American Coney Island is normally associated with Detroit, not Las Vegas. The original American Coney Island is an iconic Detroit institution that’s been run by the same family for three generations over 95 years. When I got wind they were opening a Las Vegas location, I gave owner Grace Keros a call. She said to head on into their Fremont Street location at the all new D Casino and Hotel (formerly Fitzgerald’s) and her guy Joe would take care of me.
American Coney Island in the D Casino
The D is a Detroit Themed casino that wanted a little old school hot dog presence; American Coney Island fit the bill. Unlike the Detroit location, this American Coney Island does NOT have rival Lafayette Coney Island right next door!
There was a Detroit-like chill in the air when I visited. Normally in January, you can expect temperatures in Las Vegas to be in the 50 to 60 degree range; today it was only 25 degrees! Not even the dome over Downtown Las Vegas could warm things up, but the cold weather didn’t deter a few hardy souls from taking the new zip line ride.
American Coney Island was founded in 1917 by Constantine “Gust” Keros, who immigrated to Detroit from Greece in 1903. The whole Coney Island sauce phenomena has its origins with Greek immigrants. Most (if not all) Coney Island hot dog joints throughout the USA were founded by Greeks in the early 20th century. Coney Island hot dog sauce has been adopted by Detroit and Michigan natives as the region’s signature hot dog style and folks are very loyal to “their” various hot dog stands featuring the spicy, bean-less chili style sauce.
American Coney Island has been established in downtown Detroit since its inception. They serve up a grilled, pork and beef, natural casing, Dearborn frank on a steamed roll. While a variety of condiments are available, the standard is Coney sauce, onions, and mustard. They have the red stuff on hand, but don’t condone its use! Third generation co-owners Grace Keros and her brother, Chris, run the Detroit location 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! The Detroit shop has been featured on many national TV shows and in every Detroit media outlet at one time or another.
Detroit has seen its fair share of hard times in recent years, but the Keros family is loyal to the city and bought the building American Coney Island is in back in 1989. Had they not made the purchase, the building would likely be vacant now, without American Coney Island or Lafayette Coney Island as tenants!
Like west coast hot dog icon, Pink’s, the Keros family decided to expand their hot dog empire with additional locations. They have a second location in Michigan and the family decided Las Vegas, with its many visitors and Michigan transplants, would be an ideal spot for a new store. When I visited, more than half the people in the place were from Michigan!
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