Akron Vinyl Records Article

February 5, 2012

Check out this article on vinyl records stores in the Akron Area in the November 2011 issue of Akron Life.


Akron’s Favorite Slider

September 26, 2011

Hamburger Station
2685 Manchester Road
(330) 753-4100

3275 State Road
(330) 920-1036

710 Canton Road
(330) 733-7303

Akron has its fair share of burger joints. Dilly’s, Skyway and Swensons have made their mark with sweet sauces and stacks of caramelized beef. Hamburger Station takes burgers in a different direction. Their tiny slider-like sandwiches are big on the bun and heavy(!) on the raw Spanish onions. Oh, and don’t even think about adding ketchup. The restaurant’s founder, Jim Lowe, wouldn’t stand for it.

Lowe was only 14 when he ran away from his Nashville home in 1938 and hitched a ride with a rubber salesman.
Little did he know that his car ride would end here in Akron, where he quickly found a job slinging burgers at Thacker’s, a restaurant in close proximity to Goodyear. After several years in front of the griddle, Lowe decided to strike out on his own and take Marvin Thacker’s recipe with him. The result was Hamburger Station, which in a few years had over sixteen locations.

The tiny chain was purchased by Akronites John and Art Michaels, who entertained the idea of expanding to Cleveland and beyond. Unfortunately their dream didn’t come to fruition, but luckily the little sandwiches are still around.

Hamburger Station prides itself on fresh food, even stating in the past that they do not have freezers in their restaurants, only fridges. In fact, most locations have large sacks of onions and potatoes on display and you can watch as employees use potato cutters for their french fries. Back in the old days the restaurants had more of a country-western theme, complete with saddles at some tables instead of chairs.

Film Sandwiches

August 29, 2011

Mr. Zub’s
812 W Market St.

Mr. Zub’s chef Micah Townsend loves movies. In fact, every dish in his restaurant is named after a film or film character. Now his newest creation, The Akron Film Burger, is available to the public. The sandwich is in honor of the 2011 Akron Film+Pixel Festival (formerly the Akron Film Festival), which will take place at the Akron Art Museum (1 South High St., Akron, OH) October 6-9, 2011.

“We try to use our vast knowledge of modern and independent films to create a memorable experience to go with our fresh food,” said Townsend. “This is a great sandwich and we want customers to associate it with our local film festival.”

The Akron Film Burger is a vegan spicy black bean burger, made to order with a wide variety of different toppings. It will join the Mr. Zub’s menu for a limited time among the ranks of The Kid (Film: Bad Santa; deep fried jalapeno cheese ravioli stacker), The Thurgood Jenkins (Film: Half Baked; tater tots, sour cream, chives, nacho cheese and bacon) and The Dirk Diggler (Film: Boogie Nights; a giant hot dog with onions, slaw, mustard and chili).

The Akron Film Burger is $6.99 and will only be available through October 10, 2011. The full list of Akron Film+Pixel Festival films, panels and parties will be available on September 3, 2011 at www.akronfilm.com. Festival passes are on sale now.

(Editor’s note: I’m the dude to the left in the photo and am co-director of the Akron Film+Pixel Festival)

Peace, Love, & Light

August 3, 2011

Peace, Love and Light, Inc.
841 N. Main St.
Akron OH 44310
(330) 535-5683

In the early 1980s Gary Saus planted an acorn on his North Main St. property with the hope that it would represent the foundation of his new business. For the following decades he operated The Acorn Grows, a metaphysical shop that was an anchor for many Akron residents seeking more knowledge about their ideologies.

Although the Acorn Grows closed in 2001, the storefront has been revamped and re-imagined by Lisa Marie, the new proprietor who describes herself as a “Sea Otter of the Universe” on her business card. The new shop sells books, stones, candles, artwork, clothing, and more. The business also hosts regular events such as astrology study groups, candle magic, and spiritual development.

The location additionally serves as a meeting place for Lisa Marie’s second operation: the Abundance-R-Us Food Co-op. For a $10 fee members can purchase fresh produce, delivered on a weekly basis.

