One of the things I love about Kent is the fact that there’s interesting people with interesting stories in the least expected places all over town. Most of us don’t know about them because we don’t take the time to look — so as the new guy in town I get to play the role of Indian Scout who runs out ahead and reports back what he finds. Kent’s a treasure hunt with unique and quirky tid bits tucked in behind every turn — and the more you look the more you find. In a city of best kept secrets Kent’s cast of characters, including Carl Picelle owner of Franklin Square Deli in downtown Kent, won’t disappoint you.
Franklin Square Deli
Here’s what you probably already know —
Franklin Square Deli established itself twenty years ago, 1983, at its present central location, downtown, on the corner of Water and Main Streets. The Deli style restaurant was a natural succession to a similar operation located in neighboring Ravenna’s downtown district, which operated for five years. From the beginning, the menu focused on fresh, cut to order sandwiches, made directly in the approving view of the customer.
The popular Italian style full loaf submarine sandwiches have been the mainstay of the business for the entire duration. Year upon year, nearby Kent State University students and faculty have found their favorite delicatessen craving at “The Deli.” Sometimes featuring as many as fifty different sandwiches on the menu, you can always find a favorite amongst traditional servings such as piled sky high juicy Rubens or a deli mainstay, soft fresh bagels, packed with your favorite ingredients and made to your exacting standards. Franklin Square Deli grew up on 7-day a week service to the community and remains open 360 days of the year, closed only for major holidays. Alcohol is not favored at the restaurant, so a fun, family atmosphere is always present.
Finding the most ‘sub’sational sandwich in Kent
Dan Stroble, Daily Kent Stater
Sub sandwiches are one of the most common and inexpensive foods available, especially in a college town. For the fifth installment of Rate It!, I visited three restaurants that specialize in subs to find out which has the biggest, most flavorful Italian sandwich.
I chose to review one local shop and two franchises to decide which is better – a unique, small-town atmosphere or a run-of-the-mill chain restaurant.
Franklin Square Deli
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.
Franklin Square Deli
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. To go along with the theme, there are also stipple drawings by Kent artist Jerry Gambaccini for sale, and customers can always expect a televised race. It was nice to be able to enjoy my sandwich in a fun and friendly environment.
And on a nice summer day, customers can take their sandwiches outside to one of the tables under the shade.
However, although 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.
Here’s the Interesting Part of the Story —
Carl Picelle, owner of Franklin Square Deli in downtown Kent, has a passion that goes beyond sandwiches and subs. He also loves cars – fast ones. Picelle competes in Amateur Club Racing, driving a red 1985 Porsche 944 boasting the logo from his business. He said unlike NASCAR, where cars race around an oval track, club racing involves driving on actual roadway with hairpin turns, hills, and dips. He said the average race is between 60 and 80 miles, but the track itself is only two or three miles long; so each race involves 20 or more laps.
He said road racing has its roots in Europe and the sport is very popular there. He said the interest is similar to America’s interest in NASCAR. “This type of racing is less about speed and more about skills, such as maximum braking and cornering,” Picelle said, “My car can reach speeds of 135 mph, but I only go that fast on the straightaways.”
Picelle said he took special courses to get his competition license, which he just obtained last year. Since then, he has competed in 11 races throughout the region; including Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. “I got interested in racing when I was 12 and my best friend’s dad took us to the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course in Lexington,” he said. “I have been a spectator ever since, but it’s always been my dream to participate.”
Picelle said there are different divisions and various classes within the divisions. He races with the Porsche Club of America in the club racing division’s stock class. He said it took him six races before he won three out of the last four races he competed in, including taking first-place in both the sprint and 90-minute endurance competitions at Road America in Wisconsin over Labor Day Weekend.
He shyly admits his impressive record that includes three first-place finishes, three second-place finishes, and finishing in the top 10 in the remaining five races. “The first time I raced, it was such a rush. I was really nervous but the danger aspect disappeared as soon as I took the wheel,” Picelle said. “But nothing could compare to the feeling I had when I won my first race. To see that checkered flag, that was a great feeling.”
His passion has been passed on to his fiancee, Valerie Mazzola. Picelle said she travels with him to all the races and has begun performing crew duties, such as taking measurements and temperatures and keeping statistics. He also said Mazzola uses his car to compete in Auto Cross racing, which involves timed events in large parking lots. She is the current leader in the ladies class where they compete. He said there is no money involved in amateur racing but winners get either a trophy or certificate. He said he hopes his collection keeps growing. “This is an expensive sport and I can’t compete as much as I would like because of the expense, but I love every minute of it,” he said. “this is a dream come true.”
His love of racing is reflected in his restaurant’s decor – pictures or race cars and sports cars adorn the walls. And in case you were wondering, those pictures were done by a Kent Artist, Jerry Gambaccini, but he’s a best kept secret for another day.
Send me your own favorite best kept Kent secret and I’ll get it posted! Thanks.