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Localwise is thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2016 Work Local Awards. We received over 1,000 incredible nominations and narrowed it down to the top 3 in each category.

Winners will be announced at the Work Local Awards Celebration Party on April 28th at The Port.

Get your tickets here

Here is a bit about the top 3 finalists in each category. Be sure to scroll down to the last category—it's the cutest!

Best Employer: Food & Drink

Freeland Foods, Inc.

Freeland Foods, Inc. is an organic, raw and dehydrated food manufacturer with a line of 100% organic raw granola, bars, sprouts, cookies, chips and real live chocolate.

"While working with truly amazing and fun individuals, it hardly feels like a 9 to 5. We enjoy each others time so much that we participate in many events outside of working: Rock and Roll marathon, aerial yoga, and shopping."

The Hidden Vine

The Hidden Vine Wine Bar is committed to offering a variety of interesting, small production, and lesser-known wines from California and the world.

"The environment is relaxing and inviting, but with style and class. I feel very taken care of by our management and am very grateful to be part of an awesome local business!"


Duende’s inspirational is authentic regional Spanish cuisine, but with equal parts traditional and contemporary influences, comprised of local, sustainable ingredients.

"The close relationship between the owner, managers and staff creates a work environment of equals; every voice is heard. The folks here are solid."

Best Employer: Retail


Founded in 1996, Ambiance's offers vintage-inspired dresses, funky clothes, shoes and accessories for all San Francisco's fashionistas.

"Working at Ambiance has given me the opportunity to grow with the company and learn about retail from the ground up. And in keeping with the company motto, 'At Ambiance we really like you!'- the owners treat their employees with the same sentiment."

Modern Mouse

Modern Mouse offers a fun, stylish and modern collection of local and independent designs: for her, him and home. Over 130 artists and counting!

"Modern Mouse is a fun, creative, flexible work environment that feels like family. The level of organization and clear expectations create freedom within the job; Modern Mouse is  supportive of each employee as an individual, tailoring job descriptions towards areas of interest and encouraging their personal pursuits."

The Local Butcher Shop

The Local Butcher Shop is dedicated to seasonal, locally-sourced, sustainably-raised, fresh meat, from ranches within 150 miles of Berkeley, CA.

"Aaron and Monica have shown me what it looks like to genuinely care about their staff and their footprint in the community while simultaneously keeping a thriving business. They know each and every one of us on a personal level and make sure we feel heard while also constantly teaching us and holding a high standard of quality."

Best Employer: Education


BrainVyne provides fun and educational LEGO®/Robotics Camps for kids ages 4 to 11 years old.

"The quality of this program was  a great learning experience for myself as well as the children who sign up for it. My expectations were greatly exceeded by how much this awesome camp has to offer in terms of child education, development, creativity, social skills, and especially fun. I was excited each day to go to work and be in an environment where others could enjoy building with LEGOs as well."


Magoosh is affordable online test prep for GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, TOEFL, Praxis and LSAT.

"Bhavin Parikh provides extraordinary leadership without micromanaging, encouraging the team to challenge itself and take calculated, data-driven risks to increase our understanding of the test prep market and, most importantly, our students. As an employee, I have never felt so appreciated and trusted, and that's really what makes Magoosh the best company to work for in the Bay Area."

YMCA-PG&E Teen Center

The YMCA of the Central Bay Area is a cause-driven nonprofit that ensures people have what they need to get and stay healthy.

"It's so much more than just a job where I show up every day and work. We truly are a team where we support each other through whatever difficulties we are having, both on and off the job. It is basically a family of people super passionate about teaching. And the fact that they are so passionate about what they do, helps to keep me passionate"

Best Employer: Startup


Nuvolum is an integrated marketing firm focused on creating experiential solutions for Oral & Facial Surgeons.

"Nuvolum has been a fantastic place to work, learn, grow, and have fun. We all have a "success" goal in mind and work extremely hard, however, we find time to release some of the stress by team outings, nerf gun wars, and of course, birthday celebrations! The entire staff, including the managing partners, are a joy to be around."

Chalk Schools

Chalk Schools frees your district to run at its best: instantly move any form, process, or document workflow online.

"Chalk is a startup that is very considerate of their users and the diversity of their team. Everyone on the team is understanding, friendly, helpful, product-oriented and user-oriented."


Altruvistas is an ethical travel company inspiring travelers to engage their passion, explore issues they care about & build philanthropic relationships.

"All co-workers at Altruvistas are team players - we all pitch in to get the job done with smiles on our faces. There is no negativity that shrouds this utmost positive meaningfully workplace"

Best Employer: Nonprofit

San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center

The mission of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center is to prevent child abuse and reduce its devastating impact.

