, Paul the Plumber

Best Home Furnishings
Abbott Paint & Carpet

When it comes to beautifying their customers’ homes, the folks at the family-run Abbott Paint & Carpet offer so much more than just high-quality paint; in fact, their in-house design services have been around for many years and are definitely something to write home about. “Abbott Paint & Carpet has more than 70 years of experience assisting our trained interior design consultants to fully understand our clients’ intentions,” says Dave Abbott, who owns the business with his brothers Kevin, Steve and Tim. “Our highly trained staff can meet at a customer’s home or in our stores. We then coordinate paint, carpet and window treatments, developing the new excitement within the homeowner’s budget.” So, next time you’re looking to spiff up that special room, or rooms, in your home, head to Abbott Paint & Carpet.
Runners up: Nesting Inc., ReUse ReStyle

The brothers Abbott, from left to right, Dave, Tim, Steve and Kevin. Photo by Joel Schnell

The brothers Abbott, from left to right, Dave, Tim, Steve and Kevin. Photo by Joel Schnell

Editor’s Pick
Manitou Days/Marketfest

It just wouldn’t be summer without the annual Manitou Days and Marketfest events, which is why these two fabulous festivals made it to the top of the editor’s pick list.

Manitou Days
Kicking off with their annual grand parade this year on June 16 and culminating with their awe-inspiring fireworks show and live music performance on July 4, this festival will undoubtedly draw thousands of attendees from all over the metro and beyond. The 2016 theme is Musical Bears and, in addition to the parade and fireworks show, will also feature a bevy of family-friendly activities, including fishing and sand sculpture contests, vintage boat show, live music from the Free and Easy Band, medallion hunt, beach dance and a whole lot more.

With everything from delicious food from more than 30 local eateries, arts and crafts, music, games and a petting zoo, it’s little wonder folks make this Thursday night event a regular occurrence. Marketfest takes place on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m., mid-June through the end of July.


As it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to keep an adult healthy and well. If you’re looking to find that perfect balance of body, mind and spirit with yoga, or need a little help to create a megawatt smile, we have some places that will help you do just that. Need some new specs to see the world a little more clearly? How about a pediatric clinic that will treat your little peanut’s boo-boos and illnesses? Check out these winners.

Best Eye Clinic
White Bear Eye Clinic & Optical

Since 1963, White Bear Eye Clinic & Optical has been helping their customers see clearly. This one-stop spectacle-and eye-care shop offers unparalleled customer service, state-of the-art diagnostic technology, and a wide range of lenses and stylish frames.
Runners up: Fashion Eyes, Birch Lake Eye Clinic

An assortment of eyeglass frames from White Bear Eye Clinic & Optical.

An assortment of eyeglass frames from White Bear Eye Clinic & Optical.

Best Fitness/Yoga Studio
LifeCore Yoga

With more than 20 teachers, a dozen classes and two locations, LifeCore Yoga wants to help you unite body, mind and spirit through the practice of yoga. And the word is getting out. “We have had so much success in helping others find better health and more moments of peace, they became so passionate about wanting all their friends and family to experience the same,” says owner Allison Drusch. “We love the support from the White Bear Lake community. Our studio is such a special place for our students, they are dedicated to making sure our small business stays in their town.”
Runners up: Life Time Athletic, Summit Pilates

Best Dental Clinic
Lakeshore Family Dentistry

Dental visits are often viewed with fear and trepidation. But Dr. Scott Kron and Dr. Jason Ross with Lakeshore Family Dentistry take the time to make sure patients are comfortable and have a thorough understanding of the procedures at hand. “We believe in collaboration, active listening and trust,” says Ross. “We hold extra time for our patients and move at a speed they prefer.”

