Ray’s wins our hearts six times over

The Ray’s Place staff keeps busy behind the bar Tuesday night during the Indians vs. Padres game, April 8, 2014.

Lindsay Miller

Best Place for a First Date, Best Restaurant, Best Burger, Best Place to Bring Your Parents, Best Drink Selection and Best Bar.

The votes are in, and an old local favorite bar and grill has once again topped the charts. Ray’s Place, a well known downtown bar and restaurant, has proven to be the favorite in multiple categories, winning six first-place awards and three second-place awards.

The local bar, established in 1937, has been voted, for the second year in a row, as the best place for a first date, best restaurant, best burger, best place to bring parents, best drink selection and best bar.

“This is fantastic,” Ray’s Place owner Charlie Thomas said. “I think it’s great that students feel this way about Ray’s [Place]. It’s just excellent.”

Ray’s Place customer and Kent State student Kyle Smith enjoys the selection of drinks and a simple meal.

“When I eat at Ray’s [Place], I like to get a cheeseburger and I really enjoy the french fries,” Smith said. “Ray’s is known for its huge selection of beer on tap because they always change out their seasonal beers. They even have bottled beer and I believe they even have a wine list.”

For the month of April, Ray’s Place added 14 new beers to their list. There are 64 taps between the two floors of the bar and an extensive list of bottled beers including domestics, craft brews, imported beers and hard ciders.

Ray’s Place was featured on the Food Network show, “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” which featured the Mo-Fo Burger. The Mo-Fo Burger is a Ray’s Place original — a cheeseburger topped with bacon, sautéed mushrooms and “the works.”

“The Mo-Fo Burger gets the most publicity,” Thomas said. “Just a few weeks ago, the Food Network ran the episode with us and that night after it ran, we had people from all over coming to Ray’s [Place] for food.”

Along with the Mo-Fo Burger, Thomas said they sell a lot of Bleu Cow and classic cheeseburgers.

Ray’s Place customer Jimmy Priscilla agreed that it’s a great bar.

“My wife’s best friend is a bartender here,” Priscilla said. “Food is good, people that work here are friendly and it’s better than Buffalo Wild Wings now. It’s a great bar for anything from having dinner, watching the game or just hanging out for the evening.”

Priscilla said he loves the history and memories Ray’s Place holds.

“Every time I visit Kent, I make this one of my stops,” Priscilla said. “It is one of the only bars that still shows what old Kent was, and I love it.”

Thomas, Ray’s Place owner since 1978, said the restaurant holds many favorite memories for him as well — from his first day as owner to the everyday interactions with employees and customers and those who have had a lasting effect

“Gerty was a legendary cook,” Thomas said, thinking back. “She cooked for the original Ray’s owner and cooked for me for two and a half years when I took over. She was in her eighties at that time so she is certainly a very fond memory.”

Gerty’s photo is now hanging above the downstairs serving window, hanging alongside Michael Symon’s photo, who also had an effect on Ray’s Place with his feature of the restaurant in the Food Network Magazine.

Ray’s Place is open seven days a week and offers a great atmosphere for a first date, game time or to grab a bite to eat.

Contact Lindsay Miller at [email protected].