Acorn Alley II makes progress with the opening of Zoupwerks


The inside of Zoupwerks, which refers to itself as a “funky soup and chowdah joint.” Photo by Caitlin Restelli.

Caitlin Restelli

A “funky soup and chowdah joint” opened its kitchen for business Saturday in the developing Acorn Alley II.

Zoupwerks has a retro ‘70s atmosphere that Andrew Roland, 25, did not expect.

“It’s certainly funky, that’s for sure. I wasn’t sure what funky would mean, since it says ‘the funky soup and chowdah joint,’ but it’s definitely got the funk,” Roland said. “I like it.”

After starting the first Zoupwerks in New York, Randy Durant, Zoupwerks owner, brought it to Champion, Ohio four years ago. Now, he decided to share his soup and sandwich creations with Kent.

“This is a place of passion. It’s an independent place,” Durant said. “I don’t care if I were to franchise out to 30 places or 100 places, I would always keep it to the extent of being someone that is involved with each and every operation.”

Durant said the idea of the restaurant was loosely lifted from the infamous “Seinfeld” Soup Nazi episode.

The Soup Nazi, which aired November 2, 1995, was about a soup stand owner who obsessed about his customers’ ordering procedure. Despite the Nazi’s obsessiveness, people lined around the block because the soup was so good.


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Larry Thomas, actor of the Soup Nazi, corresponds with Durant occasionally, and sends him pictures saying “Eat at Zoupwerks,” and “No Soup for you.” Durant said he may try to have Thomas make an appearance at the new Kent location to help “pimp the place.”

Henry Halem, 73, and his wife Sandy Halem, 67, of Carthage Street, came out to support the restaurant’s opening.

“We’ve been looking forward to it opening,” Henry said. “We’ve got another choice of lunch and place to eat, and we decided to give it a try.”

After splitting the pulled pork sandwich, which was piled high, and trying Durant’s homemade New England clam chowdah soup, the two agreed it was well worth coming out for the opening.

“I thought it was excellent, it was very good,” Henry said. “It met my expectations.”

Sandy said she and Henry wanted to be one of the first to try the new joint.

“We’ve been here for 43 years,” Sandy said. “We’re excited about everything downtown.”

Other businesses such as Popped!, a gourmet popcorn shop, and Tree City Coffee are set to open up by early November next to Zoupwerks.

“I think it’s really very exciting to see this and the downtown becoming a real downtown,” Henry said.

Contact Caitlin Restelli at [email protected].