Places to eat around Kent

Deli known for speedy service

Racing cars, fast motorcycles and speedy fast service are all terms that can be used to describe Franklin Square Deli. With pictures of race cars on the walls and a black-and- white checkered counter, the atmosphere fits the quick-paced environment.

“You can come in and get a quality sandwich in a few minutes,” said owner Carl Picelle.

The deli, located in downtown Kent at the corner of South Water and Main streets, is still a thriving business after 25 years of service.

“We’re very busy here when school is in session, as well as in the summer,” Picelle said.

Customers wind in and out of the line getting subs in moments. The little deli is filled with young people, working people and people sitting on the patio conversing. Rory Moushey, assistant professor of English as a second language, sat at the checkered counter.

“I’m a big fan of racing and I’ve been coming here all of my life,” Moushey said. “I remember this place being built when I was about 3 or 4 years old.”

He said the atmosphere is one of the reasons he keeps coming back to the deli.

“I like that you can see onto the street and that they have reading materials for customers,” Moushey said. “You can also eat outside.”

Picelle said he follows a working owner philosophy. He can be found behind the counter almost every day. If he isn’t there, he is probably out catering a party.

“I want to serve the best product to people and give them more than they expect for their money,” Picelle said. “I want to make sure customers are satisfied.”

The menu includes subs in 6-inch or footlong sizes. Prices range from $4.15 to $14.95. Combos include a beverage and the choice of chips, cole slaw or potato or macaroni salad.

The deli also serves breakfast items, which range in price from a 70-cent English muffin to a $5 breakfast sandwich. A menu is available online at

Franklin Square Deli

108 S. Water St.

(330) 673-2942

Monday through Saturday:

10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact relationships reporter Amanda Egut at [email protected].

A healthy beverage option

Thirty-second meals with five servings of fruit and ingredients to boost energy and smarts as well as to help hangovers.

This is what Pulp Juice and Smoothie Bar offers customers. The smoothies, which use real fruit and 100 percent juice, are designed as meals.

“It’s a simple and quick alternative to fast food,” said Pulp owner Tom Knepp.

With brightly painted walls, modern music and wireless Internet, Pulp is more than just a drive-thru, it’s a place students can come with friends.

“It’s close to campus so students can come here and use the Wi-Fi to do their homework,” said Pulp manager Marie Castilow.

Knepp, a marketing graduate from Kent State, created Pulp three and a half years ago.

“This area was lacking a lot of options,” he said

Along with smoothies, Pulp offers a selection of wraps. Unlike many fast food places, Pulp doesn’t throw away food because it uses frozen foods that never go bad, Knepp said.

Pulp is geared towards a fun, upbeat crowd that is a little less than 50 percent students. About 70 percent of workers are students.

“It’s a young crowd, and I have made a lot of friends working here,” Castilow said.

Pulp offers customers a drive-thru or walk-in experience. Customers can grab a quick smoothie for the road or enjoy a sit-down meal with friends.

“I just want everyone to try it once,” Knepp said. “I have been drinking smoothies for a while and now I am addicted. We have a lot of regular customers that come in four to five times a week.”

Pulp Juice & Smoothie Bar

1708 E. Main St.

(330) 677-0355

Monday through Friday:

7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday:

9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Contact principal student affairs reporter Katie Garland at [email protected].

Good options at good prices

Panera Bread provides catering and pick-up options, but it also offers plenty of indoor and outdoor seating for meeting with large groups or relaxing with a friend.

Located approximately three miles west of Kent State in Stow, Panera is a café and bakery style restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“The atmosphere can be intelligent, inviting and peaceful,” said Amanda Knorr, a University of Akron student. “It’s a very good place to study and/or hang out and just relax.”

Youngstown resident Melissa Morris said Panera is one of the best places to go for all three meals because it’s affordable and fresh.

Ordering a drink and a sandwich or a You Pick Two combo at Panera will cost approximately $8, store manager Jamie Harp said.

Morris said she likes to go to Panera with friends to socialize over one of the frozen coffee drinks or smoothies.

“Sometimes all I want to get is a drink, and that’s perfectly OK at Panera,” Morris said. “You can sit there and talk for hours and no one will ever give it a second thought that you’ve been there for the entire afternoon.”

