Kevin Price, host of the nationally syndicated Price of Business show, grew up in the Detroit, Michigan area. And he is a fan. He makes frequent visits to enjoy the great outdoor experiences (in the non-winter months), the professional (and college) sports, and the Coney Island hot dogs. Often, especially, the hot dogs.
“I love Coney Island hot dogs. They become even better when one knows the story behind those hot dogs,” Price said. The Detroit Historical Society notes:
“A Coney dog is a beef frankfurter in natural casing, nestled in a soft, steamed bun. Its topping of an all meat, beanless chili, diced white onions, and yellow mustard distinguishes it from the ordinary hot dog. 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.
“While no one place can definitively claim to be the birthplace of the Coney dog, Michigan, by sheer volume and duration of its Coney restaurants, makes a strong bid. Detroit’s famous Coney dog restaurants, American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island, followed Todoroff’s Original Coney Island in Jackson, Michigan, which dates its beginning to 1914.
“In 1917, Gust Keros, a Greek immigrant, opened American Coney Island on West Lafayette Street in downtown Detroit. A few years later, in 1924, he brought his brother William to Detroit to help. Keros’s brother opened Lafayette Coney Island when space opened up next door. The businesses have operated continuously in the same locations ever since.” So the Coney began in Detroit? Makes sense to us.
Kevin Price has frequented both of the Lafayette locations and he argues that the latter one is best and is the gold standard for all Coney Island dogs. When he visits a city — wherever it is — he checks to see if they have Detroit style Coney dogs. They are hard to come by, and most don’t deserve to claim the name. It is funny because he passionately pursues these restaurants when he hears about them, but he is typically disappointed when he makes a visit. Recently he visited a place in the Houston area that was a very pleasant surprise. He heard about the Midwest Coney Connection and had to check it out immediately. He wasn’t disappointed.
Price said “this place is legit. The people who own the place are from the Detroit metro area (Flint, Michigan) and the restaurant offers a broad variety of dogs that appeal to tastes from all places known for their own unique style.” It even offers a Detroit “pop” favorite — Faygo! The big test for Price, however, was how would the Detroit style Coney taste? “This dog was excellent, it is — hands down — the best Coney I have had outside of the Detroit area. It actually ‘snapped’ when you bit into it” (a clear sign of an authentic Coney). According to Price, this dog offered the “perfect balance of its own special chili sauce, mustard, and onions that make the customers feel like they are in the Motor City.”
Houston has a significant number of people from Michigan. Whenever a major recession hits the Great Lakes State (a pretty common phenomenon for several decades now), it is not at all unusual to see a plethora of Michigan license plates in Texas cities like Dallas, Austin, and Houston. Texas has long enjoyed continued economic growth and has long been a magnet for those looking for opportunity. But those who make the move to Houston from Michigan that miss the hot dogs the Motor City is known for, can find a great “visit home” at one of the Midwest Coney Connection locations.