And what do they love about providing excellent dental care in the area? “We are so fortunate to be near this beautiful lake and vibrant community. Human beings communicate best with stories, and White Bear Lake is known for its rich history that has been shared for generations in the shops, salons and, since 1969, in our dental office. It is a privilege to be trusted to care for such lovely people.”
Runners up: Dr. Sarah Boo, Orchard Dental Group

Best Orthodontic Clinic
Signature Orthodontics

A dazzling smile is a fabulous first impression; in fact, a brilliant smile can be the signature, the memorable asset folks remember you by. Dr. Wendy Sydlewski with Signature Orthodontics makes sure those smiles are great from the get-go, treating kids and teens, as well as adults. As both an orthodontist and a medical doctor, Sydlewski is equipped to understand and handle all of the orthodontic and medical-related issues that stand between you and your dazzling smile.
Runners up: Dr. Kent C. Gulden, Erickson-Aamodt Orthodontics

Best Chiropractic Clinic
The Carlson Clinic of White Bear Lake
Since 2003, Dr. Dustin Carlson has been providing unparalleled chiropractic services and treatments which address medical problems from low back pain to subluxation to sciatica, whiplash and golf injuries, just to name a few. Carlson, who grew up in White Bear Lake, is involved with many community organizations, including the White Bear Lake Rotary Club and the White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Mackenzie Stodola and Dr. Mitch Green round out this top-notch chiropractic team.
Runners up: Barr Chiropractic, HealthSource of White Bear Lake

Best Pediatric Clinic

From well-baby checks to annual exams to treating colds and other pediatric ailments, HealthPartners comes in tops in the Best Pediatric Clinic category. With convenient hours, patient doctors who know how to talk and listen to kiddos, and the most up-to-date information on how to keep kids healthy, it is little wonder HealthPartners is your first choice for local pediatricians.
Runners up: Northern Lights Pediatrics, Northeast Pediatrics

Best Dermatology Clinic
Advanced Dermatology Care

At Advanced Dermatology Care, patients are treated like family. “We aim to make our patients feel like they’re visiting a relative’s home,” says Ashley Ullmann, receptionist and marketing representative. “From the time they walk through the door and are greeted, to the in-depth, personal visits with doctors, it’s all about building relationships.” Advanced Dermatology Care offers many dermatologic medical and surgical services, as well as the latest in cosmetic services, including Botox, fillers, dermabrasion, tattoo removal and micropen treatments, which improve the skin’s texture, tone and color. The clinic is also rolling out kybella injections, a non-surgical treatment for eliminating double chins.
Runners up: Dermatology Consultants, Lake Area Dermatology

Best Medspa
Sunbear Salon & Medspa

In addition to providing the latest styles and techniques in haircuts and hair-related services, Sunbear Salon & Medspa also offers a wide array of medspa services in their beautiful, upscale salon. From laser skin rejuvenation to medical facial peels to microdermabrasion and Botox injections, the professionals at Sunbear Salon & Medspa will have you looking great in no time.
Runners up: Contour Clinic, Clear Skin Laser

Lakeshore Players Theatre's production of  "State Fair." Photo by George M. Calger

Lakeshore Players Theatre’s production of  “State Fair.” Photo by George M. Calger

Editor’s Pick
Lakeshore Players Theatre

Since 1953, Lakeshore Players Theatre (LPT) has been producing top-notch shows and bringing smiles to the faces of theater enthusiasts far and wide. From comedies to dramas to musicals and children’s shows, this year, the very busy LPT will be staging 21 shows (20 main stage shows and one at Landmark Center), featuring actors from all across the Twin Cities, including many from the White Bear Lake area who can walk to rehearsals and performances. Having outgrown their small, but loved, space on Stewart Avenue, the theater is in the midst of a capital appeal to create a performing arts center, which will allow for additional shows, programs and bigger audiences. We spoke with executive director Joan Elwell, who has been with LPT since 2004, and artistic director Ben Ratkowski, for an update on the capital appeal.

How is the capital appeal coming along?
Great! We have raised 54 percent of our $6.2 million goal. We are reaching out to everyone in the community to become involved and join us in raising the rest.

What are your plans for the new building (which will be located on the old Twin City Nursery site)?
Of course, the performing arts center will be a new home for Lakeshore Players, but it will also be a hub for all kinds of performing arts. We plan to create new programming, such as a children’s show series, plus present music and dance concerts, and even a film series. Because the new building will include two performance spaces, we will be able to triple our programming and plan to invite diverse arts partners to come to White Bear Lake and be a part of this exciting project.

When do you hope to be in the new space?
If we can raise another million dollars by May, we can break ground and start construction this year in late summer or early fall.

How can people help the appeal?
People can help by donating cash, transferring stock and other securities, or making in-kind donations of goods and services. Complete information is on our website, including a really cool animated 3D “fly-through” video at


We are blessed to have such a bountiful array of shops in our beautiful downtown area.