While the business now has a different name and new proprietors, it still has the mighty oak out front, planted by Gary Saus so many years ago.

The Akron Blimp Burger

July 17, 2011

426 East Exchange Street
Akron, OH 44304-1864
(330) 535-2276

Pints is your pretty average college hangout located across the street from the University of Akron, but they do have several Akron-themed items on their menu that aren’t listed on their Web site. The Akron Blimp Burger (pictured above) consists of two half-pound patties with a mound of lettuce, onions, pickles, your choice of condiments and served with a half-pound of fries.

They also have “The Akronator,” a pizza totally crammed with pepperoni, salami, capicola (a cold cut made from pork shoulder or neck), provolone, mozzarella, jalapenos, onions, green peppers, and a garlic sauce.

Pass the Pepto, please.

Skaters vs. Street Punks

July 5, 2011

Akron Skate Park

Open from dawn until dusk
-Take I-77 South (from Downtown Akron)
-Take exit 129 to merge onto I-76 W toward I-277/Canton/US-224
-Take exit 18 on the left to merge onto I-277 E/US-224 E toward Canton
– Continue onto US-224 E
-Turn left onto George Washington Blvd
-Turn left onto Springfield Lake Blvd
-Take the 1st right onto Massillon Rd
-Destination will be on the left

In 2001 the City of Akron Recreation Bureau opened a skate park next to Derby Downs and the Blimp Hanger where skaters could legally practice their craft without damaging private property. It’s a 19,000 square foot sweet spot of fiberglass-reinforced concrete with pyramids, rails, and quarter pipes that give local gals and guys a great place to thrash.

The park has some fantastic street art, including the Cobra logo seen above, but unfortunately some punks have sullied this spot, spray painting racial epithets and depositing a ton of litter around the site.

Luckily Akron resident Randy McIe and his stepson Joey Osco-Sadzewicz are stepping up to the plate and organizing a community effort to rid the park of hateful graffiti and clean the spot for skate artists to craft their skills.

You can read about their efforts in this article by the Akron Beacon Journal’s amazing Stephanie Warsmith.

Update – July 17, 2011

You can read about the effort to clean the skate park in this new article in the Beacon Journal by John Higgins.

Thirty Years of BMX Racing in the “Heart of Akron”

June 6, 2011

(Sorry for the poor photos. The track was closed when I stopped by, but I thought these YouTube videos—posted by someone else—would give you a good idea of what the track looks like. The regular post follows.)

Akron BMX
1000 Massillon Rd
Akron, Ohio 44312
Only open during designated practice and event times (see schedule on their Web site)

So far this summer I’ve covered places where you can buy greasy burgers and chili dogs as well as drive-in theaters where you can sit on your duff and consume even more food. Now that the weather is totally gorgeous it’s time to get outside and enjoy the few months of sun that we can.

Akron BMX is a nonprofit organization that started in 1981 (according to their official site, but other sources say 1975) to give people of all ages the chance to participate in a physical family activity and to (eventually) made use of a barren piece of property near Derby Downs in the shadow of the blimp hanger. The track was designed for competitive biking events and to provide a structured spot where bicycle enthusiasts can make some sweet jumps without destroying someone else’s property. It has plenty of ramps and hills as well as stands for spectators.

The track is open to the public during practice times, which are posted on their Web site, but hosts races each week from May to October. The site is also available for birthday parties and other rental events.

When I visited the other day it took me back to my childhood in the ’80s when my friends and I used to ride all day and return home at night to watch the movie Rad.

That Fountain on West Market

May 21, 2011

Shady Park (AKA Neptune Park, AKA J. Alexander Park)
Corner of West Market Street, Aqueduct Street, and West North Street
Akron, OH

West Akron’s Shady Park is just a sliver of the grand recreation area that gave residents a place to picnic, catch a musical performance, and escape the smoky factories on the Eastside.

