Sunday, May 22, 2011

CHARMING EVENING IN MASSILLON

Most people living in the Akron/Canton area would no more consider a weekend getaway to Massillon that they would to Ravenna.  No disrespect to those in Ravenna or Massillon, but tourism isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind when considering either of these close-to-home cities.

Thanks to an invitation by a co-worker who co-manages the Hampton Inn in Massillon, I was to spend Friday night at the hotel to do a sort of inspection of the property.  Believe me, I'm no secrect shopper, but Alan figured it's always good to have a fresh pair of eyes when considering overall property cleanliness, staff hospitality, etc. 

I invited my friend Nancy to join me since she is a world traveller and always good for an opinion or two.  Neither of us had been to Massillon for more than an evening a couple of years ago when a few friends ventured down for an F Scott Fitzgerald event at the local library and a showing of The Great Gatsby at the old big screen theater.

Before heading south we both did a little research to find out what we might find to fill our evening and although the pickings were a bit slim, we did manage to have a very pleasant evening.  To our favor, the weather cooperated with us and it was a warm, dry night so that we could wander on foot until well after dark.

GALLERY OPENING RECEPTION
The hotel staff had some recommendations for dinner and we already knew that we were going to visit the MassMu (otherwise known as the Massillon Art Museum) for a gallery opening of their Studio M exhibit by local artist Diane Belfiglio.  We had been to the MassMu during our last visit to veiw paintings on exhibit by Zelda Fitzgerald so we were familiar with the museum.  Located in the center of town in an unassuming building, the museum is one main gallery on the ground floor and a small gallery (called Studio M) in the lower level.  Taking in the entire exhibit space set us back about 25 minutes. 

We then contemplated walking over to the old theater which was hosting the movie 84 Charing Cross Road but determined that the evening was far to lovely to spend it sitting in the theater.

OUT FOR DINNER
We took a stroll along Lincoln Way (Massillon's main street) peering into store front windows and getting the lay of the town.  We walked back to Kozmo's Grille for dinner which is directly across the street from the hotel on First Street SW.  The food at the restaurant was pretty good and extremely filling.  We began with an appetizer of their Santa Fe chips that came with an overenthusiastc serving of jalepeno peppers.  These are house made chips topped with melted cheese, bacon, tomatoes, jalapenos, and scallions.

Nancy also had a cup of French Onion soup followed by a bowl of Cilantro-Lime Linguini with Cajun Shrimp and Scallops and I tucked into one of their Stone Hearth Pizzas, theTuscan, made with pepper jack cheese, grilled chicken, roma tomato, red onion and fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction sauce all of which was very good.

All of that being said, the service was extremely slow and disorganized.  Our waitress mananged to ask us if we were ready for refills and hadn't bothered to actually take our drink order yet.  The restaurant was not filled and yet we were seated in the back of the place next to the ladies room even though I specifically asked for a table in the front near a window.  We also had front row seats to the wait staff station where our perky little gal spent most of her time flirting with the male staff.  Good food and poor service tends to make for a mediocre meal.  If we manage to get back to Missillon at dinnertime again I think we'll find somewhere else to go.

EVENING STROLL
After dinner we dropped my boxed up pizza at the hotel and headed back out onto the streets.  We walked through the close by residential streets taking in the old Victorian-style homes and the churches along the way.  Once it got dark we stopped by the Chit Chat Coffee Shop next to the MassMu where we sat outside and listened to local sax player Patrick Munford play jazz on the patio. 

The only other two enjoying the al fresco performace was an elderly couple that kindly invited us to come back on the 4th Thursdays of each month to listen to live jazz concerts at the Senior Center.  We weren't quite sure what to make of that so we put it down to just being friendly.

BAKERY DISCOVERY
Across the square from the Chit Chat and tucked into an unassuming old building, we discovered Liebermann's Bakery.  Although it was obviously closed Friday night, we made a point to stop there on the way home Saturday morning.  This is a very popular place with people lined up out the door and taking home fresh baked donuts by the dozens.  Despite my diet I could not walk out without a small purchase of one of their delicious cream sticks.  They also had freshly baked bread and rolls but the donut display was by far the most impressive. 
Because we had to be home early on Saturday, we didn't get much chance to do some other things in town we could have done.  Massillon has some beautiful murals and some lovely old homes and churches.  It will be well worth revisiting with camera in hand.  Perhaps on Fathers Day weekend when the annual Cruise In rides to town. 

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