These quaint retail havens are the perfect spots to pop in for a gift, a lovely and unique statement piece, that bottle of wine to bring to your next shindig, a hard-to-find cooking item that will have you whipping up fancy meals in a jiffy, or the floral arrangement to make your dining room table really sparkle. So, what are you waiting for?…Ready, set, SHOP.

Best Apparel Boutique

At Goodthings, you’ll find trendy and unique fashion finds you won’t find in the big-box stores. And their quality in threads matches their customer service. “The sales staff is trained,” buyer and seller Kris Heins says. “They don’t just ring up a sale.” You can count on them to be helpful and honest with their opinions on your quest to find that perfect piece.
Runners up: Mainstream Boutique, Frank Murphy

Best Florist
White Bear Floral Shop & Greenhouse

Flowers helped Gatsby profess his love. Since 1932, White Bear Floral Shop florists have enchanted us with their delightful floral arrangements and bouquets of beauty elegant enough to charm Daisy Buchanan. With four full-time designers on board, White Bear Floral knows how to keep things fresh. “We get our flowers direct from South America,” co-owner John Birkeland says. “Our flowers are, within 36 hours, on our doorstep.”
Runners up: Lakeside Floral, Kowalski’s

Best Jewelry Store
Joel B. Sherburne Jewelers

Joel and Dorothy Sherburne’s jewelry store sparkles with glamour and gold. The family-owned shop is service oriented, offering custom designs and in-store repairs. “The goldsmiths we have in the back are the finest you can get in the country,” Dorothy Sherburne says. With certified gemologist appraiser Joel Sherburne at the helm, and a splendid crew of goldsmiths on board, the team at Joel B. Sherburne Jewelers, without a doubt, dazzles us with their artistry, knowledge and skill.
Runners up: White Bear Jewelers, Goodthings

Best Liquor Store
Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits

Whether you are stocking up for home or throwing a party for the entire town, Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits has you covered with its drink selections and enthusiastic service. “We are happy to teach people about what we are passionate about and expose people to a variety of options, both locally and nationally,” owner and vice-president Tom Boland says. With more than 500 varieties of brews available, you can tailor your six-pack to your heart’s desire.
Runners up: Haskell’s, Cotroneo’s Wine & Spirits

Best Specialty Foods Store

Shawn and Barbara Smith’s kitchen shop is kept well stocked with a variety of goodies (edible and not) making Eat!@Home a flavorfully eclectic one-stop-shop. “We have pans made in Milwaukee, utensils made in Duluth, cheeses made in Wisconsin—all kinds of interesting things that make it fun,” owner Shawn Smith says.
Runners up: Olive Branch, Meet Market

A few of the fun items you can find at Goodthings. Photo courtesy of Goodthings

A few of the fun items you can find at Goodthings. Photo courtesy of Goodthings

Best Gift Shop

At Goodthings, buyer and seller Kris Heins often hears from customers: “I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I knew I could come in here and find something.” Never settling for the same old stuff, the team at Goodthings keeps their shelves brimming with the latest and greatest gifts.
Runners up: Truly, The Farmer’s Daughter

Best Grocery Store
Kowalski’s Market

Family-owned and-operated, Kowalski’s has been a delicious part of the White Bear Lake neighborhood for 30 years. “Our food and our people have integrity,” culinary director Rachael Perron says. “We promote health, quality and local products in a unique atmosphere that emphasizes personal relationships.”
Runners up: Cub Foods, Festival Foods


As any parent knows, kids have a lot of energy. But have no fear…from dance classes to perfecting math skills to fun and engaging activities in preschool, these top spots will keep your kiddos busy and active. Oh, do you have a four-legged, furry kid? We’ve even got a place that will pamper your pooch.

Best Place to Spoil Your Pet
LuLu & Luigi

White Bear Lake neighbors picked LuLu & Luigi as top dog for pampering our beloved pets. With the grooming parlor’s wide variety of luxurious services and the in-store bakery selection of organic, tasty treats, our dogs (and other pets) are bound to feel the love.
Runners up: Chuck & Don’s, Goldwood Kennels

LuLu and Luigi employee Anna O’Brien poses with store manager Jenna Strutt’s dog, Wolfgang.

LuLu and Luigi employee Anna O’Brien poses with store manager Jenna Strutt’s dog, Wolfgang.

