The Best New Small Business Award, for a new retail shop, gallery or restaurant that has captured the attention of the marketplace and helped enhance downtown is awarded to Top Dog Hot Dogs.
Young entrepreneur and college student Caleb Robinson purchased his sandwich cart in early 2009 and started selling hot dogs, chips and soda in Downtown, mainly on Monument Square. He became a familiar sight at all Downtown events. As winter approached, Caleb decided to move indoors, where he is now located at 520 Monument Square Drive. The move extended not only Top Dog’s season, but also the menu, beyond what a cart could offer. Today, Top Dog Hot Dogs offers brats, polish sausage, grilled cheese sandwiches, italian beef, a turkey dog, and a tofu/vegetarian hot dog and more. As for his hot dog cart, Caleb says he'll bring it out next spring as a "satellite" Top Dog location.The Downtown Showcase Award, presented for an exciting event that has helped attract visitors and improve the overall image of downtown as an exciting, dynamic, happening place, is awarded to “Downtown Carves Its Niche.”
Downtown Carves Its Niche is an annual ice carving event which started along Main and 6th Streets in Downtown Racine in 2007. The event was primarily introduced to increase foot traffic through Downtown in what is normally a very slow month for merchants. The event has grown in the past four years and has become another free Downtown event which draws visitors to Downtown and generates sales in our Downtown stores, galleries and restaurants. This award is presented to Mary Osterman who started the event and continues to chair it.The Downtown Champion Award is presented to an individual who has been a catalyst in improving downtown; has provided service to the downtown community and has worked tirelessly to promote downtown. This award is being presented to Jeff Shawhan.
Jeff is the owner of Elements Gallery on 6th Street, an active member of the Downtown Racine Corporation, a new member of the DRC board of directors and overall advocate for Downtown Racine. He has been instrumental in resurrecting the 6th Street Artwalk and introducing it as an added attraction to Downtown’s annual Party on the Pavement. Jeff also spearheaded the new Winterfest Snow Sculpting Festival which was held on Monument Square in December. He was responsible for bringing 20 talented local, national and international snow sculptors to Downtown to participate in this new event. Jeff volunteers and gives to the downtown community, not for his own gain but for the greater good of all Downtown merchants.The Corporate Citizenship Award is presented to a business that is the ultimate citizen, supporting downtown through employment, facilities and sponsorship. This year’s Corporate Citizenship Award is being presented to Racine Broadcasting – the home of WRJN and Lite Rock 92 One radio stations.
WRJN and Lite Rock 92 One have partnered with DRC for a number of years under the direction of Tim Etes, vice president and general manager. They have worked with DRC helping us “brand” Downtown Racine as Simply The Best. They have helped create new jingles which have been used in all of our radio advertising. And, each year the stations provide affordable advertising packages for DRC members. WRJN and Lite Rock 92 One are also corporate sponsors for most of Downtown’s special events providing on-air interviews, remote broadcasts and other promotions. They are truly a corporate citizen to Downtown Racine!