Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island (Ft. Wayne, Indiana)

The Famous Hot Dog neon sign
Photograph in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, United States Library of Congress

Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island, commonly known as Coney Island celebrated its 100th year in the same location in 2014.  Opened by three Greek immigrants in 1914 and purchased by Macedonians immigrants in 1916, this restaurant could not be more American if they tried.  With constant lines of people, Coney Island is the oldest operating restaurant in Ft. Wayne, and blends a family tradition of simple food with a history unequaled in newer restaurants.  The same family in fact has owned and operated the restaurant since 1916.

More than 100 years of service has given this restaurant plenty of anecdotes about customers and plenty of opportunities to serve the rich and famous.  Ft. Wayne’ Famous Coney Island is one of those places that people will go a few hours out of the way to visit whenever they are withing striking distance, and it is one of the places you are likely to find a gubernatorial candidate striking a pose with a hotdog while wearing a 2,000 dollar suit.  Mickey Mantle famously stopped by and left an $18 tip (quite a lot at the time) for three glasses of water.

Fort Wayne’s downtown has changed considerably through the years and since the humble hotdog stand opened a string of other nearby restaurants have shuttered their doors.  Coney Island has withstood economic downturns and a changing city while providing the same products (for the most part) without ever nearing the brink of closure. During the now famous blizzard of 1978, Coney Island kept their doors open, and did their part to keep the snow removal workmen well-fed.

To step into Coney Island is to step back in time.  With an old neon sign proclaiming “Our buns are steamed” and photos of the staff from the 30’s hanging on the walls, it’s well worth the stop next time you happen to be in Fort Wayne, Indiana, (or anywhere within driving distance).  Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island is open from 8 to 10 Monday-Thursday, 8 to 11 Friday and Saturday, and 9 to 8 on Sundays, and probably will  be for the next hundred years.

“Coney Island” Facts

  • Coney Island sells between 1,500 and 2,000 hotdogs each day.
  • The famous chili sauce served is still made according to the original recipe devised in 1913 by the first owners.
  • Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Stand is located at 131 W Main St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802
  • The first instance of a “Coney Island” style hotdog being served was at the Fort Wayne wiener stand location in 1914.
  • There are multiple variations to the ‘Coney Island Dog” but they all seem to have Greek or Macedonian immigrants of the 1900 have to thank for their creation.