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Best of Colorado 2015

Mike Taylor //June 22, 2015//

Best of Colorado 2015

Mike Taylor //June 22, 2015//

Each issue of ColoradoBiz, we’re faced with deciding which businesses to highlight within our finite pages, based mostly on accomplishment, community significance and perceived reader interest. In this inaugural Best of Colorado–Readers’ Choice supplement, we’ve taken it out of editors’ hands and left it to readers to tell us their top places to do business, from banks to dry cleaners to coffee shops to fitness clubs.

To help us identify these businesses, we enlisted DataJoe, a third-party research firm that set up an online voting process that ran several months to identify winners and runners-up in 62 categories. Participants were asked to vote for the companies they’d trust to take care of their colleagues and friends and were required to vote in at least 10 categories. In another measure to minimize purely self-interested ballots, participants were allowed to vote for their own company once, but were also required to vote for at least two other companies in that category.

The result of this peer-generated list is an interesting mix of usual-suspect national names and lesser-known local gems. (Who knew Continental Sausage was a go-to spot for team-building tours, or that Mike Wright Gallery in LoDo – voted Best Gallery for Public Art – is a happenin’ spot for browsers and buyers, with 15 percent off wine on “Buy the Bottle Wednesdays”?)

We hope you find some new places to check out, or services that may help your own business pursuits, on following pages. And thanks to our readers who participated and made this special section happen.



Denver-based EKS&H is the largest public accounting firm headquartered in the Rocky Mountain region. It helps companies with everything from audits and taxes to stock transactions and wage studies. The firm, founded in 1978, includes “integrity and ethical values” and “commitment to clients” among its core values. Client testimonials rave about the consultants’ technical knowledge, competence and customer service.

Runners-up: Anton Collins Mitchell LLP, Dalby, Wendland & Co. P.C.


Alpine Bank

Employee-owned Alpine Bank opened on the Western Slope more than 40 years ago and is now based in Glenwood Springs. There are 38 locations, including one that opened near Union Station in Denver in 2014, and 130,000 customers. Since 2006, Alpine Bank has earned and maintains ISO 14001 certification, the universally recognized standard for environmental management.

Runners-up: FirstBank of Colorado (1st Bank),
Wells Fargo Bank


Bellco Credit Union

Employees of the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company started Bellco Credit Union in 1936. Today anyone who lives in Denver or in one of a dozen cities
or counties in Colorado can open accounts at Greenwood Village-based Bellco, whose tagline is “Banking for everyone.” Bellco has $2.9 billion in assets and more than 248,000 members. Green efforts include discontinuing the use of deposit envelopes in ATMs and sending 80,000 customers’ statements electronically. 

Runners-up: Elevations Credit Union, Public Service Credit Union


Foundry Group

Every story has a theme, and as it turns out, so does every investment. Boulder-based Foundry Group invests in early-stage information technology, Internet and software startups, and focuses on six themes. Those themes have names like Glue, Digital Life and Protocol, and refer to the various sectors. Investments start as small as $250,000.

Runners-up: Access Venture Partners, Colorado Impact Fund


Brown & Tedstrom Inc.

It takes a team to design a client’s financial future. Brown & Tedstrom in downtown Denver serves each client with a team of credentialed financial strategists including a firm partner, a client relationship manager, an investment specialist and skilled administrative and  marketing professionals. The firm even has proprietary, trademarked tools such as the Retirement Shock Absorber and the Withdrawal Stress Test, to help individuals handle the ups and downs of retirement planning.

Runners-up: Alpine Bank, Edward Jones


Centennial Bank

If anyone knows anything about 7a, 504, and Cap-Lines, it is Centennial Bank. The Denver-based lender won the 2014 Emerging Small Business Lender Award from Colorado Lending Source, a not-for-profit that works with lenders and small businesses. Centennial Bank has 14 locations, including Conifer, Evergreen, Golden, Idaho Springs and Nederland, five branches that parent company CIC Bancshares Inc. acquired from Mutual of Omaha Bank in 2014.

Runners-up: Colorado Lending Source Ltd., Wells Fargo Bank


Shaw Construction

Even though Shaw Construction is based in Denver, much of its work is in mountain communities, starting with the Aspen hotel Little Nell in the 1960s. More recently the firm renovated the Vail Mountain Lodge in Vail and the St. Regis Hotel in Aspen. Also, in Boulder, Shaw construction recently renovated the University of Colorado Folsom Field Stadium and added 1,900 club seats, 41 luxury suites and a large club/banquet facility.

