Lisa Abraham

Kent State University associate professor Patrick O’Connor is working on a book to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Ray’s Place in downtown Kent and wants input from the public.


O’Connor is seeking stories from customers and employees about the downtown restaurant and pub, a Kent landmark, which opened in 1937.


“A lot of changes have taken place in downtown Kent, but here is one restaurant that has been here a long time and has been a magnet for Kent State alumni, staff and students,” O’Connor said in a news release. “I marvel at how popular Ray’s Place is, especially during Homecoming, and the tremendous loyalty of its customers. Sharing the stories of the restaurant’s employees and customers for the past 75 years is something unique and worth celebrating.”


The bulk of the book will feature fond, funny, sentimental or weird memories shared by employees and customers, he said. Submissions can be made at www.raysplacekent.com; you can remain anonymous.


“Whether you remember going into Ray’s, but never remembered coming out, as one anonymous contributor stated, your story could help build this memory book that transcends generations,” O’Connor said.


Contributors also can suggest a title for the book, which will be published in spring 2013 by Black Squirrel Books, an imprint of the Kent State University Press. Proceeds will support the Ray’s Place Entrepreneurship Scholarship program for Kent State University’s College of Business Administration.


Owner Charles Thomas has given his blessing for the book. O’Connor teaches in KSU’s School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies.


Speaking of eating in Kent


There’s a new restaurant in town. Laziza, which features Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare, is open for lunch and dinner. Owners are Mike and Nicole Awad. The menu includes steak and seafood dishes as well as Middle Eastern specialties, and a full bar.


Laziza is in the Acorn Alley development at 195 E. Erie St., Kent. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Call 330-673-7000 or find it on Twitter: @yourLaziza.


Also in Kent, the Domino’s pizza at 1413 S. Water St. has a new owner, Karl Waller. The shop is holding a grand re-opening celebration all week, including a ribbon-cutting at 4 p.m. today and a pizza eating contest Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Phone 330-673-6360.


Wedding cake tasting show


Attention all brides: The Reeves Cake Shop wedding cake show is this weekend.


This annual event attracts thousands who come out to sample flavors and see more than 50 cakes on display. Show hours are Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. each day. The event is free and no reservations are required.


Reeves Cake Shop is at 2770 Cory Ave., Akron, call 330-848-1036 for more information.


Owner Rick Reeves also has some exciting news to share. His bakery is now shipping cakes anywhere in the country. Cost is $49 plus shipping to send an 8-inch cake, which serves 10 to 12. Cakes are shipped Monday through Friday. Visit www.shipacakeusa.com for details or find the link at www.reevescakeshop.com.


Reeves is also offering local delivery for all of its cakes, Monday through Saturday, starting at $7.50.


Medina chocolate fest time


It’s time for the 15th Annual For the Love of Chocolate Festival sponsored by the American Red Cross of Medina and the J.M. Smucker Co.


This year’s tasting event is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 4, at the Medina Performing Arts Center at Medina High School, 851 Weymouth Road. More than 40 vendors will be offering samples of cakes, cookies, candy and many other chocolate dishes.


The festival includes a children’s chocolate cookie contest, a decadent dessert contest, a children’s candyland with games and amusements and a bake sale. Chocolatiers also sell Valentine’s Day gifts.


The baking contests will be held at Buehler’s River Styx Community Room on Feb. 3. Entry forms are available at local Buehler’s stores, libraries and the Red Cross, and must be submitted by Jan. 30.


Tickets are $12 (10 samples) and $7 (five samples). Children age 4 and younger are free. Tickets are available at the Medina County Red Cross, 780 E. Smith Road, as well as all Medina County Buehler’s Stores and Discount Drug Marts.


For information, contact Beth Kilchenman at 330-723-4565 or 877-441-4565, or visit www.medinaredcross.org.


All proceeds benefit the Red Cross to help families during emergencies.


Chili contest in Norton


The Norton Firemen’s Association is hosting a Chili Cook-Off on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Norton Community Center, 4060 Columbia Woods Drive, Norton.


If you want to enter your chili, call 330-825-9072 or email kzita83@gmail.com. It’s $5 to enter with prizes for hottest and most unique chili as well as chief’s choice and people’s choice.


A $5 admission gets you unlimited samples of the chili. Children under age 6 get in free. There also will be cornbread, hot dogs, chips and beverages for sale.


Hometown Buffet closes


The Hometown Buffet in Jackson Township has closed as part of a corporate restructuring of its parent company, the Minnesota-based Buffets Inc.


The company has declared bankruptcy for a second time, and is closing more than 80 restaurants. Buffets Inc. operates restaurants under the names Hometown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s, Country Buffet, Fire Mountain and Granny’s Buffet. In November, the company closed its Ryan’s location on South Arlington Road.


Lactose-free ice cream


Pierre’s Ice Cream in Cleveland has just announced the addition of lactose-free chocolate and vanilla to its lineup of flavors.


The ice cream contains an enzyme that breaks down the lactose, for consumers who can’t eat ice cream due to lactose intolerance. Look for it at stores that sell Pierre’s.


New Panera drive-through


Covelli Enterprises has opened a new Panera Bread restaurant with a drive-through at 1670 W. State St. in Alliance. The location has free Wi-Fi.


Lisa Abraham can be reached at 330-996-3737 or at labraham@thebeaconjournal.com.