Ray’s Place remains the “go-to” place in Kent. Now in its 85th year, People from around the area, from Kent and from Kent State University continue to meet up with family and friends. Lively conversation, good food and many beverages are always on the menu at Rays.
Ten years ago, the book “Meet Me at Rays: A Celebration of Ray’s Place in Kent, Ohio” was published in honor of the 75th anniversary. The book chronicled the 75 years of success using the memories from happy customers and employees who frequented Rays. The following story is a good indication that memories from happy customers are still alive at Rays. As the author, I am amazed at the amazing things that continue to happen at Rays. Dr. Patrick O'Connor - Life-Long Learning Connection
Eric and Colleen Morgan were featured in the book “Meet Me at Rays” published in 2013. The book chronicled the 75 years Ray’s had been the “go-to” place in Kent, Ohio for locals and people associated with Kent State University. The author ( Pat) used 200 stories/memories from customers and employees as the basis for the book. Ray’s is celebrating 85 successful years in 2023.
The most common story Pat received related to meeting someone special at Ray’s Place. Often, these meetings were random. As a result, he decided to select a story related to a random meeting to open the book. Eric and Colleen’s random meeting was selected as it captured so much of the affection customers have about Rays. Plus, it happened during the Christmas season when Ray’s is all decked out for the holidays. The author notified them that their memory was selected to appear in the book.
They had told all their friends and family they were being featured in a book about Rays. After buying a copy they searched for their story expecting to see it in the section titled “Rays and Romance”. Somewhat disappointed when they didn’t see it, they went back to the beginning of the book. After a few minutes reading Colleen told Eric, “Here it is. It’s the opening story.” They were thrilled and to see their first meeting in print made the event even more special. Each year they return to Ray’s on December 9 to relive their first meeting. Here’s the story.
“It was December 9th, 1991, when I opened that wooden door, and it was as if time stood still. It seemed like the voices and music stopped as my eyes connected with a guy across the bar. Several hours later I realized he was next to me at the bar. The rest is history. I don't remember how the conversation started but I knew this was the love of my life. He proposed the following May, and we were married in December of 1992. Every year on December 9th we return to Ray's and sit on "our" bar stools (second and third from the door). Each time I open that wooden door and see those Christmas bulbs hanging from the ceiling it seems like time stands still again. Thank you, Ray’s--see you in December”. (Morgan, ’90).
Pat and his friend Bob attended a KSU basketball game and went to Rays afterward for a beverage. As usual, it was very festive with all the Christmas decorations. Their conversation wound round and round for some time. Pat was thinking about early December and the couple who had met at Rays and return each year to celebrate their chance meeting which led to marriage. Pat asked Bob what the date was. Bob said December 9. He told Bob about the Morgans and their story to kick off the Rays book. Pat said since it’s December 9 they will be coming here tonight.
At this point, Bob excused himself for a men’s room break. Pat stood up to stretch a bit and looked at the door and saw a guy who had just entered. It quickly registered to him that Eric or someone who closely resembled him had just walked in. He marches over to the door to see if it really is Colleen and Eric. They make eye contact and wow, it is them! They hadn’t seen each other in a few years so it took a moment to give it the “it is you” greeting. A grand reunion celebration ensued, and everyone was thrilled at this unexpected happy moment.
About this time, Bob returned from the men’s room. Pat saw him coming and couldn’t believe what he was about to tell him. He says, “Hey, look who’s here. The people I was just telling you about. The Morgans are here again”. “What - no way.” Bob said. Pat reminds him of what he said just a few minutes ago. Bob stands in disbelief and is totally stunned with a capital S.
Pat introduced Bob to Colleen and Eric and tells them, “ I just told him a minute ago that you guys would be coming in at some point since it’s December 9 and here you are”. Everyone laughed at the randomness of the events. It was a bit ironic considering another random moment followed the original random meeting.
They sat together for some chatter and abundant laughter. Bob kept repeating, “I can’t believe this”. For the next hour or so the Morgans were the evening celebrities of Ray’s Place. Customers and workers alike celebrated with them on their 33rd anniversary visit to Rays Place. They will be there again next year on December 9 so pop in and celebrate with them if you wish.
Thoughts from Eric and Colleen
We love the article and recap of that evening. You captured the flavor and more importantly, the aspect of “coincidence” and “fate” that typifies our meeting 33 years ago along with our meeting last week.
Bob's thoughts – Still hard for me to believe the timing of it all. Bob and his bride Lisa appear on the cover of “Meet Me at Rays”.
Pat’s thoughts – I am continually amazed at the amazing things that happen at Ray’s Place.
Patrick J. O’Connor is the lead consultant for 3LC. He designs and conducts most of the services associated with 3LC. He is also associated with several consultants and trainers who specialize in other learning- related subjects. These topics can be discussed as needed. He has leveraged his many years of scholarly experience in higher education to work with organizations to improve employee performance. He has served on the faculty at Kent State University, The University of Georgia, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and New River Community College. In addition, he is an active marketing, training and leadership consultant to business and educational organizations. He is the author of two collegiate marketing textbooks and numerous professional journal articles and monographs, the You Know America book series and “Meet Me at Rays; a celebration of 75 years of Ray’s Place in Kent Ohio”. He also writes a feature column for aroundKent Magazine titled “The Road Less Traveled”. His bachelor and master degrees are from Bowling Green State University and his doctorate is from Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Susan, have four adult children. They reside in Kent, Ohio.