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favorite place to work

Bon Secours Richmond Health System has been voted the best place to work if you have kids by Richmond parents. With three hospitals in the Richmond area and another on the way, Bon Secours is one of Richmond’s largest employers. And for its employees with families, it is a fabulous place to work.

Bon Secours offers working moms and dads flexible schedules, on-site or nearby daycare, preschool and kindergarten, as well as youth programs and summer camps. Bon Secours spokeswoman Jodi Challen says nursing staff have the option to work for only nine months out of the year so they can be on the same schedule as their children, or they can work three days a week and still be considered full-time employees.

But aside from all the benefits employees receive, Challen says Bon Secours is a great family employer because of “our dedication to finding ways to balance work and life.” — Ellis Harman



favorite dentist

Despite being part of a group practice – 28 dentists in seven offices – Christopher Cios has been singled out as Richmond’s best. Cios moved to Richmond in 1984 to attend dental school and began practicing in 1988. During his third year of college he abandoned his architecture major and began the pursuit of a career in dentistry. “I could build you a house,” says Cios. “I just couldn’t guarantee you that it would stay up.” Although Cios doesn’t specialize in pediatric dentistry, he does see a large number of pint-sized patients in addition to his fully-grown ones. Cios says he firmly believes being a good dentist is all in the attitude. “If you can roll with the punches without getting stressed, I think that makes you a better dentist,” he says. – Susan Robertson



favorite restaraunt for a date without kids

Complete with candles, flowers and white linen, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse has been voted Richmond’s best romantic restaurant getaway without the kids. Located in a circa 1732 house full of original artifacts, Ruth’s Chris provides the right combination of atmosphere and elegance.

Along with the main dining room, Ruth’s Chris has a two-seater Anniversary Room for couples to share special moments together. The lights dim, the candles glow and the doors close.

“We’ve had a lot of proposals in this room,” says Melissa Wood, the marketing director of Ruth’s Chris.

But the romantic setting isn’t all this restaurant has to offer — Ruth’s Chris also can cook up a mean steak.

If you’re not in the mood for steak, the kitchen staff also serves entrees of lamb, veal, pork and seafood in its trademarked ovens.

Wood says she thinks “it’s just the whole experience” that makes the steakhouse a hit.

Couples can expect to foot a bill anywhere from $75 to $100. But, Wood says , it’s well worth the money.

“You will get excellent food,” she says.— Mary Patterson
Susan Robertson contributed to this story.




favorite pediatric group

Situated on the corner of Patterson Avenue and Three Chopt Road, Triangle Park houses the main office of the Pediatric Associates of Richmond Inc., the best pediatric group in the city according to Richmonders. The practice was moved to Triangle Park from Kensington Avenue in 1986. After four expansions the office occupied the entire first floor of the building as well as two upstairs offices. In 1998, a second smaller branch opened at Memorial Regional Hospital in Mechanicsville. Both offices have extended hours — 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. five days a week, and until noon on Saturday — to cater to the needs of their patients. The Pediatric Associates of Richmond Inc. receives approximately 5,000 office visits per month and the 10 doctors and four nurse practitioners also are available by phone 24 hours a day. “When people come here, they come to see Pediatric Associates, not just to see one doctor,” says Senior Dr. William Lake Curry. – Susan Robertson



favorite maternity store

Open for less than a year, Pickles & Ice Cream already has become Richmond’s favorite maternity store. The store at 3140-A W. Cary St. opened its doors in November 2003. As for the name, store manager Anne Kenneth attributes it to the stereotypical cravings of “pickles and ice cream” women have during pregnancy. Carrying a variety of unique clothing that Kenneth calls “trendier and more stylish” than most maternity clothes, the shop provides an alternative to mall shopping. However the clothing is not the only unique thing the store has to offer. “We take women around the store and help them to create their maternity wardrobe,” says Kenneth. A member of the Pickles & Ice Cream staff always will be there to greet you at the door, ready and willing to help you navigate the racks. – Susan Robertson



favorite live theater

Theatre IV is the favorite spot in Richmond to enjoy live theater, according to Family Style readers. The nonprofit theater company has been providing countless hours of entertainment to youngsters and their families for 28 years and is still going strong.