Best Preschool/Childcare
Lake Area Discovery Center

White Bear Lake readers are clearly confident in the childcare Lake Area Discovery Center provides to our littlest ones. Serving children ages 6 weeks through 5 years old, the school takes pride in its high-quality programming. And they have credentials to back it up: LADC is accredited through NAEYC and is 4 Star Parent Aware rated.
Runners up: Frassati Catholic Academy, Children’s Discovery Academy

Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel
Goldwood Kennels

We hold our pets close to our hearts and so does Goldwood Kennels. The doggy daycare team enjoys keeping our pooches safe and happy while we’re away. With two supervisors, Shelly and Judy, part of the team for 28 years, and other employees on board for more than 10 years, their commitment to care speaks for itself. “It’s just amazing and wonderful to see how much they really are passionate and dedicated to their jobs and taking care of the pets here,” says Tony Hilton, who owns Goldwood Kennels with family members Cliff, Joan and Erin Hilton.
Runners up: Oneka Pet Resort, Birch Lake Animal Hospital

Best Place for Kids’ Activities
4th Street Dance Centre

4th Street Dance Centre keeps kiddos of all ages in step. The dance classes range in styles and are infused with depth. “We teach more than just dance,” studio owner Carol Anderson says. Students will also learn how to be respectful, work in groups and follow instruction.
Runners up: Flips, White Bear Area YMCA

Best Veterinary Clinic
White Bear Animal Hospital

At White Bear Animal Hospital, Dr. Stuart Dalton says the hospital has this motto: We treat your pets like they’re our own. “We do our best to live up to it every day with every patient and every client,” Dalton adds.
Runners up: Birch Lake Animal Hospital, Lake Animal Hospital

Best Learning/Tutoring Center

Mathnasium keeps White Bear Lake students’ arithmetic game in tiptop shape. Meeting students wherever their math abilities are, the learning center keeps its tutoring focus strictly on numbers. Center owner and director Peter Atakpu sums it up: “We say, just like going to the gym to exercise your body, you come to Mathnasium to develop and exercise your mind.”
Runners up: LearningRx, Tutor Time

Editor’s Pick
Best Storyteller: David LaRochelle

To author David LaRochelle, writing has been part of his life since as far back as he can remember. In the second grade, his teacher, who undoubtedly saw preternatural storytelling acumen in the young David, saved a story he had written and sent it to him many years later. “By the time I was in fifth grade I was writing and illustrating my own magazine, Rhyme Time,” says LaRochelle. This spark, this ability to encapsulate silliness and profundity into a few perfectly crafted sentences and illustrations per page, has garnered LaRochelle numerous awards and commendations, including three Minnesota Book Awards for children’s literature, the Sid Fleischman Award for humor writing, and numerous children’s choice awards. We chatted with the prolific LaRochelle and picked his brain about just how he does what he does.

How many books have you written/illustrated?

I’ve had about 30 books published…but I’ve written many more stories that have never been published. When I visit schools to talk to kids I often show them the 198 (and counting!) rejection letters I’ve received over the past 28 years. In 2016 I will have two new picture books out: Monster & Son in April and This is NOT a Cat! in August. It’s always exciting when a new book is released.

What is your daily writing schedule?
If I don’t write first thing in the morning, it doesn’t get done. I might start the day by swimming at the Y, but then I spend the rest of the morning/afternoon working on my latest book project. Even though creating books for children is what I want to do most in life, I still have to consciously make it a priority each day, otherwise I can find a million other things to fill my time.

Where do your story ideas come from?
They can come from anywhere, from things that I’ve actually experienced to complete figments of my mind. Moo! was inspired by a cow noisemaker I received as a gift. The Best Pet of All was an entry I wrote for a contest asking for a story in 500 words or less.

Where do you write?
My favorite place to write is in a comfortable chair next to my gas fireplace with a can of Pepsi and a plate of chocolate chip cookies at my side.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in Dellwood the month before daughter Scottie’s birth. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in Dellwood the month before daughter Scottie’s birth. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

A Legend Among Us

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s visits to the White Bear Lake-area. By Sara Markoe Hanson

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in the fall of 1896 in St. Paul. The family moved often during Scott’s childhood, which gave him a variety of experiences in New York and Minnesota to use in his writing and likely created the wanderlust he never outgrew.

