Kitty Sweet at the Black Watch Pub
There’s nothing like sliding up to the bar, ordering a Guinness and having a friendly face to chat with. As the super-slack pour takes place, bartender Kitty Sweet takes part in the ritual of any English pub worth its crisps. Aside from the futbol on the telly, darts, pool, pinball, video beer pong and live music on weekends, the place offers the bartender you’re sure to leave sweet on. And she genuinely is a sweet woman. Kitty, we may have made your day when you learned our readers voted you Best Bartender, but you make our nights when you show us how happy you are to make sure our drinks are served up the right way. You go, girl! (Arrissia Owen Turner)
The Black Watch Pub, 497 N. Central Ave., Upland, (909) 981-6069.
Partnering with the city of Ontario, Mercy House has been able to provide housing and supportive services for a variety of homeless populations. The charity works with families and those struggling with HIV/AIDS, overcoming substance abuse or who are disabled. With cooperation from Ontario, Mercy House has been able to better serve those in the Inland Empire. The organization now has three facilities in the area. (Lynn Lieu)
Mercy House, 905 E. Holt Blvd., Ontario, (909) 391-2630; www.mercyhouse.net.
David Avalos of Riverside Community College District Culinary Academy
Chef David Avalos’ easy-going demeanor helps him to train many future epicureans for the Riverside Community College District. And apparently the academy’s assistant professor/instructor is hot stuff at what he does because, despite the academy being on the brink of closure seven years ago because of those pesky state budget cuts, the academy won a national award from the American Culinary Foundation in 2009. Bon appétit. (AOT)
Whether it’s for work or play, Downtown Riverside has been at the center of the Inland Empire for years, so it only makes sense that you voted it the Best Downtown in the IE. While some restaurants down Main Street close at odd hours catering to the businessmen and women of Downtown, the area offers a variety of after hours events, including the Riverside Arts Walk held every first Thursday of the month, Movies and Music on Main with free movies shown every second and fourth Thursday and music every third Thursday of the month. (LL)
Riverside Downtown Partnership, 3666 University Ave. Suite 18, Riverside, (951) 781-7335; www.riversidedowntown.org.
BEST DRAG QUEEN
Give a twirl, Raven. Riverside’s favorite reigning queen was the first runner-up on season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race, followed by becoming a regular on RuPaul’s Drag U in 2010, helping put Riverside on the flamboyantly gay map. Whether s/he’s impersonating Paris Hilton or penning her autobiography Young, Broke and Fabulous, s/he’s fab-u-lous. Raven, a.k.a. Victorville-raised David Petruschin, was also on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 8, in a photo shoot with each of the show’s contestants. Formerly one of those sassy cosmetic counter guys, Raven now hosts drag nights at Oasis nightclub in Upland and The Menagerie in Riverside. (AOT)
BEST LOCAL FACEBOOK FAN PAGE
Inland Empire Derby Divas
A few Facebook pages out there look like desolate information superhighways, devoid of traffic and movement. But hop on to the Inland Empire Derby Divas’ page and get ready to scroll the hell down—one week’s worth of postings on their wall will easily surpass the limitations of your initial browser window with photos, news and information about upcoming matches. Yes, this local roller derby team’s activities aren’t just limited to the rink! (George Donovan)
BEST LOCAL PERSON TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER
Prison City Derby Dames
All right, this isn’t just one person on Twitter, but a whole bunch of skate-laden ladies collectively known as the Prison City Derby Dames. Abbreviated the PCDD (that’s also part of their Twitter URL identifier), this group of gals hail from the depths of lock-up land—Chino (yes, that’s where the whole “Prison City” thing comes into play, got it?)—and they’re ready to rumble with the power and persistence of a full-scale riot . . . of course, making sure to mount their uprising with the wheels on. In fact, they’ve been at it for over three years now, so you know it’s not some flimsy, fly-by-night adventure. And they’re also persistent with their computers, keeping the world abreast with the PCCD’s various goings on through their Twitter page. Wanna find out the next time these ladies arrive to kick ass and take names in their wake? Jump on the web to find out the easy—or, perhaps, hard—way. (Justin Cienega)
BEST LOCAL SCANDAL
Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach
Earlier this year, all eyes were on then-Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach. After years working with the Riverside Police Department, through the department’s post-Tyisha Miller years (read: allegations of police insensitivity and brutality to people of color) and into the good times, Leach made citizens once again question the integrity of their officers. In a single-car collision he struck who-knows-what (A light pole? A fire hydrant? A curb?), then drove more than three miles with a hanging fender and two blown tires claiming that he hadn’t touched a drop and that he was confused on prescription drugs and didn’t remember a thing. OK. Soon, there were reports of driving under the influence and the public found out what kind of establishment Club 215 really is. (LL)
Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner
He represents downtown and considers himself a servant of the people. It’s pretty clear that Mike Gardner eats, drinks and sleeps Riverside. As a 38-year resident of the city he swore to represent, I think he’s pretty committed to this town. He’d better be—he’s been living in the same house for the past 35 years(!) But the crème de la crème was how Gardner reacted when the Weekly called him (he posts his cell phone on the city’s website. Wow.): “I’m not sure Best Politician is good,” he tells us. “I like to think of myself as a Public Servant.” Spoken like a true champ, Mike. Some of his proudest accomplishments: His successful push to redesign the Main Street Mall and helping to keep politicians honest by leading an effort to make sure the city’s Code of Ethics and Conduct apply to elected officials 24-7. (GD)
BEST RADIO MORNING CREW
The Stu, Tiffany & Jimbo Show
Seems like some of our readers couldn’t remember to shake the original name (“The Morning Stiffy”) in favor of the re-christened show while casting their ballots. And, two years ago, we couldn’t even remember that Tiffany actually existed (we’ve since made up with her for our gaffe). What really matters here is that Stu, Tiffany and Jimbo are—bar none—the finest and funniest combo of morning voices transmitted over the Inland Empire’s airwaves. KCAL rocks . . . and laughs too! (F.L. Archer)
BEST TALK RADIO HOST
There’s no denying that Lanny Swerdlow knows his stuff when it comes to discussing issues related to medical marijuana. But there’s also no denying that Swerdlow can make talking about the healing green exceedingly more interesting, enlightening and appealing than some dull cannabis know-it-all rambling ad nauseam. Swerdlow (who’s on KCAA with “Compassion and Common Sense”) is also a registered nurse, which makes his advice all the more credible. (JC)
BEST TATTOO ARTIST
Corey Miller of Six Feet Under
Though he’s known for his time starring on LA Ink, Corey Miller was already a sought-after world-famous tattoo artist in the skin trade. He grew up in Ontario and Upland, still making his home in the former and his work the latter. He really has no reason to be driving to L.A. to work at Craig Jackman’s American Electric tattoo shop post-Kat fallout at this point, other than a contract he signed with A&E. Most recently, he opened his own art gallery, Timeless Art Gallery in Upland two doors up from the shop, which hosted the exhibit “Blood Money,” featuring the work of more than 40 tattoo artists. (AOT)
BEST TATTOO STUDIO
Brave New World
This outfit started out in Denver and now they’re coming to Rancho Cucamonga to kick body arts up a notch: Brave New World. Owned by Jesse Williamson and Eric Cox (with artists Ben Ochoa, Ruben Salazar and Jeremy Elliott), this place is a custom shop that also does piercings. Between Ochoa’s originality, Salazar’s lettering and black-and-white portraits and Elliott’s comic-book style, we’re talking about great skin artwork that deserves to last a lifetime. (GD)
Brave New World, 11819 Foothill Blvd. Unit H, Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 987-9944; Facebook Brave New World California.
Stacy Smith of Killarney’s
The requirements for what makes a great waitress could run a mile long. Certainly she needs to be attentive, especially with that first round of drinks, throughout your entire stay in the restaurant or bar. And it helps if she’s outgoing, charming and benignly flirtatious. Nice helps too. Stacy Smith of Killarney’s is all of these qualities and more. Friendly and funny with the regulars, Stacy helps make this pub a great spot for a meal, a brew or a more raucous affair. (Bill Gerdes)
Killarney’s Restaurant & Irish Pub, 3639 Riverside Plaza Dr. #532, Riverside, (951) 682-2933; www.killarneys.com.