New faces representing companies old and new attended The Topeka Capital-Journal's 28th Best of Topeka event Thursday evening.
Among the more than 500 people who attended the event held at Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Mayetta to see which businesses were voted the capital city's best and brightest were first-timers Jeff Luoma, owner of AAMCO Transmissions and Total Car Care; his wife, Julie; and their daughter Savannah.
Jeff Luoma runs the Topeka AAMCO location at 3319 S. Kansas Ave., specializing in transmissions but also doing other repairs.
Topeka AAMCO was nominated for Best Transmission Service, and Luoma arrived feeling pretty good about his business' chances of being voted the Best of Topeka in that category.
"We're excited to see who's No. 1," he said. "We feel we are No. 1, so we should be No. 1."
Sure enough, the business was revealed as top dog.
Kevin Colhouer, owner of Darrell's Service, 4300 S.W. 21st, was another new attendee to the event, which saw about 100 businesses represented.
The family-owned automotive service shop of more than 50 years was nominated in four categories and took home Best of Topeka in two: Best Auto Repair Shop and Best Place for an Oil Change.
"It's a tribute to what we've tried to do over the years, as well as our customer base," said Colhouer, a lifelong Topekan who took over the business from his father, Darrell Colhouer, in 2001.
Brooke Rose, owner of The Groom Shack, 518 N.W. Gordon, opened her pet grooming business in January after working in the field in Topeka for close to 10 years. On Thursday, she took second runner-up in the Best Place for Pet Care category.
"(This event) is a chance to show off my business, meet new people and jut get an all around feel for what it's like to be a business owner in Topeka," said Rose, who said she does a lot of mohawks on dogs and most frequently handles poodles, Shih Tzu and Yorkshire terriers.
Among other new businesses honored this year was The Pennant, which topped the Best New Business and Best Downtown Restaurant/Retail categories.
"We're just trying to provide a good product for Topeka and excited to join downtown and all the local businesses down there," said executive chef Pedro Concepcion. "Things are going very well. Topeka has come out and support us a lot. We're overwhelmed with how much business we've gotten."
The Best of Topeka event recognized the top three finalists and winner in 141 separate categories. This year featured 30 new categories.
Two rounds of public voting took place this year from April to June. About 355,000 nominations and votes were recorded.
Want to know all of the winners and runners-up? A full-color, 79-page magazine will come with this Sunday's edition of The Capital-Journal.