Scott’s passion for writing was ignited early and he wrote throughout his school days. After brief stints at both Princeton and with the United States Army at the end of the Great War, he met and married Zelda Sayre.

The local lore regarding the Fitzgerald family’s connection to the White Bear area is a bit muddled. Fitzgerald and friends performed his play, The Coward, at the White Bear Yacht Club in 1913. His return to the club nearly a decade later was regarded to be a bit more scandalous.

In 1921, Scott and Zelda returned to Minnesota to prepare for the birth of their daughter Scottie. The expectant couple is said to have rented a private cottage in Dellwood for the coming year. Rumors abound, but it is said their carelessness allegedly allowed a water pipe to freeze and they were forced to move to St. Paul after just a few months.

The following summer the Fitzgerald family stayed at the White Bear Yacht Club, but was again asked to leave. Before returning to the East, Scott wrote the short story, Winter Dreams, depicting the tale of a Dexter Green, a young caddy at the Black Bear Yacht Club. The themes of Winter Dreams would later be further developed in The Great Gatsby.

While their time here was somewhat brief, Scott and Zelda certainly hold a place in the lore of our community. The legacy of Scott’s writings has brought a bit of Jazz Age notoriety to the quiet Dellwood shore.


Looking for a sassy new haircut to put a little spring in your step or a facial to put your best face forward? Or, perhaps, you’re in need of some expert advice to make sure you’re on the right path to financial freedom. Here are your top picks for services in White Bear Lake.

Best Financial Advisor
Craig Drake: Principal Financial Group

When planning for a financial future, our readers have confidence in Craig Drake’s financial guidance because he has our interests as top priority. “I listen and take a holistic approach to help people accomplish their financial goals,” Drake says.
Runners up: Chuck Edson: Edward Jones; Ken Galloway: Principal Financial Group

Craig Drake, your pick for Best Financial Advisor, looking dapper.

Craig Drake, your pick for Best Financial Advisor, looking dapper.

Best Insurance Agent
Jan Johnson: State Farm Insurance

At Jan Johnson’s office, your phone calls will always be answered. Johnson provides her customers excellent, friendly and reliable service, alongside an education in the best insurance coverage that meets their individual needs. In 28 years in business, Johnson has upheld a consistent presence in White Bear Lake, taking genuine care of her clients, serving them always with integrity. “We may not always give them the answers they want to hear, but will always do the right thing—the best thing for them.”
Runners up: John Matschke: State Farm Insurance; McNamara Company

Best Law Firm

Clients come first at GDO Law (formerly Geck Duea & Olson). Successfully striving to be helpful and approachable, the folks at GDO Law make time for their clients and uphold the golden rule of customer service.
Runners up: Fleming Law, Sheila J. Kelly Law Firm

Best Salon/Spa
Sunbear Salon & Medspa

In addition to providing the latest styles and techniques in haircuts and hair-related services, Sunbear Salon & Medspa also offers a wide array of medspa services in their beautiful, up-scale salon. From laser skin rejuvenation to medical facial peels to microdermabrasion and Botox injections, the professionals at Sunbear Salon & Medspa will have you looking great in no time.
Runners up: Indulge, beKind Salon & Spa

Best Hairstylist/Barber
Samantha Fritze: Sunbear Salon & Medspa

Whether you are finessing your everyday look or dolling up for another grand party, Samantha Fritze will keep your cut in tune with the times. “My clients are my first priority,” Fritze says. Specializing in short hairstyles for both ladies and gentlemen, her styling service is highly coveted around town.
Runners up: Carol Fackler: beKIND Salon & Spa; Malerie Iaizzo: beKIND Salon & Spa

Best Esthetician
Ann Vaughn: Sunbear Salon & Medspa

White Bear Lake readers clearly love Ann Vaughn—and she loves them back. Working as an esthetician since 1993, she loved the work then and loves it even more today. Specializing in eyebrow and Brazilian waxing, Vaughn is honored that her ladies trust her with the intimate job. “It’s a simple gesture,” Vaughn says. “I know it makes them feel better and it makes me feel better that they feel better.”
Runners up: Julie Epstein: Indulge; Susannah Courteau: Sunbear Salon & Medspa

Many thanks to the WBLAHS and the fine folks who helped us with the photo shoot at the historic Fillebrown House.


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