J. Park Alexander, a wealthy and prominent Akronite who found his fortune in the fire-resistant brick business, lived directly across the street on a large plot of land where a McDonalds now exists. Alexander donated a fifteen-foot fountain that was installed in the center of the park, which was later fenced in and became a central gathering place.

On June 16, 1893 the city held an opening day party, complete with speeches by politicians, a marching band performance, and a large fireworks display. Akron’s park commissioner had the fountain in mind when he decided on the name Neptune Park, a reference to the Roman god of water and the sea.

After Alexander passed away in 1908 the park was renamed Alexander Park. Less than two decades later the fountain was removed after the area fell into neglect and began to decay. In 1965 Life Magazine ran a photo of Neptune Park from its heyday (see above), prompting locals to chip in and start restoring the busy corner. In 2002 the City of Akron and the organization Keep Akron Beautiful collaborated to install a new brick walkway and a replica of Alexander’s original fountain, which was installed on July 25, 2002. A portion of the newly-restored garden was dedicated in memory of those who died on September 11th.

Price, Mark; Akron Beacon Journal, June 25, 2000.

Keep Akron Beautiful and City of Akron

Homemade Rootbeer on the Go

May 16, 2011

For years I thought that the B&K Root Beer Drive-In on Wilbeth Road was the only one around, but it turns out that B&K used to be an Indianapolis-based chain that started popping up in the mid-west during the 1950s. Since then the numbers have dwindled and the franchisees eventually became independent owners. There are still three B&K locations in the Akron area, with a few variations on their names and menus. Although each drive-in has a slightly different design and bill of fare, they all share the distinction of brewing their own root beer, which can be purchased in mugs, quarts, half gallons, and full gallons. All three locations only take cash.

B+K Drive-In
725 East Wilbeth Rd.
Akron, OH 44306
(330) 724-6101
On Wilbeth you won’t find a hamburger in sight. It’s a hot dog-centric location best known for its Tuesday-Wednesday special: the 99-cent Spanish hot dog (it has a fun meaty taco sauce). They also have the kraut dog, the bean dog, foot long pizza dog, and a “cheese joe.” Oh, and they also have Akron’s signature food: the sauerkraut ball.

B-K Root Beer Drive-In
3946 State Rd.
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223
(330) 928-5973
The State Rd. location offers many items not available on other Akron-area B&K location menus. Their signature sandwich, the 2000 Burger, is very similar to what you would find on a Big Mac: two patties, special sauce, cheese, lettuce, pickles. They also serve a grilled bologna sandwich (for you salt hounds out there), a German sausage sandwich, mac ’n cheese (both fried and not), and a wide variety of other side items.

B&K Root Beer
737 Munroe Falls Ave.
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221
(330) 922-3355
Travel a few miles down the road to the Munroe Falls location where they are known for their homemade Coney sauce. These six inch wieners are on special on Sunday for 99 cents. They do have burgers, but only on Tuesdays.

It’s Dilly’s, Yo!

May 8, 2011

Dilly’s Drive-in Restaurant
1921 Triplett Blvd.
Akron, OH 44312
(330) 798-0170

Triplett Boulevard is one of those special streets that can provide a true “Akron experience.” You can see the Goodyear Blimp hanger, the Rubber Bowl, Derby Downs, and watch planes land Akron Fulton International Airport all from your car at Dilly’s Drive-in. In the years since it opened in 1986 this independently owned eatery has made its name known for their tasty Dilly Burgers and Dilly Dogs.

The Dilly Burger follows the classic Akron recipe that you will find at Swensons: tarter and barbecue sauce. Both drive-ins have a similar taste, but are not identical. You should definitely test them both. The Dilly Dog is a quarter pound wiener with Coney sauce and coleslaw. Don’t forget to wash it all down with a California soda or a Dilly’s Twist. Other menu favorites include their popular chili, the Sea-Dog Fish Sandwich (it’s a footlong as well), and the veggie sandwich.

Dilly’s is only open from around mid-March to late-September, so make sure not to miss it this season. They have recently expanded hours to stay open on Sunday and are now accepting credit cards.

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