"I've worked at a number of nonprofits, and this one has by far the most supportive, caring coworkers. Our team is young, smart, and fun - and I look forward to coming to work with them every day."

Somos Mayfair

The mission of Somos Mayfair is to support children, organize families, and connect neighbors to uplift the dreams, power, and leadership of community and address systemic inequities.

"Somos Mayfair has strong organizational values of equity, mutual support, culture and connectedness that radiates across its staff. This transcends into its community work and supports the community transformation that it seeks."

Computer Technologies Program (CTP)

Computer Technologies Program (CTP) prepares people with disabilities for professional employment by providing technical training, coaching and associated services.

"The staff at CTP share a passion for providing professional vocational training services to people with disabilities unknown to mankind. While CTP has been around for decades the dedicated staff at CTP is always doing their part to keep things fresh and interesting for clients providing substance in training and a welcoming environment where people can feel comfortable."

Best Employer: Health & Fitness


Truve is a 7,200 square foot private training facility, born out of the idea that health and fitness do not conform to the one-size-fits-all approach.

"Alison is a great business owner and mentor. She encourages us all to grow our business and meet our personal and business goals, checks in with us, and holds us accountable for the goals we set for ourselves. She is a champion to all of us who work under her."

The Source Chiropractic

The Source Chiropractic looks for the basic fundamental underlying cause of your health problems. Instead of drugs, they offer solutions. Instead of a cold shoulder, they welcome you with an open heart and loving hands.

"Dr Brett Jones truly embodies the type of employer that walks their talk. He takes an active role in involving the community, challenging his employees while praising effort on a daily basis. His vision for a healthier Oakland is palpable and his work ethic is contagious. I truly couldn't imagine working in a more enjoyable environment."

Urban Fitness Oakland

Urban Fitness is more than a gym. It is an action-oriented network designed to train you for the real world so that you can run, jump, play, lift, squat, skate, ski, hike, rock climb–or do whatever other activities that life happens to throw at you.

"Urban Fitness Oakland is a great place to work! My teammates are always supportive and encouraging, the members here are hardworking and a pleasure to help out."

Best Employer: Salon & Spa


Born from a vision of three stylists, Manifesta provides their guests with beautifully crafted hairstyles, environmentally sustainable products, and socially responsible practices in a fun and inviting setting.

"I work there and not only is it a beautiful space and perfectly located, I work with awesome stylists that produce quality work. We are truly a team, we don't just say it. We have each other's back, we are always willing to help each other out."

Melt Massage

Melt Massage is a masseuse located in Montclair Village, Oakland that offers up to 4-hour long massages including Swedish, Sports Massage, Deep Tissue, Pregnancy, Reflexology, and Couples Massage.

"Hana has created an environment of calm and healing that I have not found in any other place I have worked. All of the therapists I work with here as the Administrator are amazing at what they do and contribute to the overall success and supportive environment that Melt offers its employees."

On Edge Beauty Studio

On Edge Beauty Studio brings OnEdge Hair, Makeup, Beauty, and Professional Development.

"On Edge Beauty Studio believes in increasing professional development and empowering the Latino(a) community as fundamental goal in the city of San Jose. Upon certifying their students they sponsor their career by hiring them as on-call instructors and/or refer to other studio academies."

Best Employer: Professional Services

Montclair Veterinary Hospital

Montclair Veterinary Hospital is a full-service animal hospital providing quality veterinary services in Oakland, CA.

"Montclair has cultivated a culture of gratitude and kindness, and I can see that create a positive ripple effect in their interactions with vendors, clients, and patients (and the community at large)."

Lake Merritt Dental

Lake Merritt Dental's mission is to provide our patients the best dental experience, to give back to our community abundantly, and to lead the industry in environmentally conscious and sustainable dentistry.

"Lake Merritt Dental has taken calculated risks and moves the skills of the entire workforce to new levels. Their understanding about the dental field with a customer service focus has been moving dramatically by taking culture to a place where we all love to work, our customers appreciate and value our products and services and opportunity is created for all."

Advent Properties Inc.

Advent Properties, Inc. provides comprehensive, responsive, and customer-friendly professional property management and real estate services.

"Our principal and CEO Benjamin Scott goes out of his way to ensure every client (be they owner, renter, or vendor) is accommodated for to the absolute best of his abilities, and will give the shirt off his back the and the food from his plate to his clients without thinking twice. A stand-up member of the community with the best interests of all of us in his heart."

