“What a difference a year makes.

As we sent our Best of Coachella Valley issue to press in November 2020, we were approaching some of the darkest days of the pandemic. COVID-19 cases were surging; hospitalizations were starting to rise; struggling businesses were only able to operate at diminished capacity. This all continued to worsen—and on Dec. 6, Southern California was placed under a stay-at-home order that limited restaurants to takeout, closed most service-based businesses (like barber shops and salons) and limited retail capacity to 20 percent. These closures would remain in effect through the holidays and into the new year.

Today, life is much different. Yes, SARS-CoV-2 is very much still a concern and a problem, but most of us are vaccinated now, and therefore largely safe from the worst of COVID-19. As a result, we have most of “normal” life back. All businesses are open, and probably won’t be again forced to close—meaning the winners and finalists listed on these pages won’t have to celebrate their Best of Coachella Valley success behind a locked door…”

[Read the full list of winners at cvindependent.com]