The Theatre IV season, which runs October through May, is filled with plays based on popular children’s books such as Natalie Babbitt’s “Tuck Everlasting,” which will be performed in October. This season also will introduce an original Theatre IV screenplay, “Sing Down the Moon,” a musical based on Appalachian fairy tales. It’s kid-friendly productions that have made Theatre IV Richmond’s favorite, says Tammy Shackelford, the theater’s director of communications and public relations.

“Parents know that if they come to our productions the shows will be appropriate for children, they are going to have a good time and they are going to see a great, quality production,” she says. “Theatre IV is a great way to see the world without leaving Richmond.” — Ellis Harman



favorite coach

The walls of Jim Holdren’s den are lined with awards.

The 61-year-old has been coaching sports for almost 40 years. Currently, he coaches track and cross country for both boys and girls and serves as the co-athletic director at the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School. Holdren says he’s excited to be voted as Richmond’s best coach.

“That’s very flattering and humbling. It’s very rewarding and a little overwhelming,” he says. Holdren is quick to share the spotlight noting that he would not have come so far without great kids, parental support and support from administration.

He says he believes that participating in sports teaches high school students social skills, ethics and goal setting — all life skills.

“We live in a competitive society, yet we all have to live together with values and ethics,” he says. “I think sports teaches that.”

Holdren says he maintains lasting relationships with his students.

“I have two children by blood, but I have thousands of children,” he says. “I still receive Father’s Day cards from kids I coached in the ‘60s.”— Mary Patterson



favorite theater

Multiple movie screens may be enticing but our readers have voted the Byrd Theatre their favorite movie theater.

The Byrd, a lavishly decorated movie palace offering commercial movies at a discount, has been a Richmond tradition since 1928. Located in the heart of Carytown, it entertains about 6,000 people a week. Sadly, there has been talk that the landmark was in danger of closing.

“There is no immediate concern for the Byrd Theatre to close. No one is looking for it to be closed,” says Dwayne Nelson, president of Nelson Communications, the company that owns the Byrd. In fact, the Byrd is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation and is going to change ownership.

“I felt the best vehicle for taking the Byrd Theatre to the future was to form a foundation,” says Nelson.

The Byrd Theatre Foundation is in charge of restoring the Byrd, replacing seats and installing a new old-fashioned marquee. Nelson will oversee the project.

“I love the Byrd Theatre,” he says. “I think it’s a big asset to Richmond. Carytown is a big asset to Richmond.”— Mary Patterson



favorite youth group

In the past two years, West End Assembly of God’s youth group, SEEK, has seen its membership explode. “Maybe [we’re] a place where kids knew there was a sense of community,” says Micah Voraritskul, WEAG’s youth pastor.

For 18-year-old Morgan McCrocklin, the group is like a second family. “When somebody’s hurting, everybody’s hurting.”

SEEK, taken from their motto, “Real people who seek God and serve others,” was established in 1998. The goal of the group, Voraritskul explains, is for members to acknowledge God and to establish a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ.

“It’s so awesome to watch people discover who God is and how they play into his whole purpose and his whole plan,” says Marti Michalec, a youth leader.

Fifteen-year-old Chase Duncan agrees and adds, “When you leave you feel really good about Christianity and your purpose with God.”

The themes of community and family are important to the group. “We definitely preach belonging before believing,” Voraritskul says. “You belong here, your love is accepted here, even if you don’t believe in God yet.”

To Justin Sledd, 17, SEEK is not like most church groups. “It’s more like a community of believers and the church just supports what we do,” he says. “If you took away everything, we’d still be a community of faith.”

For more information, visit their Web site at www.weag.org/seek.









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