Eating locally in Kent

Robert Thomas Young

The summer flew by quickly, and another fall semester at Kent State is upon us. A new academic year brings with it a lot of new students, activities and quite a few painted walls this year. It also brings more local choices for coffee and food.

While a certain unnamed franchise coffee company and a slew of chain fast food restaurants seem to occupy a good portion of Kent’s eating and drinking choices, there are still a lot of local options for those that want to support local companies.

With the economy getting worse, all the foodborne outbreaks and large companies reducing standards, more and more people are starting to shop locally. Not only does your money go to the local economy, you often get a better product or experience.

First off is the coffee. New workloads, extra studying and morning classes demand it. Everybody wants his or her caffeine fix. There are a lot of convenient places to grab a cup of joe, but not all are locally owned or operated.

Scribbles Coffee, a small, eclectic coffee shop on Water Street, has a wide selection of coffee drinks and teas. There is a room in the back with some couches and chairs, and they have a great selection of old books. The employees are very nice and the place has a great vibe.

If you are looking for fresh roasted coffee, then Bent Tree Roasters is the place to go. Just a few doors down from Scribbles, Bent Tree offers coffee by the pound, which is roasted in-house. While the beverage choices are limited to hot and cold coffee, the taste is phenomenal.

They also offer fair trade coffee and a great conversation about their craft. The cold-brewed coffee on ice has a smooth taste I’ve never experienced at any coffee shop.

If your stomach is grumbling, and the same old burgers and fries aren’t cutting it, Kent has quite a few local eateries with great food.

The Dancing Beta, which offers sushi and hibachi, is located at Acorn Alley off Main Street. This place is local, and the food is fresh and amazing. The tempura veggie roll is deep-fried and crunchy, and it is fantastic.

If your hunger is calling for Mediterranean food, then Laroush on Franklin Street is where you want to go. They have an excellent vegetarian selection, including falafel wraps, hummus, salads and smoothies. While the place is a little small and you may have to walk down the street a little, the food is amazing, and it doesn’t get much more local than this.

When 9 o’clock on Friday rolls around, I’m always in the mood for a fat tostada with extra guacamole, and Taco Tantos on the corner of Main Street and Franklin is the local place for your favorite Tex-Mex grub. The stuffed burritos are huge, and even the taco sauce is homemade.

If you want to get a little adventurous, then you should stroll down Water Street to Dr. Greenbee, where they sell everything from composters to organic beer kits. They offer free classes on things like cheese-making and gardening, and they even have a water refill station for bicyclists.

There is a growing trend of small business in Kent, and it is important to go out of your way to support local business. The best way to find out the best local place is just to get out there and drive or walk around.

While local businesses may not have the great locations that large corporations can afford, it usually doesn’t take much more than turning the corner to find a great local restaurant or business. If you have a great experience with a local business, you should write about it and send it in.

Robert Thomas Young is a senior philosophy major.

Contact him at [email protected].