Friday, May 14, 2010

Leo's Coney Island

Regional Fast Food
-a popular place from Michigan for Coney Dogs

We recently had a Leo's Coney Island open up in Chicago. Its a popular sit down/carry out place from the Detroit area. Since we have so many Michigan transplants here in Chicago, a few of them decided to open up this popular food stop from Michigan. I thought now was the time to start the regional fast food series. The opening of this franchise of Leo's was pretty hyped around the city since its the first location outside Michigan and so many people from Michigan now live in Chicago. It was also much talked about because some people wondered how you could open a regional hot dog place in a city that has its own style. However there arent many Coney dog places in Chicago and they have an extensive menu that includes breakfast, soup, salads and many sandwich selections along with their famous Coney dogs.

Birthplace: Southfield, MI
Type: Franchise
Founded in: 1972
How Many Today: 42
Locations in: MI (and one in Chicago)
Menu item that made them: Coney Dogs
My personal take: I actually liked it more than I thought I would.

The companies history according to its website

"In 1968, Leo Stassinopoulos, at the age of 17 immigrated to America from a little known village in Greece. Leo came over with very little and did not speak any English. Leo did have a strong determination to achieve a better life in America as many Greeks had in the past. He hoped and wished to obtain a piece of the American Dream he had heard so much about. At first, Leo took up a job in a meat factory and began to save up money to pursue his own goals. Later, he began to work in a local Coney Island establishment where he was able to learn the restaurant industry from the ground up. The next step was to team up with his older brother Peter and open a restaurant of his own."

My Take

According to the people in the know and from Detroit there were mainly two things that they missed so much from Leo's. The obvious being the Coney dogs and the not so obvious is the Greek salad. They have a combo deal on the menu that can get you both a Coney dog with fries and a salad and I believe a drink for a decent price on all of it. I went with that and got cheese on my Coney dog. I was pleasantly surprised with my Greek salad. I'm not a big salad guy as those who read this site would know, but this is one I'll have again. The dressing which is also available by the bottle for take home was awesome and might be the key part. The greens were fresh though and I was won over with the salad alone before I had the hot dog. I'll even buy a bottle of the dressing next time I stop on in.

Leo's Coney Island Greek Salad

Now for those of you not in the know of what a Coney dog is allow me to to simply explain. Despite the name, they have no association with New York or Coney Island. These hot dogs are the most well known regional eat of Detroit and many Coney Island shops are found throughout the Midwest. Although many have also come and gone. Exactly who invented them is unclear. A Coney dog starts off what is usually a natural casing hot dog. Koegel's is a well known brand around Michigan and Leo's is their number one client. The dog is then topped with a usually dry all meat chili mixture with everyone using their own different seasonings to go with the beef and chili powder. Its then topped with mustard and diced onions and can also be ordered with cheese. I am a big fan of Coney's and will usually stop when I spot an old school coney shop. Most of these Coney spots around the country have been around for sometime. Even though Leo's is a chain and this location hasn't even been open a year, I really liked my Coney. The bun held up very well and the dog toppings complimented the super snappy and flavorful hot dog very well. When I get the craving for a Coney in Chicago, I will go to Leo's.

Leo's Coney Dog with Cheese

Leo's Coney Island of Chicago
3455 North Southport Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 281-5367


Eddie Lakin said...

can't believe you still haven't hit me up at Edzo's, King. get here soon. we need your knowledge!

KingT said...

Eddie, your right, I need to get back asap now that its sunny out, on my first visit it was packed and snowing so I decided I had to wait to get some great pics...your reminder will have me there soon. i've been fiending since my first trip.

avocado said...

I thought Leo's was mediocre at best; corporate, sterile. Detroit nostalgia be dammed.


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