Runners-up: Roche Constructors Inc., Brinkman Partners


OZ Architecture

The portfolio of Denver-based OZ architecture ranges from Fire Station No. 18 in the Lowry neighborhood to The Nickel restaurant at Hotel Teatro to the offices for the apparel company SmartWool in Steamboat Springs. This year OZ won an award in the Infill category for Aria Apartments, built on the site of a former convent and Catholic girls’ school. Current projects include 250 Columbine, a condominium project in Cherry Creek.

Runners-up: EVstudio, Stream Design Landscape Architecture



Anyone who walks across Denver’s Millennium Bridge or drives on the Speer Boulevard bridge might appreciate one of SSG MEP Inc.’s specialties: lighting design. The Aurora-based firm also specializes in mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering. SSG MEP’s expertise includes health care, education, municipal, aviation, transportation and commercial design, and is currently working on the DIA –STRP Westin Hotel, the CDOT I-70 peak period shoulder lane, and RTD North Metro Light Rail, among other projects.

Runners-up: CH2M Hill, EVstudio


Shaw Construction

Denver-based Shaw Construction has a mission to be a world-class construction company, and to create buildings and relationships that last. Among some of the recent buildings are 2020 Lawrence Residences, which is LEED GOLD Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and One Observatory Park, a 213-unit building near the University of Denver. Client testimonials mention Shaw’s ability to meet deadlines and budgets and its collaborative way of working. 

Runner-up: HITT Contracting


Eheart Interior Solutions

Eheart creates interior spaces for homes and businesses, and reassures customers that the process will give them peace of mind and the rooms of their dreams. Over the years Flooring America, which provides carpet, hardwood floors and other products, has awarded the Fort Collins-based Eheart with numerous National Service Awards, which recognize high levels of customer satisfaction. In 2005, the Northern Colorado Home Builders’ Association named Eheart Associate of
the Year.

Runners-up: Aneka Interiors, Slifer Designs


Designs by Sundown

No yard is too small or too big for Englewood-based Designs by Sundown, which works on everything from apartment rooftops to multi-acre estates. Many of the customers have had work done at high-end properties, as most of the positive reviews mention Roxborough, Cherry Hills and other upscale neighborhoods. Designs by Sundown handles architecture and structures too, and builds patios, waterscapes, and outdoor kitchens. Sustainability efforts include using new technology to reduce water usage.

Runners-up: Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care; American Design and Landscape.


(Tie) Alpine Bank and 8z Mortgage

Many of Alpine Bank’s locations are in resort communities, so the Glenwood Springs-based lender offers the Alpine Portfolio Mortgage. The specialized program is targeted to buyers of primary homes as well as people who want to buy large acreage, resort condominiums and  “condo-tels.” The bank continued to support communities during the economic downturn, according to one testimonial, and other testimonials point to the bank’s community-oriented service.

Locally owned 8z Mortgage has five locations staffed by five loan officers who, according to one testimonial, are “truly fixing real estate.” The Boulder-based  lender does all its underwriting and closing in-house, allowing it more control over the process and better communication with borrowers. There is also 8z Real Estate, but customers can use their own real estate professionals if they want.

Runners-up: Coldwell Banker Mortgage, Cherry Creek Mortgage Denver West


SummitCove Vacation Rentals

The vacation property management company SummitCove began in 2001 in Summit Cove, a neighborhood two miles from Keystone Resort. The service matches condo owners with vacationers looking for lodging, without the parties having to meet to hand over keys. The SummitCove office is now located at Keystone. Online reviews mention helpful staff and a wide variety of accommodations to suit different price ranges.

Runners-up: Mission Rock Residential, Real Property Management



Coldwell Banker

The Madison, N.J.-based Coldwell Banker has several offices in Colorado. One of the newest offices, located in downtown Denver, is Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance, which services small to midsize businesses. Clients range from startups to multi-market companies. The office provides financing for clients to buy multifamily, office, retail and other properties through partner ReadyCap Commercial. The office also offers property management and investment sales.

Runners-up: Column Commercial Partners; Jones, Lang LaSalle


Coldwell Banker

With 16 offices, and more than 1,000 independent sales associates serving the communities along Colorado’s Front Range, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage provides residential and commercial services along with relocation, mortgage, title, home warranty and insurance coverage. Through its Coldwell Banker Previews program, the brokerage has expertise in the luxury housing market. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is part of NRT LLC, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company.

Runners-up: 8Z Real Estate, RE/MAX Professionals


Shaw Construction

Homes by Shaw is the luxury homes division of Denver-based Shaw Construction. The company has built more than 100 luxury homes, including several estates in excess of $35 million, mostly in Aspen and Vail. The homes often include equestrian centers, swimming pools, and guest complexes.