Best Manager

Bonnee and Abraham Elterman, As You Wish Frozen Yogurt

As You Wish Froyo serves only the best froyo with locally purchased fresh fruit toppings.

"I've had many employers over the years, and Bonnee and Abraham Elterman are among the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. They do not micromanage, they seek our input, they do not hesitate to work the front lines."

Amy Brueggemeyer, FB Design Build

Friedman Brueggemeyer Design Build provides an integrated design/build experience, helping their residential, commercial, and non-profit clients develop their ideal work and living spaces.

"Our leader, Amy Brueggemeyer, is a problem solver extraordinaire. Running the business singlehandedly, she manages to create a supportive, upbeat atmosphere both in the office and at job sites."

Kyra Worthy, For Richmond

For Richmond is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting job, health, safety and educational opportunities for Richmond residents.

"Kyra realizes that in uplifting everyday people—my fellow colleagues and community members among them—she’s not only contributing toward one individual’s positive transformation, but also the transformation of Richmond as a whole."

Best Co-workers

Annmarie Skin Care

Annmarie Skin Care sells effective, organic, and cruelty-free beauty products made from natural oils and herbs.

"ASC is a conscious workplace with good vibes and an amazing team! We get to spend time and run a business with a team of people who are uniquely passionate and eager to learn from each other. We laugh a lot."

Horizons Unlimited of San Francisco

Horizons is a youth development and empowerment organization rooted in community service and advocacy.

"Horizons employees are actually caring and put their all into their work. They enjoy what they do and they can all work together. They make a huge difference in people's lives but stay grounded and humble."

San Francisco Suicide Prevention

San Francisco Suicide Prevention is the oldest community-based telephone crisis center in the United States.

"Having worked for SFSP for 12 years I can say the staff is the made of the most supportive and accommodating coworkers I've ever had. We have over 150 volunteers as part of our team and everyone feels loved and appreciated."

Most Diverse Team

Global Glimpse

Global Glimpse is a nonprofit organization working to inspire a new generation of young Americans to become responsible global citizens.

"Global Glimpse is led by Eliza Pesuit, who over the past seven years has elevated Global Glimpse to national prominence, and supporting her is a diverse, small team that consists of majority women and minorities. Together, they break the common stigma that is associated with nonprofits - the team has both the heart and the business know-how to effectively operate, grow, and sustain a wildly effective organization."

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center

Renaissance is a non-profit organization that provides small business training and support services to women and men throughout the Bay Area.

"Our staff is very diverse and the most diverse place I have ever worked at. We are a colorful and happy mix of people who help each other understand our communities' perspectives."

Brothers on the Rise

Brothers on the Rise is a dual direct service-systems change organization which responsibly empowers male youth to achieve individual success, develop healthy relationships and contribute to a more just and equitable society.

"The staff and board represents the beautiful diversity of our city, and of the youth and families we serve – including people of African American, Latino, Asian American, Caucasian and multi-racial backgrounds as well as the LGBTQ community. "

Most Community-Oriented Employer

The Town Kitchen

The Town Kitchen delivers chef-crafted boxed lunch and employs urban youth.

"Sabrina is revolutionizing local food by centering the young people of our community in her business model, at a time when so many tech companies are seeking to come into Oakland without the same thoughtfulness. She not only gives young people an opportunity to work, learn, and build their careers - but the food they create is of the highest quality."

Field Day

Field Day emerged from the desire to make timeless, impeccably crafted clothing from completely conscious materials that transcend trendy and were made to make history.

"Field Day is a not only a shop, but a fantastic community space that fosters local creativity and holds space for USA-made handcrafted goods. The owner of the business, Trinity Cross, does an enormous amount of work to host local artists, designers, and to invite herbalists, teachers of esoteric knowledge, and creative makers to teach classes that enrich the quality of life for people in the Bay Area."

Root & Stem Integrative Chinese Medicine

Root & Stem Integrative Chinese Medicine provides individual treatments with the goal of facilitation the body's own ability to achieve health and wellness.

"Root & Stem strives to support the people of Oakland. We love our community, and work hard to help people feel better! We also support many non-profits and offer free treatment space for programs like the East Bay Integrative Pregnancy Project and the Fibroid Transformation Program. We believe in a happy, healthy Oakland and do whatever we can to support our Oakland family."

Most Fun Place to Work

Blue Door Beads

Blue Door Beads offers a wide range of beads, findings, tools and supplies.

"Most days barely feel like work! I work with an incredibly inspiring team of women, and we encourage our customers to embrace the DIY movement of jewelry-making. My coworkers and I are constantly cracking jokes, forming relationships with customers, making jewelry to sell in the shop, and just having an overall great time, every day!"

