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Three Needham businesses, one local entrepreneur and a local legend were honored at the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber’s second annual Needham Night Dinner, Jan. 30 at the Needham Sheraton Hotel.
Needham Night is an evening dedicated to celebrating the town’s economic and cultural vitality. Robert Glazer, founder and CEO of Needham-based global performance marketing agency Acceleration Partners, delivered the keynote address. More than 200 business and civic leaders braved snow squalls and the bitter cold to attend the sold-out event.
Topping off the annual awards was the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, which was honored as the Needham Business of the Year Award. Additional honorees included Jay Spencer, proprietor of the French Press Bakery and Café, who was presented with the Businessperson of the Year Award; Maggie and Bob Stark, owners of the Closet Exchange who received the Thomas E. Caulfield Outstanding Customer Service Award; and Reveler Beverage Company, which was honored for spearheading a major renovation.
In addition, Chamber President Greg Reibman presented Paulette Harwood, proprietor of Paulette’s Ballet Studio, with a lifetime achievement award.
“In business, you need to make friends before you make money,” Reibman said. “Needham Night is all about nurturing community connections in support of Needham’s 254 businesses and nonprofit chamber members.”
Newly elected state Sen. Becca Rausch presented the BID-Needham with the Business of the Year Award in recognition of the hospital’s “unwavering commitment to our community and its role as a vital economic engine.”
Last year, the BID-Needham donated more than $83,000 in grants, sponsorships, programming and events support to local schools, councils on aging, public health departments, non-profits and the fire department, while partnering and supporting more than 60 community organizations, including the chamber.
The hospital also earned praise for installing a prescription drug disposal kiosk to provide residents with a safe place to dispose of drugs, an important step in reducing the opioid epidemic in our local communities.
“The BID-Needham is an amazing resource for the many people who work and live in the area,” Rausch said. “We are all fortunate to have this world class medical center in our community and are pleased to present it with the Business of the Year award. “
John Fogarty, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham said the hospital was “honored to receive the award at the second annual Needham Night, and we are privileged to be in the company of other great recipients.
“At BID–Needham, we have undergone tremendous growth and success as a health care provider and employer in the region, with great support from our community, including the Chamber. We are truly grateful to be recognized with this award,” Fogarty added.
French Press Bakery & Café proprietor Jay Spencer was presented with the Businessperson of the Year Award by Needham Select Chair Dan Matthews.
“Jay’s creativity and exceptional entrepreneurial drive has made Needham a better place,” Matthews said, while joking that since the Chapel Street restaurant is just a few steps away from Town Hall, he’s had plenty of opportunities to become familiar with its menu.
Matthews praised Spencer’s ability to evolve his business model with the changing lifestyles, which will continue this spring when French Press begins to offer sidewalk seating.
The annual Sparkle Award, presented to a business that has spearheaded a major renovation that enhances the town’s economic vitality, was awarded to Reveler Beverage Company by state Sen. Mike Rush
Owners Scott and Kate Linzmeyer earned praise for transforming the former location of New Garden on Chestnut Street into a welcoming white-painted exterior with clear glass windows, a charming logo lit above the entrance with planters on each side and a warm wooden aesthetic inside.
“Based upon its unique design concept and beautiful resulting renovation,” Rush said, “I’m delighted to present Scott and Kate Linzmeyer of Reveler Beverage Co. with the Sparkle Award.“
The Thomas E. Caulfield Outstanding Customer Service Award was to Closet Exchange owners Maggie and Bob Stark.
In 2003, Brenda Stark purchased the original Closet Exchange Resale store in Needham. By the end of her first year, she had run out of space, so she added a second store, hired her husband Bob, and in time, her daughter Maggie came on as a partner.
Together, they grew the consignment business to incorporate four stores that offer quality women’s clothing, catering to every type of fashion need, all at a fraction of retail prices. Tying every store together is their exceptional focus on personal customer service.
Brenda Stark passed away in 2018 but Anne Weinstein, District Director for State Rep. Denise C. Garlick noted that “Maggie and Bob keep Brenda’s dream alive in a way that honors her gift for caring and serving women in beautiful ways."
The evening’s final award went to 91-year-old Harwood, who after nearly six decades of teaching dancers in Needham and Newton, retired and closed her business, Paulette’s Ballet Studio, in July of 2018.
“For 58 years, Paulette Harwood taught thousands of children the art of dance,” said Reibman. “But what she really taught were the lessons of life. About confidence. Self-awareness. Standing tall. Discipline. Self expression. Creativity.
“These are skills that take you far, not just in the arts, but in the business world and in life.”