A cut above the rest: The best of Kent


Water Works Family Aquatic Center

Location: 2025 Monroe Falls Ave.

Phone: (330) 971-8433

General admission: $12

Stater rating (out of five): * * * * 1?2

As soon as I walked into Water Works Family Aquatic Center, I could tell it was no ordinary swimming pool.

Water Works includes a lazy river, four water slides, a sand play area and several geysers that spout water everywhere. For guests who would rather relax, there is a grassy area away from all of the action and another shaded picnic area that can be reached by crossing a scenic bridge.

My favorite part of Water Works is the 560-foot-long lazy river. Both single and double rafts are available, and children and adults can lounge while they float down the river.

The main swimming area is where the slides and geysers are located. There are two large water slides – one covered and one uncovered, both more than 150 feet tall – and a second set of covered slides where two guests can race each other. There is also a short, wide slide for smaller children.

There are geysers and waterfalls everywhere, but my favorite is an elephant that sprays water out of its trunk. And for those who are worried about safety, there were at least 10 lifeguards on duty between the lazy river and the main swimming area.

Active guests, particularly those with children, would enjoy Water Works, but for those who are looking for a relaxing afternoon, Water Works would not be ideal. It is crowded and noisy, and there are no quiet swimming areas to lounge in the water and relax. It is also relatively expensive for a day pass, although season passes and resident discounts are available.

— Jessica Lentine


Susan’s Coffee and Tea

Location: 623 E. Main St.

Phone: (330) 677-0101

Stater rating (out of five): * * * *

Reminiscent of Central Perk, the cafe where the characters of “Friends” would often meet to talk over a cup of coffee, Susan’s was the coffee house I enjoyed the most.

The environment gives off an intellectual feel. It is the type of place where professors and students can come to debate politics, discuss their days or do homework. As I was sitting and drinking my latte, I felt like I was in a restaurant straight out of the 1800s.

I like Susan’s because it is not over-commercialized. While it does have items for sale such as coffee beans and mugs, they are arranged in a decorative way. Starbucks tends to be pushy in the way it markets its products. The outside patio is occupied mostly by smokers, which is not my cup of tea — or should I say coffee — but it does offer a great view of front campus.

One of my favorite aspects about Susan’s is a chess set built into a table. Also, it offers a 10 percent discount with a Key to Kent card, and if you buy 10 cups of coffee you receive the 11th one free.

The price of the latte was fair, and I received the same amount as I did at the other coffee houses. Although the sandwiches are all priced reasonably at $5.75, I thought $3.75 was a little much for one slice of cheesecake.

The latte I ordered tasted better than the coffee at the other places I visited, thanks to a shot of vanilla flavoring. It was rich and creamy, and the foam lasted all the way to the bottom of the cup.

Overall, I chose Susan’s as the best coffee house in Kent because of its unique environment and delicious coffee.

— Heather Scarlett


Susan’s Hair Design

Location: 360 E. Summit St.

Phone: (330) 673-6400

Price: women $22, men $15

Stater rating (out of five): * * * *

Scissors are utensils. Like forks, most do the job despite their make or model. So when you’re getting your hair cut, the important aspect is not material. This is beneficial to Susan Faust of Susan’s Hair Design, because her barber chairs were the least comfortable of any I sat in. But Faust herself makes up for the chairs’ shortcomings.

She smiles, she listens, she talks about the Edwin George paintings on the salon walls. She’s magnetic.

Co-worker Meghan Krutz said she’s like a counselor.

“People sit in the chair and belt their hearts out, and Susan will listen and give advice,” Krutz said.

Situated in a windowless room on the first floor of Kentway Apartments, Faust’s salon — and psychotherapy center — is small, cozy and clean. It’s kind of like a closet, she said.

Though the salon is located in an apartment building that houses the elderly, Faust said customers of all ages are welcome. Appointments should be made in advance.

— Steve Bushong


Franklin Square Deli

Location: 108 S. Water St.

Phone: (330) 673-2942

Stater rating (out of five): * * * * *

Franklin Square Deli has been a local favorite for more than 20 years. So it is no surprise that it is my top choice as well.

Franklin Square Deli’s subs are made the way a sub should be. The seeded bun was loaded with seasoned, tender meat and crisp vegetables. Customers may choose to heat up their subs as well. At $4.80, the sub was worth every penny.

Service was fast and friendly, and the workers asked each customer how everything was as they left the restaurant.

The racing art and photography displayed on the walls are fun and interesting, even for those who are not racing fans. And customers can always expect a televised race. It was nice to be able to enjoy my sandwich in a fun and friendly environment.

While the tables on the sidewalk are a nice touch, they are a little too close to sidewalk and street traffic. But this is a very minor gripe of a nearly perfect eatery.

The combination of delicious sandwiches, good service and a unique racing theme will have customers speeding back to Franklin Square Deli often.

— Dan Stroble


Evergreen Chinese Buffet

Location: 1665 E. Main St.

Phone: (330) 673-8882

Stater rating (out of five): * * * * 1/2

The one place that seems to get it right in both taste and price is the Evergreen Buffet near Quizno’s in Kent. For such a small price ($5.99 for lunch, $8.99 for dinner) one can eat as much delicious Chinese food as they desire.

For a buffet, I would think the food would be quickly thrown together, and the taste would be only so-so. Not the case at Evergreen.

Everything was good. The sweet and sour chicken was tender, and its sauce stood out from other places by having some kick to it. The same can be said for the General Tso’s chicken; although not quite as good as China City, it had enough spice and sweetness to go above and beyond what’s expected from a buffet. The vegetable fried rice was a dish that, at other restaurants, didn’t taste good on its own but was something at Evergreen that, I found, could stand on its own or help accent any other food’s taste.

Along with the appetizers are traditional desserts, such as gelatin and pudding, but also great tasting items such as the sugary sweet Chinese donut. So adding the price, taste and portions given for all of the restaurants, Evergreen stands out for not only quality food but also quality service, where drinks are refilled quickly and customer satisfaction is clearly imperative.

— Andrew Gaug


Stoddard’s Frozen Custard & Yogurt

Location: 1321 W. Main St.

Phone: (330) 673-2991

Stater rating (out of five): * * * * *

Although I enjoyed all of the ice cream shops I visited, I would rate Stoddard’s Frozen Custard and Yogurt the best ice cream in Kent for a few reasons. There are many ice cream, sorbet and yogurt flavors customers can mix and match with various sundae toppings. I also enjoyed the fun environment. When I walked into the lobby, I felt like I was at a carnival because of the colorful pictures of its specialties hanging on the walls and the game machine that children gathered around.

Stoddard’s provides quick service, as well as an indoor lobby where customers can wait to order. I also like the convenience of Stoddard’s because it has its own Web site (www.stoddardsfrozencustard.com) If students bring in their Kent State student ID, they get a 10 percent discount on their purchase. I considered the price of $2.85 very reasonable for the size of the sundae I received.

On the downside, the patio is located in the front of the building close to a four-lane street, which makes conversation difficult. I also feel that there is not enough shaded area on the patio.

— Heather Scarlett


Zephyr Pub

Location: 106 W. Main St.

Phone: (330) 678-4848

Pros: great atmosphere, selection, juke box , seating, artsy, wall-to-wall hipsters

Cons: first floor gets packed, hard to move around, smoky, wall-to-wall hipsters

Service: good

Live music: yes, local artists

Two floors: Yes, upstairs bar (currently under renovation)

Outside: yes, best patio in Kent and porch upstairs

Specials: yes, monthly domestic beers, mixers, shots

Food: no, despite formerly being a vegetarian restaurant

Stater Rating (out of five): * * * * *