Galileo Learning

Galileo’s mission is to create a world of fearless innovators. We think kids who learn to explore and fail without fear—the essence of innovation—are happier, more creative and more confident when faced with life’s challenges.

"Galileo not only cares for its customers, the families and students that attend our innovation camps, to the highest possible level, but gives so, so much time and effort into the staff itself. They make sure to devote resources, attention, and real compassion to ensure that employees like where they are, what they're doing, and where they're going."

The Companion Group

The Companion Group is a leading design & manufacturer of barbecue tools, accessories and other products for cooking outdoors for 30 years.

"It's the best place I've ever worked at, and I truly enjoy coming in here. This is not just a place where I come in to do my job, but it's also a place that is close to my heart where I know and love many people that I work with. It's also FUN, full of innovative products, great food (yes, related to work when we do product testing) and keeps things interesting!"

Best Employee Perks

Location Labs

Location Labs is a worldwide pioneer in mobile location and device management technologies.

"This is a great place to work with awesome employee benefits. We have great medical care for employee's entire family, gourmet lunches on Friday, parties catered by Chez Panisse, Formal Fridays where we dress up on certain Fridays, Yoga, workout clubs, craft club, game night, etc. There is always a celebration!"

DZH Phillips

DZH Phillips delivers analytical clarity, provides financial and accounting expertise, and communicates findings to facilitate a timely resolution.

"Some of the employee perks include random raffles, ice cream day, surprise snacks, frappucinos to your desks, contests and more! This past December at our holiday party we busted out with a flash mob dance routine. We know how to work hard and play hard too."

Albert Nahman Plumbing and Heating

Albert Nahman Plumbing and Heating offers upfront pricing, friendly and knowledgeable plumbing contractors who arrive at your door on time, in uniform, and work carefully and efficiently on your home’s plumbing.

"Health & dental benefits. Bonuses. Continuing educations support/paid training. Time off for family vacation. Work/life balance. Retirement contributions. Albert Nahman always find the ways to remind employees that they are valued, through peer-to-peer recognition award or length of service awards, or even a simple 'Thank you'."

Coolest Workspace

Origami Mami

Origami Mami offers services in Origami design and instruction/workshops for all ages, custom paper decorations for any events such as design projects, birthdays, weddings and window display design.

"What started as a hobby blossomed into a thriving origami paper art school for adults & children alike who strive to make art with their own hands in ways they never imagined... Jennifer puts her heart & soul into developing new and incredibly creative projects for all her students to make with simple paper each week, even printing her own papers for the projects- and no one deserves an award more!"

Brooklyn Academy Roots

Through a variety of approaches, the fitness coaches at Brooklyn Academy Roots work to help each of their clients reach peak physical form, inside and out.

"Our studio is a welcoming and fun atmosphere for both our clientele and instructors. The look and feel of history and reverence that are our brick walls capture our commitment to our roots, strength and community development."

Rare Bird

Rare Bird provides a forum to share works of art and a space that celebrates the creativity of the community and provides its customers with the opportunity to buy beautifully crafted pieces

"All of Erica's sweetness aside, she also has incredible taste, so the environment in Rare Bird is always beautiful and interesting. She believes that she space should be alive, and is therefore constantly evolving. If you've seen the shop, you know what I'm talking about."

Best Business Pet



Nuvolum is an integrated marketing firm focused on creating experiential solutions for Oral & Facial Surgeons.

"From the moment Enzo started coming to our office everyone's moods shifted. We are a very creative and fast paced start up. Having a chunky little puppy bounce into the office brought laughter and a break from the intense focus. Enzo likes to start his day by making a stop at each persons desk for a pet and snuggle. Once he has made his rounds he will settle into his spot right behind my chair."



Convert offers men and women great fashion options from brands that are already sustainably produced, brands which have eco-options within their collections, or companies willing to make a change in the way they do business.

"Cooper is truly a working dog. He spends his day greeting customers either with a "do you have any food?" face, or a friendly terrier bark. Everyone loves his grey Mohawk and soulful brown eyes. The only downside is the sneaky trips to Bettes for food begging. It's just a better day all around when he's here."


The Party Staff

The Party Staff offers temporary staff for caterers, private and corporate events. Includes services, options, and locations.

"Simon has opened up a lot of new friendships and perspective employees for us without even having to take the required classes on how to do this.  Simon instills calm and poise in our office during hyper-tense days as he quietly snores to the ticks of the clock.  He brings joy to our busy days and has opened doors for many new friendships, new employees, interesting conversation and his loyalty and dedication has brought us through some difficult days."

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