A legendary Tulsa restaurant that's been in existence for nearly a century is expanding to Dallas-Fort Worth. Called Coney Island Hot Weiners, it's a beloved Tulsa landmark specializing in hot dogs and will open a location in Rockwall in January.
The restaurant is from Tony Osburn, a native of Tulsa who's excited to bring a favorite from his hometown to DFW. He'll open at 621 White Hills Dr., in a space on the east side of Lake Ray Hubbard that was most recently a massage parlor but has been home to a number of businesses.
At one point it was a bakery — "that's one of reasons we picked it, because it had all the electrical and infrastructure we needed," he says.
His restaurant is not the only Coney Island coming to DFW; Coney Island has been plotting to enter the area for at least a year. There's another location in Allen that'll open in the spring; it's from a different franchisee.
Dallas has seen restaurants open with a hot dog focus, and few have survived. But Coney Island is not just a hot dog joint, Osburn says.
"It's the longest surviving restaurant in Tulsa," he says. "Founder Christ Economou emigrated here from Greece in the 1920s and opened stores on the East Coast. Eventually he made his way to downtown Tulsa, where the restaurant has been since 1926. It's still in the Economou family."
The menu features hot dogs and chili, and there's something unique about the way Coney Island does what it does. "Anybody can make chili, but the process they use and the spices are what makes it taste so good," he says.
Although the restaurant name mentions hot dogs, chili is the signature dish. You can get it on a hot dog or in an unusual dish called "the 3-way."
"The 3-way is basically pasta with chili, cheese, and beans — you can get your chili with or without beans," Osburn says. "I don't think I've ever seen it around here."
The shop's longevity and careful customer service have contributed to its long lifespan. "If you go to the Tulsa store, you'll find that most of the employees there have been there 10 to 30 years," he says.
There are hot dogs topped with chili, cheese, and diced white onions; tamales; Frito pie; and a relatively new dish consisting of a baked potato topped with chili and cheese.
"It's a simple menu, but it's great food," he says. "A lot of people from Tulsa make it a point to visit when they go back home. It's a ritual — they have to eat there. And that's been going on for five generations of people who grew up with it."