Best Place to Cure a Hangover
First Place - Mike’s Place
If you’ve just had a night to remember (or you can’t remember a thing), it’s only fitting that you have a meal you’re sure to remember the next morning. Mike’s Place has helped students soak up spirits for the past 32 years with big portions and plenty of options.
With nearly 60 items to choose from on their breakfast menu alone, it's hard to beat Mike’s on a Sunday morning or afternoon. Don’t worry about not sleeping off the spins because breakfast is served all day.
And don’t skip out on the bread because Mike’s Place has over 40 sandwiches to choose from that you won’t find anywhere on campus. For example, their "Son of Chuckie" is a composition of peanut butter, chocolate chips, bacon and potato chips held together by two pieces of hearty grilled Texas toast.
Owner Mike Kostensky tries to fill up his guests' stomachs as much as possible.
“A lot of people right now are cutting back portions. I’m so tired of going to a restaurant and you leave and you have to stop at Taco Bell on the way home because they’re hungry,” Kostensky said.
Second Place - Wild Goats Cafe
Right on the edge of downtown Kent sits a morning and early afternoon staple of the community. Wild Goats Cafe keeps things “weirder” for their guest coming in with a headache and feeling a bit groggy.
A look at their menu will have you wide awake in anticipation for their creative meals.
Wild Goats’ Someth’n Someth’n comes with two pancakes spread with peanut butter sandwiched with blueberries and granola and topped with more blueberries and granola.
Or if some spice is what you need to get back to sobriety, their Chorizo Omelette will do the trick with avocado, onion, pepper jack cheese and salsa.
Third Place - Tree City Coffee & Pastry
If you feel that your stomach can’t handle a massive influx of food after your night out on Saturday, Tree City Coffee has you covered.
The organic ingredients from sustainable farms that go into their coffee make it an easy choice if you’re looking for something light and non-alcoholic to combat your hangover.
Lauren Heroux, the general manager of Tree City, said they anticipate extra business on weekend mornings and stock up supplies so you’ll find yourself in good hands here along with the friends you went out with the night before.
First Place - Mike Haney, Water Street Tavern
Known for his bad puns and affinity for creative drinks, Mike Haney of Water Street Tavern brings enthusiasm to work.
“I genuinely like the people that come in to the bar,” he said, “and I think that makes it easier for them to like me too.”
Before starting at Water Street, Haney tended a bar in the famous Athens, Ohio bar scene. He noted the differences between the two college towns, describing the Kent bar-hopping scene as more of a “regulated schedule.”
“People start at Ray’s, then they’ll walk around to The Loft or Zephyr, and then they come to Water Street at the end,” he said. “So we get very busy in a rush of things, instead of a gradual climb over the night.”
Haney becomes super-efficient when the crowds are swelling.
“At this point I’ve been bartending long enough to take multiple orders and make multiple drinks at one time,” he said, “but I think that the creative stuff is more fun, and interacting with people is more fun.”
During his four years at Water Street, Haney has accumulated some wild stories, but none more off-the-wall than the time rapper 50 Cent visited the bar.
“We had our security staff escort him in and everything and make sure he was safe. And I think the one thing he said to them was about how bad they smelled. And they do,” he joked.
Haney is consistently ranked among Kent’s top bartenders because he cares about what he does and who he serves. He smiles while talking about Halloween night, when customers have to remove elaborate costumes to get ID’d at the entrance, and the morning after Saint Patrick’s Day, when he finds dozens of lost credit cards scattered around the bar.
In his spare time, Haney practices yoga and rock climbing, two calming activities that carry over into his attitude at work. He stressed the importance of having friendly conversations with his guests: “We’re just like glorified therapists.”
Second Place - Alex Daly, Water Street Tavern
Another outstanding bartender from Water Street Tavern, Alex Daly says customers recognize him as a friendly face in the establishment.
“It doesn’t pay to be mean,” Daly said. “I enjoy interacting with my guests more than just serving them and telling them to leave.”
He has fun at his job and brings a lot of friends to the bar, which may inflate his reputation at the place, he joked.
Daly started his bartending career at Brubaker’s Pub in Hudson and came to Water Street a year-and-a-half ago. His favorite drink to make there is the “Golden Flash,” and he said a lot of people ask for fruitier shots like “White Gummy Bears” and “Vegas Bombs.”
There is a friendly competition among some of his coworkers to win local bartending awards, and Daly said he’s honored by the recognition.
“I’m excited because I know that Water Street has a pretty good reputation for being one of the more popular bars with the better bartenders and more-liked bartenders.”
Third Place - Ashley Linke, Loft
Ashley Linke started bartending at The Loft Tavern shortly after she entered legal bartending age. That was only a couple years ago, and she’s already in the upper echelon of Kent bartenders.
“It’s fun,” Linke said. “I get to talk to everybody, and I never shut up, so I get super personal with everyone.”
She said customers remember her because she makes an effort to remember them.
“I always talk to everybody and actually take the time to get to know what people like,” she said. “I remember what everyone always gets.”
First Place - Water Street Tavern
College life is stressful, and Dante Campbell, the general manager for the Water Street Tavern and Kent State graduate, knows that. That’s why he and his staff work hard to make the bar the best place to unwind in Kent.
With a $2 happy hour every weekday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and $1 Ladies Night on Tuesday, Water Street Tavern has drink specials that are hard to beat.