Runners-up: Oakwood Homes LLC, Classic Homes


Land Title Guarantee Co.

Land Title, which is based in Cherry Creek and has 45 locations statewide, has always been a technologically advanced service provider. In 1967, soon after Land Title opened its office in Denver with five employees, the company developed a computer system that could generate 32 title searches in less than three minutes. Today Land Title offers the LTGConnect app, which helps real estate professionals keep in touch with their clients.

Runners-up: Guardian Title Agency LLC, 8z Title



Cactus developed the Good to Know campaign, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s effort to promote the safe, legal and responsible use of retail marijuana. The ads inform people that they may not use the drug in public and encourage people to lock up their inventory. The agency, located in Lower Downtown, also does the ads for Colorado Lottery and for Colorado HealthOP, the nonprofit health insurance co-op.

Runners-up: ToolBox Creative, Automated Marketing Group



PHOCO is a collaborative of photographers, videographers and graphic designers in Fort Collins. The team can do everything from documenting a company meeting to redesigning a company logo to developing video for a business’ website. They even do wedding photos and senior (students about to graduate) photos. The firm’s specialty is providing creative services to companies that want the expertise but are not big enough to hire an in-house team.

Runners-up: Harper Point Photography, Custom Creations Photography, Rockin’ Media


Dependable Cleaners

Dependable Cleaners is celebrating 85 years serving the Front Range. Now in its third generation of local family ownership, Dependable uses environmentally sound practices including chemical-free cleaning, organic dry cleaning solvents, and recycling all of its packaging materials.  Dependable offers free pickup and delivery services, extended hours, and same-day pickup at its 25 locations. The company just entered into an agreement with the largest cleaning equipment manufacturer in the world to retool the entire chain with state-of-the-art, custom-made, environmentally responsible cleaning machines.

Runners-up: Comet Cleaners, Green Care Cleaners


Madison Insurance Group

Denver-based Madison Insurance Agency LLC is a full service property and casualty insurance agency that offers all lines of insurance through multiple A + rating insurance companies. Its specialty is commercial insurance for businesses including general liability, professional liability errors & omissions, auto, worker’s compensation, property insurance and all types of bonding. The firm also provides cyber liability insurance policies to protect against data breaches.

Runners-up: IMA Inc., Equisure Inc.


Messner Reeves LLP

With offices in Denver, Los Angeles and New York, Messner Reeves counsels clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to individual entrepreneurs. The firm has built a reputation for offering effective legal counsel, quick response, and professional integrity in a wide range of practice areas. This year, to celebrate its 20th year, the firm raffled off a Tesla automobile. Ticket proceeds went to the Messner Foundation, which awards scholarships to underprivileged high school students.

Runners-up: Gutterman Griffiths PC, Holland & Hart LLP


EON Office

Located in Denver, EON Office is a one-stop-shop for businesses; upon winning this Readers’ Choice distinction, the company stressed that it’s much more than a printer. EON provides office supplies, furniture and services. The WBE-certified company is a member of TriMega Purchasing Association, a national office products buying group, so EON is able to provide customers with cost savings as well as the personal service of a local company. It even responds to comments on Google Reviews, usually with a “thank you.”

Runners-up: YellowDog Printing and Graphics, AlphaGraphics


Linhart PR

In 2006 Linhart PR moved its office near the theater district in downtown Denver. The firm has worked with Zayo when it had its initial public offering during a turbulent stock market, got Crocs fans to rush to its defense in social media when news reports hinted at the shoe company’s demise, and got mommy bloggers to generate buzz about the Red Robin Kids’ Cook-Off. 

Runners-up: B Public Relations, Sprocket Communications



For companies that are too busy expanding to recruit, screen, hire, train and manage staff internally, Intellisource manages these efforts with customized processes. The firm helps businesses operate at their fullest potential with the right people at the right place at the right time. Intellisource uses what it calls IntelliFit to make sure the hire is a good fit in expertise and culturally.

Runners-up: Robert Half; Connections Training and Staffing Inc.


Kuni Lexus

Google reviews indicate that Kuni Lexus of Greenwood Village is the type of car dealership where salespeople do not pressure customers. That is important for any dealership, especially one in which people are spending $36,000 to $120,000 on a vehicle. The dealership, opened in 1991, offers chair massages, complimentary snacks, and iPads people can check out while they wait.

