The Oldest Coney Dog Restaurant In Michigan Is In Kalamazoo
Michigan is basically the capital of coney dogs in the country, with a lot of focus being put on Detroit, as they're home to the American Coney Island (Est. 1917) and their neighbor and brother-restaurant, Lafayette Coney Island (Est. 1924).
But as historical and legendary as these two are, those from the Detroit Metro area may not realize that the longest-running coney island restaurant has been operating in Kalamazoo for 107 years, since 1915.
Coney Island Hot Dogs is a staple of Downtown Kalamazoo and many have shared their stories online with them of the memories of that long-standing presence in the city:
Started eating at Coney Island in the early '60s. My Dad was a Kalamazoo city policeman and got paid every two weeks. Luckily, Dad had been eating there since he was a kid. He'd tell me stories of the owner betting he and his brother: if they could eat 25 coney dogs they wouldn't have to pay! They did it and came back for lunch the next weekend. Also, he said the owner would carefully put the leftovers into a bag gently set on top of the garbage can. Kalamazoo history wouldn't be the same without you!
Where Does The Coney Dog Come From?
The Detroit Historical Society explains that although it's named after the New York attraction location, the origins are still somewhat unknown:
It’s a misconception that the Coney dog also called the Coney Island hot dog, originated at Coney Island, New York where Nathan’s popularized the basic frank in a bun. As one story goes, Greek immigrants passing through New York and its famed Coney Island, appropriated the Coney Island name for their Coney dog version.
Regardless of where they came from, Michigan has embraced them as its own, and we have some legendary spots in the state where you can get these amazing pleasure foods.