Ray’s Place now taking submissions for book of memories


File Photo. Photo by Coty Giannelli.

Britni Williams

After 75 years of business, the Kent icon Ray’s Place is looking to collect memories of the establishment.

“There’s a lot of history here, and it’s been an integral part of this community,” owner Charlie Thomas said.

Pat O’Connor, associate professor of teaching, learning, and curriculum studies, went to Thomas last year with the idea of collecting memories for a book about Ray’s Place.

O’Connor said he was amazed at the customer loyalty to Ray’s Place and it sparked the idea for the book.

“It just struck me how interesting it was that people had such an affection for the restaurant,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said when he approached Thomas about the idea last year he was immediately on board.

Thomas has been the owner of Ray’s Place for 34 years and still enjoys his job.

“No two days are the same,” Thomas said. “I’ve never been bored a day in my life since I’ve been here.”

He said it was the people, both customers and employees, who have made Ray’s Place such a success.

“Seventy-five years in the restaurant/bar business is a long time, and it’s been a staple in Kent,” Thomas said. “When people walk in here, I think they feel like they’re walking into part of history…The people have made this place.”

B. J. Melin has worked at Ray’s Place for 16 years and agrees that it’s the people that make the place.

“Everybody’s like a family here,” Melin said.

Contributions to the Ray’s Place book project will be accepted until August or September and can be submitted on the Ray’s Place website. O’Connor said the book should be published sometime in Spring 2013.

O’Connor said he’s very interested to see how the book turns out.

“We have the shell,” O’Connor said, “but we really don’t know what’s going to be in it.”

O’Connor’s son, Patrick, will be doing the illustrations for the book.

Sarah Ferrato, a bartender/server at Ray’s Place for three years, said she has fond memories of the establishment.

Her favorite memory is of her first employee Christmas party at Ray’s.

“It was surreal to see everyone out of their element,” Ferrato said. “Charlie is an amazing owner, and he’s great to work under … If business isn’t good, he still keeps us going.”

O’Connor said the proceeds of the book will go towards the entrepreneurship scholarship that Ray’s Place sponsors at Kent State.

On Ray’s Place website, there is also a competition to name the book.

“Anywhere you go,” O’Connor said, “if you’ve got a Kent State shirt on, someone will ask about Ray’s.”

Contact Britni Williams at [email protected].