The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday March 24th

Chapel Hill, Carrboro celebrate excellent businesses

The Business Excellence Awards, or BEAs, will celebrate winners of the Business of the Year and Chapel Hill News People’s Choice awards and will be held at Playmakers Repertory Company with an afterparty at The Strowd.

Finalists for four categories — micro-enterprise of the year, mid-size business of the year, large business of the year and non-profit of the year — were announced in January. Finalists for the remaining categories will be announced on May 3.

“This is an opportunity where businesses are recognized by their peers by being the best at their area,”said Chamber spokeswoman Kristen Smith.

Among the finalists for the Business of the Year are Balloons and Tunes, Al’s Burger Shack, The Carolina Inn and the Compass Center for Women and Families.

Al’s Burger Shack’s founder Al Bowers, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus, said the restaurant is very active in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community.

“We’re involved with the community on a weekly basis,” Bowers said. “We do fundraising with elementary schools, middle schools and university groups.”

The restaurant focuses on providing fresh local food.

“We’re not trying to change the world or anything,” Bowers said. “We’re just trying to have the world eat better cheeseburgers.”

Pat Garavaglia, founder of finalist Balloons & Tunes, has been operating her business in Carrboro for 35 years, delivering balloons to private parties and corporate events.

“We deliver balloons to offices, dorms, for every kind of occasion you can imagine,” she said.

Garavaglia said she came up with the idea for her business after reading a magazine article about a man in Boston who supported his children through college by selling balloons. Garavaglia’s father sold industrial gases, so she said she was no stranger to helium gas.

“I have been around helium all my life,” she said. “When we started, it wasn’t easy because it was a new idea.”

Smith said this is the first time the Chamber is partnering with Chapel Hill News for the People’s Choice Awards, which residents can vote for online until May 6.

“It will be a dazzling red carpet with entertainment,” Smith said. “We’re calling it an Oscars for business.”

Members of the community can purchase a single ticket to the event for $55.

Winners for each category will be announced on the award night.

“These nominations are great stories that we should tell the whole community about where our businesses have given back and innovated in their sectors,” Smith said.


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