Readers’ Choice 2016
- Readers’ Choice 2016 | Eat, pray, shop — locally
- Synagogue Life
- Have a Nosh
- Shop Till You Drop
- Health, Beauty & Fitness
- Business & Professional
The Cliff House, a San Francisco landmark since 1863 with spectacular views of the ocean and the Marin coast, hosts elegant receptions. Along with seasonal menus, guests can enjoy sightings of flocks of pelicans and seagulls as well as an occasional seal, dolphin or whale.
The Terrace Room at Oakland’s Lake Merritt Hotel, built in 1927, offers an art deco ballroom seating up to 200 guests, along with a large dance floor and stage and views of the lake, the hills and, at night, the “necklace of lights” that surrounds the lake.
Foster City’s Peninsula JCC specializes in parties, especially for kids and teens. Party-givers can take advantage of the facility’s sports and aquatics complex, hosting pool parties for all ages as well as gymnastics, sports and theme parties. The PJCC also offers b’nai mitzvah and Sweet 16 parties.
Congregation Kol Shofar’s social hall in Tiburon, with sweeping views of the mountains from floor-to-ceiling glass doors, plus bamboo floors for dancing and movable walls for banquets of various sizes, provides an elegant setting for receptions. A well-marked commercial kosher kitchen accommodates caterers.
In Novato, the Marin Country Club hosts events from simchas to family celebrations, with options from a Saturday evening reception in the ballroom, with up to 240 guests, to a more intimate gathering in the library. Wedding ceremonies can take place on the first hole of the golf course.
Congregation Kol Shofar
(415) 388-1818 ext. 106
Marin Country Club
Alan Waltz says his 10-year-old company specializes in providing DJs and entertainers who complement the personality of the hosts. Waltz, who has entertained at bar mitzvahs himself and started DJing as a hobby, also provides photo booths, lighting and event production for all occasions.
Denon & Doyle, launched in 1984, has provided DJs and entertainers at thousands of Bay Area events. It also provides photo booths, lighting and DIY rentals, plus entertainers who “know how to light up a room without resorting to cheesy gimmicks,” according to the website. The office has full-time staff.
Gatsby specializes in Jewish entertainment, providing DJs and emcees, bands, dancers and other entertainers, plus photos booths and lighting. At bar and bat mitzvahs, “We get your party started with games, competitions and our MCs set the tone for a fun and energetic party,” according to the website.
Joel Nelson, a perennial winner who has been in the local entertainment industry since 1981, leads his own band and provides DJs, emcees, dancers and entertainment to the Bay Area’s Jewish market. “We sing in Hebrew, teach Israeli dances if requested and can even lead the Birkat,” the grace after meals.
Alan Waltz Entertainment
Denon & Doyle Entertainment
Joel Nelson Productions
San Jose & San Francisco
Jeff Cable not only specializes in wedding and b’nai mitzvah photography, but every two years he has “the honor of photographing the Olympic Games for the U.S. Olympic Committee,” he writes. His mission is to “capture the essence of any person or family and tell the story of their big day.”
Serving Jewish community clients for 30 years, Richard Mayer specializes in wedding and b’nai mitzvah photography, and says many rabbis and clergy have hired him to photograph their own family events. Two of his photos were featured in a show on local Jewish life at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum.
Shoey Sindel is a portrait and event photographer specializing in lifecycle events, including weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, anniversaries and family events. Her photos and albums document “the love and relationships throughout people’s lives,” she writes, from maternity and childhood to old age.
Gina Petersen photographs weddings in the wine country region as well as throughout the Bay Area. She says she creates “photojournalistic wedding photos, capturing candid moments. …The fleeting moments that we have with our loved ones are the moments to be treasured.”
Jeff Cable Photography
Richard Mayer Photography
Gina Petersen Photography
Shoey Sindel Photography
Too Caterers, the kosher subsidiary of Continental Caterers, is a perennial readers’ favorite, providing strictly kosher fare for health-conscious clients at Jewish community events as well as simchas. “Our food is creative, organic and cutting edge,” says general manager Wendy Kleckner, a catering professional since 1980.
Oakland Kosher Foods’ catering division has catered an event for 500 in Berlin and a Chinese banquet for 200 at a bar mitzvah reception on a boat. Working within the client’s budget, the caterers ensure that the display is visually appealing and the flavors bring smiles, says vice president Gary Freeman.
Based in Cotati, Park Avenue Catering provides kosher fare, under rabbinic supervision, as well as other menu options, for events in the wine country and the North Bay. Bruce Riezenman, executive chef and owner of the green-certified company, has served as guest chef at the James Beard House in New York.
San Francisco & South Bay/Peninsula
Oakland Kosher Foods
Park Avenue Catering
Continental Caters, in Palo Alto under its current ownership since 1994, plans and caters events, with menus ranging from Jewish cuisine to Asian, French or vegetarian. “We pride ourselves in our understanding of current food trends and our ability to constantly be on the cutting edge,” says president Paul Alexander.
Sunrise in Walnut Creek offers catering from 500-plus sit-down dinners to group breakfasts and lunches, which can be delivered or picked up at the bistro. Menus range from Jewish and Italian cuisine to Mexican and California healthy, with an emphasis on comfort food.
Delicious Catering, the first Marin caterer to be green-certified, specializes in weddings, b’nai mitzvah and corporate events, and “Jewish food is a specialty,” says Jan Goldberg, who founded the company in 1975. The caterer also offers special menus for Hanukkah, break-the-fasts, Passover seders and shivas.
San Francisco & South Bay/Peninsula
Sunrise Bistro and Catering
Every day, the e-commerce Farmgirl Flowers creates one arrangement using only American flowers, wrapped in recycled burlap coffee sacks and dispatched. By recycling and reducing waste, the San Francisco florist can provide “designer-quality arrangements at generic eComm prices,” writes Christina Stembel, founder-CEO. The florist also provides wedding arrangements.
Based in Berkeley, the family owned and operated Solano Florists offers a wide selection of wedding bouquets and arrangements for ceremonies and receptions. On Yelp and Facebook, clients give stellar reviews to owner Amir Abdolhosseini’s designs. “Amir is an artist,” writes one happy bride.
Serving clients by appointment in her Hillsborough studio, Mindy Rosenberg, who also offers workshops and tours at the San Francisco Flower Mart, says she’s “passionate” about creating memorable floral arrangements. She enjoys combining “organic colors, textures and materials to create a botanical ‘wow.’ ”
Gayle Nicoletti, founder-owner of Bloomingayles in Mill Valley, calls her nontraditional design approach “ramshackle chic,” or “European with a West Coast twist.” In addition to arrangements for weddings and special events, she creates long-lasting bouquets for the home and teaches floral design classes.
Mindy Rosenberg Design
Susan Gildea in Berkeley has created personalized invitations for 25 years, from whimsical to sophisticated, working with clients’ preferences and budgets. “The perfect invitation,” she writes, “focuses on the tradition and importance of the ceremony, but also the excitement and enthusiasm of the party to follow.”
In Palo Alto, Paper Pizzazz, founded in 1985, carries invitations “from classical to whimsical, frugal to decadent and beyond,” says owner Frosty Gross, who serves clients by appointment and offers discount prices. She also offers suggestions on wording and solutions to etiquette questions.
Susan Gildea Personalized Printing