The Best of Savannah

Best of Savannah 2009: City Life

Most Eligible Bachelor Bobby Deen

Most Eligible Bachelor: Bobby Deen

After a hectic day at The Lady & Sons Restaurant, Savannah's most eligible bachelor Bobby Deen prefers to head for the dock behind his house instead of hitting the town.

Deen, 39, is co-owner (with brother Jamie) of the restaurant that's put his family on Savannah's tourism map.

"I spend all day around so many people in the store, on my off time I like to keep it more low key. When the five o'clock bell rings we congregate at my house," says Deen. "There's boats and jet skis, we do lowcountry boils on the dock. When I have a date, or meet a girl that I like, I love to have her out to the house and cook for her."

On that occasional night out, Deen enjoys "a good meal...and good live jazz. I love Ben Tucker. If you're fortunate enough to catch him someplace live its going to be a good date."

For years, Deen had no interest in settling down, but seeing his mother and his brother in happy marriages has changed him. "My brother is a totally committed husband and father, and I am seeing what a great marriage is. I am beginning to come around to the idea."

As for Deen's ideal partner? "Honestly, the girl I should have married, I let her get away. I want to meet someone I am so attracted to that she makes me want to have a family and be with her all the time. Don't you think you have to meet someone who knocks you out?"

"I've used every excuse in the book [for not getting married.] I've used the business, I've used my parents' divorce," he continues. "Depending on other people is scary to me, and conversely, having someone fully dependent on me is scary too."
Bobby's brother, Jamie Deen, weighs in.

"A few years ago Bobby was chosen as one of People Magazine's most eligible bachelors," says Jamie. "My favorite joke was that it was a slow year for bachelors. It's funny, but it's not true. Bobby is a smart, down to earth, hard working, family oriented, funny, loyal guy.

"He wants to meet just the right girl to be his partner for life. When he does, we will call her lucky." -- RWG


Most Eligible Bachelorette: Robin Wheeler

Want to catch up with Robin Wheeler, this year's most eligible bachelorette? You're likely to find this 41 year old "playing soccer or Frisbee in Forsyth Park with my son Tyler," kayaking, traveling the southeastern U.S. with her job, at a Republican Party event, or at a literacy fundraiser.

Wheeler, a sales rep for New Orleans' based Pelican Publishing Company, is a committed literacy activist who loves reading. In her former job as Community Relations Specialist for Barnes & Noble, she led a drive to collect over 1,000 new books for donation to the Chatham County Public School system.

Passionate about community activism, Wheeler's resume includes an array of past and present civic projects and accolades, ranging from board memberships at the Matthew Reaardon Center and the Live Oak Public Library Twigs Program to recognition as the 2008 Georgia Young Republican of the Year. Observers might be surprised to learn that, despite living in the city "for almost 20 years now, I am still a country girl at heart, from Tattnall County," says Wheeler. "I love to go home to the farm to fish and shoot guns."

Wheeler borrows her approach to being single from William Shakespeare. "To thine own self be true. Some men are intimidated by my straightforwardness and aggressiveness. However, I am who I am."

Wheeler's relationship goal is "a lifetime companion, not necessarily marriage, but someone I can depend on and grow old with." Ideally a man who is "honest, has faith in God, the ability to relate to my son, and most importantly, tolerance of my overall general goofiness."

When you spend time with Wheeler "you are guaranteed to have a good time no matter where you go," says friend Michael Gaster. "Whether you are by yourself on a park bench, or in the middle of Pinkie Master's, that woman brings excitement."

"Don't change yourself for anyone," counsels Wheeler. "Make a small circle of friends and work out from there. Boyfriends are like buses, there's always another one right around the corner. Best friends are forever." -- RWG


Best Old Building: City Hall

The newly refurbished gold dome still looks good along the waterfront.

Runnerup: Owens-Thomas House


Best New Building: Jepson Center for the Arts

This Moshe Safdie-designed gem fits in surprisingly well with its historic surroundings.

Runner-up: AVIA Hotel


Best Green Building: Abercorn Common

Easily one of the best examples of sustainable/green architecture in the country, this Southside shopping center features the world's first LEED-certified McDonald's.

Runner-up: Frogtown Lofts


Building Most In Need of Demolition: Drayton Tower

This is actually a great example of Internationalist architecture. It's not the building's fault it's in a 300-year old historic district.

Runner-up: City Hall


Best Neighborhood: Ardsley Park

Rapidly shedding its conservative reputation and now a quite diverse mix.

Runner-up: Isle of Hope


Most Overrated Neighborhood: The Landings

Please tell us once again how you did things back in Jersey.

Runner-up: Wilmington Island


Most Underrated Neighborhood: Gordonston

This eastside area is an under-the-radar classic.

Runner-up: Baldwin Park


Best Church: Savannah Christian Church

This Southside megachurch has a full calendar of missionary work, outreach, and entertainment events.

Runner-up: Asbury Memorial UMC


Best Clergyman: The Rev. Billy Hester

The pastor at Asbury Memorial UMC keeps the energy level high for his creative congregation, which includes many actors just like the pastor himself.

Runner-up: Cam Huxford


Best Private School: Savannah Country Day

Still in a league by itself.

Runner-up: Savannah Christian Preparatory School


Best Public School: Savannah Arts Academy

Balancing academic achievement with pre-professional level arts education and programming. Simply put, smart kids putting on fun shows!

Runner-up: Jenkins High School


Best Principal: Lynne Brown, Blessed Sacrament

This first-time winner of this very competitive category credits -- as any good and smart principal will -- everyone else but herself.

"It's really a group effort," Brown says of the increasingly highly-regarded profile of this already well-respected local Catholic school at the corner of Victory Drive and Waters Avenue. "We have a wonderful faculty that works very hard for different ways to do things, and to do things better."

Contrary to the stereotype of a musty, hidebound Catholic school that teaches the same way the Jesuits did in the Middle Ages, Brown says times have changed. "We're actually very much on the cutting edge," she says. "We're revising our curriculum every year, making sure it's developmentally appropriate. In the olden days teachers walked in the room, closed the door and just taught within the classroom. But we talk to one another. There are lots of opportunities to meet and discuss."

Her motto at Blessed Sacrament is "Give ‘em to us when they're four and we'll give ‘em back to you at 14, ready to do anything they need to do in life." However, Brown stresses that their focus on mastery of key objectives means they don't rush students along.

In return, parents have really responded. "They volunteer above and beyond," Brown says.

As for herself, Brown says her job is made much easier today by the fact that, unlike most principals, she was a counselor before stepping into the top spot.

"As a counselor, you really learn how to listen to people," she says.

Runner-up: Julie Gannam, Isle of Hope Elementary


Best Tour Company: Old Savannah Tours

You name it, they got it: Paula Deen tours, ghost tours, pirate tours, and more.

Runner-up: Savannah Fun Tours


Best Street Character: The Sign Guy

Charles Moody still warns of "the big lie." It's a pretty versatile cause.

Runner-up: Guitar Bob



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