Best restaurant


Emma Van Winkle

Ray’s Place was voted first in Best of Kent’s Best Restaurant category. Ray’s Place is located at 135 Franklin Ave.

Aaron Cousin, Reporter

FIRST: Ray’s Place

Ray’s Place cooks up the top spot for another year in a row. Whether it’s students eating with parents, residents stopping by for a warm meal or friends watching the big game, Ray’s Place can feed them all with a multiple-page menu. 

Owner and manager Charlie Thomas said the business being in Kent for a long time has contributed to its success. 

“We’re a staple. We’ve been here a long time, and we provide a service you know, where people can come and gather and meet and socialize and have good food and drink,” Thomas said. 

Customers can choose from a variety of menu options, from chicken wings and gyros to wraps and “Gerty’s Homemade Chili.” 

“Our whole menu sells, it really does,” Thomas said. “We sell a lot of burgers, of course, fries. We sell a lot of chicken wings. We sell salads. We sell a lot of appetizers.
We just sell a lot of everything, but those are some of the heavy, heavy items.”

The menu variety reflects the long history of the establishment.  

“Well, it’s been around since 1937,” Thomas said. “It’s old. People have been coming here from Kent State forever, their kids come here, their grandkids come here.” 

Thomas said his restaurant has been successful for years because he and his staff emphasize a welcoming environment and great customer service. This is why customers keep coming back, he said. 

 “I think there’s a little bit of longevity, but also, even though you have longevity, you have to do your job,” Thomas said. “You have to do it right, and you have to give a good product to your customer. You have to treat them well too. All that combined is why I think they come here They have a good time.”

SECOND: Mike’s Place

At Mike’s Place, customers can try “Spongebob’s Krabby Patties,” the “Mommy I have a Tummy Ache & Should have Eaten at Home” sandwich and a “Basket of Butt Naked Kraut Balls,” among other unique-named choices. 

Mike’s Place opened in Kent in 1987 and serves all-day breakfast, dessert and dozens of other food options.

General manager Cody Kostensky said the restaurant is known best for its reubens, waffles and burgers. 

“Reubens [are] probably the most popular,” he said. “We got a Joe Mama’s waffle, it’s like an overstuffed waffle. College kids love that a lot. Any of the burgers here are really good. They’re all fresh.” 

Emily King (left) and Alexa Snyder (right) talk over lunch at Mike’s Place, located at 1700 S. Water St. (Janson McNair)

Kostensky said it is nice to be a part of the community and to see Kent State students take their families out to eat at the restaurant. 

“You got all their families whenever they visit,” he said. “They always stop here – it’s sort of like a destination. Families come back, they get to come back here. It’s cool seeing that.” Kostensky said. 

Kostensky said Mike’s Place is special. Nearly every inch of its walls are covered in posters, history and pop culture memorabilia, and the outside features an X-wing from Star Wars and a castle. 

“We’re unique,” he said. “We’re family owned, and all the employees here are family, basically. We all have known each other forever and just wherever you get to sit, you’re either in a bus or a boat or an Irish Pub,” Kostensky said. “There’s just nowhere else like this. 

THIRD: Belleria

Belleria Pizzeria, which serves Italian classics, offers more than 12 specialty pizzas. 

The restaurant has the best pizza around, according to front of house manager Robin Anderson. 

“I’m not a big pizza person, but this place made me love pizza,” he said. 

Anderson said Belleria’s interaction with the community is unique. 

“What’s really special about Kent is that we’re in Kent, so we really get to interact with all of the local customers of course, and then also the university,” Anderson said. 

She said one of her favorite parts of being involved with the university is reaching out for events by helping with donations, gift cards and raffle baskets.

“One of my favorite things about working for the owner [Tom Gavozzi] here is that he really cares about the community, and he reaches out to people to make sure that we’re kind of taking care of people as best we can as a local business,” Anderson said.

 Jacob Schneider preps chicken at Belleria, which is located at 135 E. Erie St. (Janson McNair)

Anderson said the quality of Belleria’s food separates them from other pizzerias and restaurants. 

“We have fresh, homemade dough every single day,” Anderson said. “Like most restaurants, I would assume … the quality’s really important to us. That’s something that we pride ourselves in.”  

Aaron Cousin is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]