DETROIT, MI – Esquire magazine released its list of 100 Restaurants America Can't Afford to Lose and among them, the Greek-owned American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island, next door neighbors in downtown Detroit.
“The story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match,” Esquire reported, adding that “the point is that both of them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow mustard, and raw onions.”
According to The American Coney Island website, the restaurant 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 97 years and was founded in 1917 by Constantine "Gust" Keros, who immigrated to Detroit from Greece in 1903.
Gust Keros brought his brother Vasili (Bill) over from Greece and he opened Lafayette Coney Island in 1924, right next door to his brother’s American Coney Island, Culture Trip reported, adding that “whether this was due to a dispute or just a business decision is still shrouded in mystery.”
Lafayette Coney Island was opened in 1924 by Vasili (Bill) Keros and was owned by the family until 1991 when it was sold by George Keros, Vasili’s son, to his employees. Photo: Lafayette Coney Island / Facebook
“What isn’t a mystery though is that with their close proximity to each other and customers to fight for, a rivalry quickly emerged; this was as much to do with the customers as anyone, as Detroiters pledged allegiance to one or the other but never both,” Culture Trip reported.
American Coney Island is still owned by the Keros family, including Gust Keros’ grandchildren Grace Keros and Chris Sotiropoulos.
George Keros, Vasili’s son, owned and operated Lafayette Coney Island from his father's death in 1970 until 1991 when he transferred ownership to his employees, The Detroit News reported.
Esquire’s full list of the 100 Restaurants America Can't Afford to Lose is available online: https://bit.ly/2JPWBVr.