What sets the bar apart from its competitors is the consistent party vibe it provides for the guests who all want to let loose and have drinks with friends.
Campbell said an important part of making sure this happens is to stay attentive to what college students are into. If a new Drake song comes out on Wednesday, it’ll be playing at the bar on Saturday night.
A popular drink that groups of customers order are Water Street’s fish bowls. A drink meant to be shared with friends that contains 12oz. of multiple liquors serve inside a plastic fish bowl.
Variations include the "Blue Raspberry," the "UV," the "Mongolian" and the "Golden Flash."
To keep the party vibe contagious, Campbell said that it starts with the staff and their relationships at the tavern.
“Everything we do here is family like, and that's what keep people coming through the door. It keeps us growing. You see the staff having a good time and that intact makes you have a good time and enjoy yourself,” Campbell said.
Second Place - Ray’s Place
If you’ve gone to Ray’s to grab a burger or wings, you’ve also put yourself in one of the best places to grab a drink or two in Kent.
Ray’s Place has been putting smiles on people’s faces and drinks in their hands since 1937. Whether you’ve come to watch a Cleveland Indians’ game or meeting up after a show at the Kent Stage, Ray’s has the spirits and attitude to match your night out.
The big drink on everyone’s mind when they go to Ray’s is their famous Long Island.
On any given Saturday, manager Kayla Allen says the bar will crank out over 1,000 of these cocktails.
Third Place - Zephyr Pub
Much like the how the name implies, Zephyr Pub takes its guests to a place high above the normalcies and stresses of work and college life. With a well decorated and furnished outdoor patio and multi-level deck, Zephyr houses an environment unique to other bars and pubs downtown.
With a new $2 beer special every month and karaoke nights, the bar continues to give the people of Kent more reason to visit their favorite three-floor bar.
Best Coffee Shop
First Place - Tree City Coffee & Pastry
Quality coffee and an inviting atmosphere are what you will find at Tree City Coffee & Pastry, located on East Erie Street in downtown Kent.
Founded in 2011, this coffee shop has been a favorite in the community for both its versatile menu and its modern design.
One of the things that makes Tree City appealing to college students is that it functions as a relaxing workspace.
Students are able to bring their homework into the shop and study at one of the many tables, all while enjoying a cup of coffee.
From the drive-thru window to the layout of the shop, Tree City was designed to fit the needs of students, Evan Bailey, one of the owners, said.
Even the menu, Bailey said, has been influenced by the students.
Tree City offers different frappes, lattes and macchiatos.
Some of the establishment’s most popular drinks are maple lattes, seasonal specials and the “Fresh Mint Cold Brew.”
However, this coffee shop is not just known for its beverages; Tree City serves breakfast sandwiches, made with New York bagels and a variety of toppings, all day long.
In addition, gourmet peanut butter sandwiches, such as the “Honey Nut Crunch,” a sandwich consisting of freshly ground peanut butter, granola and honey, and “The Stelvis,” which is made with honey roasted peanut butter, sliced bananas, honey and bacon, are popular staples.
Second Place - Scribbles Coffee Co.
Taking second place is Scribbles, a charming coffee shop located on North Water Street.
Scribbles has been a staple in Kent since it opened in 2002. Serving an assortment of handcrafted mochas, lattes and cappuccinos, Scribbles is bound to have something for every coffee lover.
“It (Scribbles) is not the newest but that’s part of what makes it comfortable,” said Jennifer Richards, one of the owners. “We are the oldest coffee shop in town, and we love when students feel right at home.”
The most popular items on the menu are the junior bolts, which come in flavors like dark chocolate, honey ginger and caramel spice.
Containing two shots of espresso, half-and-half and organic spices, junior bolts “give you a jolt but not all the sugar,” Richards said.
Third Place - Bent Tree Coffee Roasters
Opened in 2011, Bent Tree Coffee Roasters offers the Kent community a peaceful atmosphere, as well as fresh coffee made with high-quality ingredients.
“I think it’s a nice environment to focus,” said shop manager Brenna Rettberg.
Since people typically come to Bent Tree to buy bags of coffee, it isn’t too loud or crowded, which makes it the ideal location for catching up on homework, Rettberg said.
Some of Bent Tree’s most popular items are the French pressed coffee and the handcrafted lattes.
First Place - Ray’s Place Long Island Iced Tea
Ray’s Place Long Island Iced Tea remains in first place as the best cocktail in Kent.
A boozy twist on the classic iced tea, the 16-ounce drink is made with a combination of rum, vodka, gin, tequila and Triple Sec.
Instead of working from a mix, each iced tea is made from scratch with raw ingredients, so each customer gets their own unique flavor.
“It would probably be easier and less expensive (to use a mix), but there is a difference when you actually make it the way it should be,” said Charlie Thomas, owner of Ray’s Place. “It’s just so much better.”
Second Place - The Loft’s Incredible Hulk
Jumping from third place last year, The Loft’s Incredible Hulk is Kent’s favorite superhero cocktail.
The drink, which is known for its vibrant green color, is made with 7-Up, Grizzly Energy Drink and a shot of vodka.
Third Place - Venice’s Moscow Mule
Making its first appearance in Best of Kent, Venice’s Moscow Mule is a drink made with love.
The drink is a concoction of the bar’s own house ginger beer and vodka, and it is never mixed. Bartenders cut and squeeze the lime right in front of the customer with every order.