First floor of Ray’s Place reopens after months of renovations

Amadeus Smith

Patrons sit at the remodeled bar on the first floor of Ray’s Place in downtown Kent. CAITLIN PRARAT | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Dan Kloock

It was 5 a.m. yesterday when the bulk of the stocking was finished in the first floor of Ray’s Place.

Just six hours later, Ray’s reopened its newly remodeled first floor for lunch after four months of work.

“We had to hustle,” said Ray’s owner Charlie Thomas about the all-night bar stocking.

The remodel, which now includes new flooring, a new bar, new woodwork and windows at the front of the bar, was originally for safety reasons, he said.

The original plan included a new electrical system, ceiling and flooring. Thomas said the floor joists, the foundation for the floor, were also upgraded for safety reasons.

Thomas said, seeing as they were already remodeling the ceiling and floor, “why not build a new bar?”

The remodel also includes new chairs, tables, a stereo system and eight, high-definition, plasma, flat screen TVs.

Ray’s manager Mike Dalessandro said the additions, such as the woodwork and traditional bar, give Ray’s “a pub-style atmosphere.”

Marlin Wilcox, who has been going to Ray’s since the early ’70s, agreed, saying the bar now reminds him of the pubs he visited in Portland, Maine.

Along with new tables and chairs, Dalessandro said they have also added new draft beers such as Leffe Blonde and Stella Artois.

But the change isn’t so great that customers won’t know where they are, Wilcox said.

“It still looks like Ray’s, but upscale,” he said.

Thomas said there are still parts of the bar that have gone without change. The bar still has the shot wheel, moose head and booths, to name a few. In addition, the bar has kept the same light fixtures from 1937, when Ray Salitore opened the former Central Hotel.

“These improvements take us into the next century, but it still holds onto that (Ray’s) atmosphere,” Thomas said.

Valerie Bauer, who has served at Ray’s for four years, said the most valuable part of the remodel is the windows.

“I think everybody thought it was really dark before,” Bauer said.

The windows are an answer to the decks and patios that have been emerging at bars in Kent, Thomas said.

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said the development of patios has become popular with Kent bars and it contributes to the redevelopment of downtown Kent.

Ruller added that Thomas’s work to improve Ray’s sets a good example for the rest of the area bars, noting that he and a few other bar owners in the area are making improvements without influence from the city.

The remodeling in individual bars actually contributes to Kent’s push to revitalize downtown, he added.

“It’s not as dramatic as the redevelopment of a whole block, but it’s equally important,” he said.

Contact city editor Amadeus Smith at [email protected].