Pufferbelly to close after New Year’s Eve


Karry Stanton serves a group of customers at the Pufferbelly on downtown Kent’s Franklin Avenue on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Benjamin VanHoose

After 35 years of business in Kent, the Pufferbelly LTD Restaurant will close this weekend — but not before one last New Year’s Eve celebration.

Owner Kevin Long made the decision not to renew the lease, saying goodbye to an establishment he has been attached to for most of his life. Before becoming owner, Long held various other roles within the restaurant, starting as a dishwasher as a teen.

“It’s not the easiest business to be in (and) I’ve done it all my life,” Long said in a 2008 KentWired article, in which he expressed interest in reaching out to students for business.

Pufferbelly is a perennial pick for “Best Place to Take Your Parents” in KentWired’s Best of Kent, an annual awards competition voted on by Kent State students each spring semester.

Formerly a railroad station built in 1875, the building the Pufferbelly leaves behind is owned by the Kent Historical Society.

Mike Awad, owner of Kent businesses Laziza and the newly-opened Franklin Hotel Bar, plans to open an Italian restaurant in the venue following Pufferbelly’s exit.

Former Pufferbelly owners also had another restaurant by the same name in Erie, Pennsylvania, which closed in 2015.

Live music is expected during the Pufferbelly’s final night of service Saturday.

Benjamin VanHoose is the features editor for the Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected]