Small Business Awards 2013

Small Business Awards 2013

Bayview martial arts, Mission pan dulce, Chinatown foodies, sexy snaps, and more make the scene in this year's tribute to creative entrepreneurship


Welcome to a tradition we hold near and dear at the Guardian — our annual round-up of independent businesses that represent the best of entrepreneurship here in the Bay. From a local sweet shop that's defied the Nestle odds to become the Bay's best-loved ice cream treat to the Castro's best new spot for punting and catching, read on for our favorite small businesses now.



Small Business Awards 2013: Shameless Photography

You chose body-positive boudoir shots for this year's Reader's Choice Award


Y'all chose Shameless as your top small biz of the year, so I'm going to yield the floor for a moment to someone who voted for the photography outfit:

"Shameless is a female-owned and run business that promotes positive body image and self love while creating spectacular pin-up and boudoir images," wrote one enraptured Bay Guardian reader. "Women (myself included) leave the studio feeling more beautiful and accepting of their bodies."Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013: Babette

A commitment to homegrown style won this year's Local Manufacturing Award


I cannot help but insert italics into Babette Pinsky quotes, bear with me.

"It didn't dawn on me that I shouldn't open a business by myself."

"It was sort of survival for a really long time."

"We have to show things the way we want them."

Perhaps such signs of effusiveness are befitting for one of the Bay's more experienced purveyors of fashion.Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013: It's-It

Golden Survivor Award indeed -- these icecream sandwiches have been around for 85 years


What's been San Francisco's go-to cold 'n creamy treat for the past 85 years? No, its not Dianne Feinstein. It's It's-It, that native warm weather snack, created on a deliciously fateful day in 1928 when George Whitney squished a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two big oatmeal cookies and dipped the resulting sandwich into dark chocolate. For more than four decades, Whitney sold his It's-Its at Playland-at-the-Beach, until that legendary local amusement park was demolished in the 1970s. Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013: R&G Lounge

Chinatown's special occasion standby takes home our Employee-Friendly Busines Award


The R & G Lounge has been a fixture in San Francisco's Chinatown for 28 years. Taking up three floors with a seating capacity of 225, it's served as the backdrop for many a wedding rehearsal dinner, birthday celebration, and other special occasion bashes. But it isn't just heartwarming memories of being surrounded by friends and family with a pleasant Tsingtao buzz that linger in diners' minds. Just as often, it's the taste of the establishment's signature seafood plate: salt and pepper live Dungeness crab.Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013: Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

An ecological philosophy and innovative tactics earned these community-builders our Small Business Advocate Award


The folks at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies were locavores before the fancy foodies ever created that word. They were talking about a new economy more than a decade ago — and their vision involves networks that are human, not just electronic.

BALLE is the heart of the movement for localism, for building economies based on communities.

Founded in 2001 by Judy Wicks, who owned a restaurant in Philadelphia, and Laury Hammel, who owned a group of sports clubs in Boston, the group has expanded to a national operation with one of its two main offices in Oakland.Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013: La Victoria Bakery

An uncanny ability to move with the times earned our Legacy Award for this Mission stalwart


When Jaime Maldonado's dad Gabriel opened the family's corner bakery in 1951, it was the only Latino-owned business on 24th Street. In the years since, the story of La Victoria and its famous pan dulce has become, more or less, the story of the Mission District.Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013: Hi Tops

The city's first gay sports bar hits a homerun with our Culture Champion Award


Would there have been a better time for an explicitly gay sports bar to open in SF than late 2012? You can bet your sweet basketballs there would not. First the Giants win the World Series, packing Castro's spanking new Hi Tops with fans eager for some specialty drafts, juicy burgers, and same-sex camaraderie. The Niners hit the Super Bowl, and a groundbreaking pic of kissing male fans in Hi Tops' gorgeously retro ball-court-locker room interior runs in Sports Illustrated. Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013: Universal Martial Arts

The winners of our Community Service Award teach cops how to serve and protect, safely

Police officers and security guards get trained in the use of firearms and batons; they know how to hurt and sometimes kill people. But most of them don't get the sort of basic unarmed self-defense training that would allow them to subdue an assailant without dangerous or lethal force.

That's where Universal Martial Arts Academy comes in. The only martial arts school with a full-time facility in the Bayview, Universal specializes in self-defense classes for security professionals and also offers classes for the general public.Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013: Mothership HackerMoms

Our Women in Business Award recipients make space for working mommas


It should be no surprise that here in the veritable center of the tech universe, we hear the word "hackerspace" and flash on a roomful of programmers, busily coding the building blocks of our Internet universe.

But a group of East Bay women have taken the term's original meaning (as codified by Germany's Chaos Communication Club in the 1990s) and applied the concept of open community lab to the experience of professional mamas.Read more »