Runners-up: John Elway Chevrolet, Schomp Automotive


Snooze Eatery

Snooze was founded in 2006 on the ideas that breakfast marks the beginning of a new day, life is worth living, and it only takes a moment to make a difference. The places tries to make a difference not only by offering fresh twists on classic breakfast and brunch items, but also with its environmental efforts, which are different each month. (July is Energy, August is Compost). The Snooze’s mothership, or headquarters, are in RiNo, and there are now six locations in Colorado, two in California and two in Arizona.

Runners-up: Lucile’s Creole Cafe, The Egg & I


Floyd’s 99 Barbershop

The Greenwood Village-based Floyd’s 99 Barbershop has 84 shops across the U.S. The company’s tagline is, “Not your grandfather’s barbershop,” and the business model combines old-school client service with talented, expert staff. The locations are decorated with posters of rock stars. Customers can view their favorite stylist’s schedule online and make a reservation, or just walk in. Floyd’s also sells product and apparel.

Runners-up: Roosters Men’s Grooming Center, Cost Cutters, Proper Barbershop


(Tie) Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel, Renaissance Denver Hotel (at old Stapleton airport)

The Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel, which is in the former Colorado National Bank building on 17th Street, is rated Exceptional on Expedia, with 95 percent of guests recommending the place, and is ranked 18th out of 149 Denver hotels on TripAdvisor. Renaissance Denver Hotel, which is located on 38th and Quebec, was rated Very Good, recommended by 93 percent of guests, and ranked 25th of 149 Denver hotels on TripAdvisor.

Runners-up: Four Seasons Hotel, JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek, The Crawford Hotel, Warwick Denver Hotel


Range Restaurant

The signature restaurant at the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel is referred to as “saloon meets executive suite” by Zagat reviewers. Range Restaurant itself, in the former Colorado National Bank Building downtown, calls its cuisine New American West, which means the concept focuses on ingredients and cooking techniques of the Rocky Mountain region. The menu changes seasonally, and there are local beers and wines. Range Restaurant is also available for private functions, and the eatery will customize the menu for the group.

Runners-up: The Kitchen, BIN 707


Denver Air Connection

“Say no way to DIA!” this private air charter company trumpets on its website. The Denver Air Connection offers travel in a 30-seat Dornier Jet, 30-seat Brasilia, or a 19-seat Metroliner that the company says can be chartered for less cost per person than a full-fare on most airlines. This air travel service is provided in cooperation with the Charter Alliance Group.

   The Denver Air Connection is geared to the frequent business traveler tired of wasting countless hours at busy airports. Its charter program includes free parking (at most locations) and rental cars just outside the door of the plane’s destination. Offerings include traditional charters throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.



Elway’s Steakhouse

There are four locations of Elway’s Steakhouse: in the downtown Denver Ritz-Carlton, Cherry Creek, Vail, and DIA. Each restaurant can accommodate private parties with indoor and outdoor facilities with names such as the Hall of Fame Room and the Mile High Room, with audio/visual capabilities so participants can view a PowerPoint presentation while eating a USDA Prime hand-cut steak, or even seafood, pork, iceberg wedges, or other items.

Runners-up: Range Restaurant,
Ocean Prime


Footers Catering

Founded 1981 by Jimmy Lambatos, Footers Catering is a second-generation family business owned and operated by Jimmy’s son, Anthony, and Anthony’s wife, April. Known for its fresh foods cooked on-site, Footers offers a range of catering services for special events throughout the Denver metro area, Front Range and Colorado mountain regions.

   Menu options include American, Italian, Greek and Asian Fusion. Footers provides full-event coordination, with a staff of event planners who take care of weddings, private parties, holiday, corporate or charity events.

Runners-up: Biscuits & Berries, Epicurean Group


Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches

Serious about sandwich delivery, as its trademarked “Freaky fast! Freaky good!” motto suggests, Jimmy John’s delivers on both counts, and the minimum is just one sandwich. Its homemade French and seven-grain wheat bread is served freshly baked, and the all-natural meats and local veggies are sliced in-house daily.  Jimmy John’s also touts last-minute catering, offering customizable party platters, box lunches and jumbo party subs.

   The company was founded in 1983 by 19-year-old Jimmy John Liautaud in a converted garage in Charleston, Ill., with only a second-hand refrigerator, freezer, oven and meat slicer.  Jimmy John’s now boasts 2,000 locations in 43 states.

Runners-up: Panera Bread, Snarf’s Sub Shop



Colorado – and Denver in particular – is a recognized hotspot for small, independent coffee shops and roasters, but the consistency and efficiency of Starbucks still carries ample weight with coffee customers. Along with whole-bean coffee and microground instant coffee, most Starbucks stores also sell pre-packaged food items, full-leaf teas, hot and cold sandwiches and items such as mugs and tumblers. Starbucks Evenings locations also offer a variety of beers, wines and appetizers after 4 p.m. The Seattle-based company boasts 21,536 stores in 64 countries and territories, including 21,218 in the U.S.