Harp said Panera provides Wi-Fi service, so guests are welcome to bring their laptops to surf the Web or work on homework.

Some of the most popular menu items include frozen coffee drinks, You Pick Two soup, sandwich and salad options, breakfast soufflés and cinnamon crunch bagels, Harp said.

Morris said she enjoys Panera’s strawberry smoothies and the Italian combo sandwich with a bag of chips. She also enjoys the restaurant experience as a whole.

“The atmosphere is excellent,” Morris said. “Everyone feels comfortable when they go inside.”

Panera Bread

4338 Kent Rd.

(330) 475-0503

Monday through Thursday:

6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Friday and Saturday:

6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact regional campus reporter Rebecca Odell at [email protected].

Mexican food and local fare

Colorful walls, local art and festive music invite visitors into Taco Tontos in downtown Kent.

Taco Tontos is a Mexican restaurant that cooks with real homemade ingredients and local flare.

For the past 23 years, owner Maureen Gartland has brought her special flavors and spices to the Kent palate.

“When I first started it, it was exotic for Kent,” Gartland said. “It’s Mexican food with my unique twists. You can’t get what I make anywhere else.”

The menu consists of burritos, tacos, tostados, taco salads and a variety of chips and salsa or guacamole. Homemade mild and hot sauces complement any dish.

While the restaurant does not have a signature dish, the numerous burrito flavors make for unique combinations and flavors.

“I really like our burritos,” employee Random Gregory said. “You can mix and match flavors like sweet potato and black bean. Everyone loves our burritos and once people try one, they always come back.”

Besides the food, Taco Tontos is known for its atmosphere. The local art and colorful decorations give it a Southwestern feel.

“It’s just not like any corporate or even any other local place,” Gregory said. “The restaurant is personalized and very local. It’s just relaxed and a fun environment.”

The food and atmosphere make Taco Tontos a Kent staple. After it resided in the Loft for almost 20 years, it has moved next to the Zephyr so it can be open all day for customers.

“It is easy to go right past us and not stop,” Gregory said. “If you want to experience a part of Kent, definitely stop in and just try a burrito. Once you try one, you’ll be back.”

Taco Tontos

123 Franklin Ave.

(330) 677-0223

Monday through Wednesday:

11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Thursday through Saturday:

11 a.m. to midnight.

Sunday: closed

Contact police and courts reporter Shannen Von Alt at [email protected].

Former depot puts forward fresh food

Kent’s Pufferbelly Ltd. Restaurant and Bar may not have trains to feed, but owner Kevin Long hopes to continue the 27 years of tradition of good food and friendly service that has made the defunct train station-turned-eatery a Kent landmark.

Long said it never fails to surprise him when he or his employees are out of town and meet people around the country who know the Pufferbelly.

“It’s a landmark,” he said. “They put us with Kent.”

Contrary to some opinions he’s heard over the years, Long said the Pufferbelly is not about fine dining. Prices are comparable to Ray’s Place, which is located across the street, and to other chain restaurants. However, unlike at chain restaurants, Long explained the Pufferbelly’s ingredients are always fresh – never frozen or partially pre-prepared.

Long said making meals from scratch means the time from placing an order to tucking into a plate of pasta or salad may take a little longer than at some restaurants, but the quality is worth it.

Using fresh ingredients also means the restaurant can feature seasonal dishes and some unusual house specialties. In fact, it’s not unusual for guests to call ahead and ask Long if it’s possible for the kitchen to make a dish that is not regularly on the menu or may have been a daily special weeks before.

The restaurant’s emphasis on giving the customer what he or she wants extends beyond the food. The dining room’s walls are covered in Kent memorabilia, while antique carriages are suspended from the ceiling.

Long said independent restaurants like the Pufferbelly hold a special, if fading, place in towns and cities like Kent across the country. But cultural importance aside, Long said his guests have just one reason for coming back.

“It’s a good price for a good meal,” he said.

PufferBelly Ltd. Restaurant & Bar

152 Franklin Ave.

(330) 673-1771

Monday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tuesday through Thursday:

11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday through Saturday:

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday: Brunch served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m, dinner from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Brittany Moffat at [email protected].