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The American Coney Island is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, businesses in the downtown area (and perhaps in the entire city of Detroit) that is family-owned and operated. The restaurant has remained at the same location for 92 years.

The American Coney Island was founded in 1917 by Constantine "Gust" Keros, who immigrated to Detroit from Greece in 1903.

For about the last 65 years, American Coney Island has been owned by one of Gust's five sons, Charles "Chuck" J. Keros. Almost 20 years ago, the first and only woman, a third-generation Keros, Grace Keros, followed in her dad's (Chuck Keros) footsteps and has been managing the day-to-day business operations. Grace has been responsible for keeping American Coney Island one of Detroit's favorite traditions. When you visit the restaurant you'll see all the changes that she has made.

For about 40 years, one of Chuck's nephews, Daniel "Dan" P. Keros, served as the general manager of American Coney Island. And a fourth generation, Chris Keros (Dan's son), now runs the night shift.

With the third generation of Keros' actively involved in the American, the perpetuation of the family tradition and business is virtually assured well into the twenty-first century!

The American Coney Island Hot Dog has been a favorite with Detroiters and visitors for nearly a century. As Detroiters have moved to other parts of the country, and as visitors have returned to their respective states, the American's reputation has spread throughout the country. Over the years, the American has received countless requests from people who wanted to have the Coney Islands shipped to them - either for their own restaurants, their own consumption or for parties or special events.

One of the most-frequently-mentioned comments that former Detroiters who have moved out-of-town say is: one of the things they miss most about Detroit is Coney Islands from the American Coney Island downtown on Lafayette Street!

One of the reasons for the great popularity of the American's Coney Islands is the high-quality, specially-seasoned, natural casing hot dogs that have always been served at the American. Another reason is the Coney Island chili sauce which is specially prepared using a secret recipe the Keros' developed decades ago. And, of course, the topping of fine mustard and fresh, chopped sweet onions adds the final touch to the distinctive overall taste and flavor of the Coney Island hot dog which is served in a warm, steamed bun. No wonder the American Coney Island hot dog has been such a tantalizing treat to the palate that's still hard to beat after all these years!

For years, the American has been open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This has meant that any time of the day or night, any day of the week, or any season of the year, people visiting, living or working in downtown Detroit, have always had a convenient, comfortable, friendly haven to come to in order to relax and enjoy something to eat and/or drink. And the American hopes to continue the tradition of staying open around the clock for years to come. As long as we are supported in our efforts to maintain a clean, safe haven for our patrons.

In 1989, the American took a major - and in some people's opinion - a financially risky step by purchasing the old United Shirt building adjacent to the American Coney Island for a very considerable investment. United Shirt had, unfortunately, joined the growing list of long-time establishments going out of business. If the American had not purchased this building, chances are that this would have left one more commercial building standing vacant and neglected in downtown Detroit.

The decision to make such a major investment in the expansion of the American Coney island was based on the Keros Family's faith in the City of Detroit. As the American Coney Island grew and prospered, Gust Keros continuously impressed on his children - and later, on his grandchildren - his belief that Detroit had always been good to the American Coney Island, and the American Coney Island had always been good for Detroit. In other words, Downtown DETROIT was, is, and always will be, the location for the American Coney Island.

For perhaps only the second time in the American's history, the menu was expanded to include several exciting new, delicious items: Homemade Spinach Pie, Fresh Greek and Garden Salads, two different homemade soups, Greentown Baklava, Chili Macho, fruit yogurt, and non-alcoholic beers. The first menu expansion included: French Fries, Chili Fries, fresh, grated American Cheese, and ketchup. (The original "True" Coney Island had always been topped only with fresh-chopped onions, Coney Island Chili, and MUSTARD!) The expanded menu also brought about another first for the American - table menus! And now you can have breakfast, Gyros and fish on Fridays!

Over the years, the American has been mentioned or featured in so many local newspapers and magazines that it would be almost impossible to list them all. In addition, the American has been written about in out state Michigan newspapers, as well as newspapers in some of our neighboring states, and magazines with national distribution. Most important, virtually all of this publicity has always been completely unsolicited.

And the American has not been a stranger to television coverage. At one time or another, all of Detroit's television stations have sent camera crews and reporters to film the Coney Island for feature stories, public interest reports, etc. Some television clips of the American have even been used in various promotions for the City of Detroit. (The "Stand Up and Tell 'em You're From Detroit" promotion is just one that comes to mind)

In November 1991, Grace Keros appeared in a brief "sound bite" taken at the American Coney Island that was shown in The Today Show with Bryant Gumble. And in fall, 2008 Grace faced off against Lafayette Coney Island on The Today Show with Al Roker (see the News Page).

Then there have been the celebrities who have visited the American Coney Island. And again, it would be almost impossible to list them all. There have been Michigan Governors; State Supreme Court Justices and other judges, lawyers and a wide variety of other professionals; federal, state, county, and city officials (including Detroit Mayors and city council members); newspaper and magazine columnists, journalists, and reporters; radio and television personalities; famous movie, theater, and sports stars; popular musicians and/or music groups, etc. Just some of the well-known persons to visit the American most recently are: Ken Cockrel, Charles LeDuff (Detroit News - "Hold the Onions"), Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, Thomas Jane, Eminem, Governor John Engler, Cecil Fielder, Bill Cosby, Diana Ross, Danny DeVito, Penney Marshall, John Salley, Mike Ilitch, U.S. Representative John Conyers, L. Brooks Patterson, Roman Gribbs, Senator Abraham, Chris Chelios, Tim Allen, and Jeff Daniels. The list almost endless!

Copyright 2009 American Coney Island, Inc.
E-mail:  eat@AmericanConeyIsland.com
114 W. Lafayette
Detroit, MI  48226
(313) 961-7758


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