Runners-up: Crema Coffee House, Dazbog Coffee


Quiero Arepas

Venezuela-born chef Igor Panasewicz and his wife, Beckie, own and operate this gourmet mobile food truck, offering up a Venezuelan experience with produce from local farmers and all-natural ingredients whenever possible (including a daily bread, smoked meats and local cheeses and vegetables), served hot and wrapped in foil. The menu changes daily, but there’s always a vegetarian or vegan option. For information on the whereabouts of Quiero Arepas or other local food trucks, check out the locator at

Runners-up: Steuben’s Food Truck, Comida Taco Truck, Crock Spot, Waffle Up


Arrowhead Golf Club

Nestled in the striking flat irons of Roxborough Park, Arrowhead Golf Club is a one-of-a-kind venue, with a majestic Colorado backdrop that makes it one of the country’s most photographed golf courses. The accessible mountain property is surrounded by extreme elevation changes, dramatic vistas and thousands of feet of ancient red sandstone rocks.

Arrowhead is a full-service meeting and special-event facility providing private meeting rooms and full on-site catering for weddings, business meetings, holiday parties and company socials.

Runners-up: Fossil Trace Golf Club, Ptarmigan Country Club, Redlands Mesa Golf Course, Willis Case Golf Course


Root Down

Nationally acclaimed Root Down offers seasonal cuisine with a locally sourced, field-to-fork mentality. Along with its flagship Highland location, the owners of this “sister” restaurant to the popular Linger in Highland have opened a second Root Down at Denver International Airport. Breakfast, lunch and dinner entree items include select raw foods, sandwiches, appetizers, soups, salads and desserts, as well as a wide selection of cocktails, wine, beer, sake and spirits. Said one Yelp reviewer of Root Down’s surging popularity: “It’s a tough place to get into right now, but well worth the wait.”

Runners-up: Linger; ViewHouse Eatery, Bar & Rooftop, Teller’s Taproom & Kitchen


Mile High Station

This historic building adjacent to Invesco Field at Mile High has been completely restored from the days when it employed hundreds of ironworkers as the Midwest Steel and Ironworks Building. These days it offers a landmark venue for every sort of event, from casual gathering to sales meeting.

Mile High Station can accomodate events from 100 to 1,200 guests, with total seating capacity for up to 550. The main floor has formal seating for 350 special guests, accentuated by the mezzanine level and its additional 200 seating capacity. The west patio holds 150 guests. In addition, the venue offers free parking for more than 200 vehicles.

Runners-up: Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel, Infinity Park Event Center



SAP-solutions provider NIMBL operates out of a building retrofitted from an old Phillips 66 gas station in the heart of Denver’s Santa Fe arts district. The old gas station’s convenience store was converted to a conference room, while the service bays remain in place.

The 13,000-square-foot space was redesigned by Denver architecture firm Studio H:T. NIMBL’s building also includes a yoga/massage room, barista bar, gym and ping-pong table. Upon hitting their one-year mark, NIMBL employees, who currently number 66 at the headquarters, are rewarded with a lime-green ergonomic chair.

Runners-up: Galvanize, Industry


Continental Sausage

So much for the adage, “I just want to eat the sausage; I don’t want to know how it’s made.” Continental Sausage has been producing European-style and gourmet sausages in Denver since 1969, and indeed, the company wants people to know exactly how its all-natural sausages are made. John Roelke, vice president of sales and marketing, introduced the tours five years ago and has welcomed a steady stream of visitors since.

   “People are very surprised at the high-end nature of our business and the exacting purchasing protocols,” Roelke says. “We fundamentally change what they think of sausage making. We pull the curtain back on the less than desirable methods used by most commodity-driven companies.  People are shocked to see artistry in a commodity-driven industry.”

Runners-up: Coors Field, Punch Bowl Social, Unser Karting and Events


The Cruise Room

Located on the ground floor of the historic Oxford Hotel at 1600 17th St., the Cruise Room was Denver’s first post-prohibition bar, opening the day after prohibition was repealed in 1933. The bar boasts an art deco style modeled after a lounge on the ocean liner Queen Mary and is known for its martinis. Its unique décor and cocktails created by in-house mixologists make it one of the premier downtown Denver bars.

Runners-up: Teller’s Taproom & Kitchen; Teller Bar


Woodhouse Day Spa

Woodhouse Day Spa is a franchise operation based in Victoria, Texas, posit