Coney Island celebrates 85 years

Jim Economou the 80-year-old owner of downtown Tulsa’s Coney Island Hot Dog Shop told Tulsa Today he only expected to be doing this for thirty years or so.  It has been longer.

His restaurant

is the one place in downtown Tulsa where everyone meets in old school chairs most adults carefully negotiate to use without regard to station. 

Side by side they come; millionaires by paupers, judges beside criminals, Cowboys by Rap-misters, young and old love the classic fast food Tulsans know as “THE” Coney Island Hot Dog.

Economou is surprised by longevity, but his father’s recipe has lasted through the Great Depression, World Wars both hot and cold, and now the Obama Depression.  Today, Coney Island marks 85 years in business.  

The shop celebrated with discounts and cake and chocolates.  This writer arrived early and ordered six Coneys for myself and others.  Just tell fellow office workers you are going to lunch at Coney Island and see how many want you to bring a “few” back.

Coney Island got its start in 1926 when Economou’s father, Greek immigrant Christ Economou, brought his unique version of the coney dog to Tulsa.  As defined by him, the classic coney is a small hot dog served on a flour bun with chili, onions, cheese and mustard.  The Coney Island’s chili is made without beans or tomatoes, a recipe he developed.

Jim Economou took over in 1973, and the restaurant moved to its current location in 1995.

In celebration of Coney Island’s birthday Mayor Dewey Bartlett stopped by to read a proclamation. 

Kids had a great time in all the hubbub.  The line of customers was doubled around to keep customers inside and out of the freezing snowy day.  News photographers snapped images and rolled tape.  Jim Economou beamed.

Daily operations of the restaurant are lead by Economou’s sister and brother-in-law, Georgia and Costa Tsilekas.  They are proud to continue the tradition.  It’s a family thing.

Coney Island may move again.  A new owner has purchased the old motel building, but the restaurant lease runs through November.  Regardless of any move, the family pledges it will remain downtown. 

Love for Tulsa and downtown is a part of the Coney Island culture.  Visitors can see it both in the historic photos on the walls and the respect given each customer regardless.

"I’ve always felt this should be a part of Tulsa," Economou said. "We have an emotional tie to this city."  

Coney Island has a Facebook page you can reach by clicking here.

Additional Photos follow:

Happy Birthday Coney Island