SOUTHINGTON — Hundreds of local businesses were recognized during the Record-Journal’s Readers’ Choice Awards ceremony on Thursday.
“We all know that local businesses drive our economy and for our readers, this program allows them to learn about their local businesses that we can count on for trusted products and services,” Record-Journal Publisher Liz White Notarangelo said.
The awards ceremony, held at the Aqua Turf, was a return to recognizing businesses in person after last year’s virtual ceremony. A red carpet welcomed more than 750 attendees and photographers buzzed through the crowd paparazzi-style.
Sapna Raghavan, Miss Connecticut 2021, announced the 217 winners in various categories.
“It was so great to have so many people from the business community come out and celebrate tonight,” Notarangelo said.
Record-Journal readers are invited to nominate businesses for the award in June, followed by two rounds of voting to narrow the nominees and select a winner. The top two finalists in each category are also recognized.
“It helps give the readers a voice in who the best businesses are in our community, so that we can help promote those businesses throughout the year. And what you end up seeing around … our local towns, is the banners in the windows that say ‘nominated as a readers’ choice business,’” Notarangelo said.
Being recognized as an award winner can be a boost for businesses, especially newer ones looking to get established in communities. John McCarthy, owner of Rock House School of Music, said being recognized as a top music school helped the Wallingford location, which opened in 2019.
“We did get a bump right afterwards,” McCarthy said.
Chris Wilson, owner of Ultra Coin Laundromat in Wallingford, said the atmosphere at the annual celebration makes it a highlight of his year.
“Me and my brother-in-law just got back from Vegas and this has a Vegas vibe to it. It really does, everybody’s excited, everybody’s friendly to each other and the vibe here is unbelievable,” he said.
Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ray Andrewsen called the awards ceremony the “ultimate networking event” for local businesses.
Mike Truss, owner of Craft Kitchen in Southington, gave credit to his employees for the recognition.
“It makes me think of the people that I pay the least that come in every day of the week and give it their all just to be a part of the system that lets us win an award,” he said. “We won best pizza in Southington and there’s no way we could do that without the least paid employee being on board with what we do.”