Danny Raskin – Let’s Go To Leo’s

Leo’s Coney Island chain is biggest in America

As time goes by and stories are told of winners and losers in the restaurant world, standout topics that never go out of style are the success stories of immigrants who arrive on our shores to become United States citizens and eventually find those golden sidewalks they heard and dreamed so much about.


Peter and Leo Stassinopoulos

Peter and Leo Stassinopoulos

It was rarely easy … Constan-tine “Gust” Keros shined shoes and sold hot dogs from a makeshift pushcart before opening American Coney Island … Brother Bill came here from Greece to learn and work hard for Gust … and after a couple of years was able to open next door as Lafayette Coney Island … Then the two opened a third nearby and called it Senate Coney Island.

American shores had become known as the land of opportunity … And while American and Lafayette go on about who has the better restaurant, another popular Coney dog place has joined the local party in a big way.

The rise of Leo’s Coney Island restaurants, owned by Leo and brother Peter Stassinopoulos, nephews of Gust and Bill, started here in 1972 with a small Southfield restaurant called Souvlaki Coney Island … 10 years later, another opened in Farmington … When a third opened in Troy, the change in name was made to Leo’s Coney Island, which today numbers a still-growing clean Coney operation … serving chunky hotties, regular or kosher, topped with meat sauce and onions, if desired, along with other goodies … Plus its excellent family recipe Greek dressing, passed down from generations that is found only in specialty markets and local grocery stores … for salads like its wonderful Greek combination of fresh vegetables.

No more do you find just a few items … Leo’s Coney Island menus now include five pages of selections … kosher dogs, New York hotties, Chicago Coneys, plain chili, loose chili, chili with beans, Greek specialties, fish and chips, chicken dinners, shrimp, beef, spaghetti, burgers galore, corned beef, turkey, children’s menu, suggestions, etc.

Leo and Peter began franchising in 2005, and Leo’s Coney Island is now the largest Coney Island hot dog chain in the world … with Leo Stassinopoulos wearing two hats … as co-owner and chief operating officer … for his and brother Peter’s excellent rise to Coney Island hot dog fame.

Among the things that have made Leo’s Coney Island so popularly well-liked is its faithful adherence to Michigan’s strict hot dog quality requirements under state law.

Another wonderful immigrant success story of American-dream-come-true that has become as big as the tributes to which its owners have deserved and received.

THE MUCH-HERALDED “City Fest” at the Whitney, Woodward and Canfield, Detroit, now going on by this fine time-honored Detroit legend, is owner Bud Liebler’s and son Pat’s endeavor they hope to be an annual event … It began Sept. 14 and continues through Sept. 23 … “We’re trying to do something new and different in Detroit as a way to celebrate all the new and different things happening in the city,” Bud says. “It’s all about celebrating the revived spirit of Detroit through culinary events” … Menus have been specially created … On Sept. 21, ladies take over the Whitney’s kitchen and dining rooms when some of the finest female chefs in Detroit join the Whitney’s executive Chef Natasha Vitti … “City Fest is a huge undertaking, but we think it’s a great way to introduce the Whitney’s new and regular dinners and all we have to offer,” Bud says … which is a lot!

MAIL DEPT.From Robert Abrams … “Why are you so against new restaurants opened by people who have never been in the restaurant business before?”

(Very far from it, Robert! Only many of those who open a restaurant for the first time try to run it themselves without any knowledge whatsoever of doing so … Countless new restaurant owners are most appreciative in accepting whatever good advice and other necessary assistance that their highly experienced employees, as example, can give them.)

THE TRUE ITALIAN dining selections from various parts of Italy featured each month at Bacco, Northwestern, Southfield, are going over big … Ten suggestions during the remainder of September are from the Puglia Region, or “the Italian boot” … noted for its wonderful dishes and fine wines, especially the red.

OLDIE BUT GOODIEFrom Jerry and Jeannette Olson … “Mildred lives in a home for the aged among many single men. At dinner, she stands up, makes a fist and raises her arm, and says, ‘If anybody can tell me vat’s in dis hand, they can have vild and kinky sex with me all night!’ Silence comes over the hall, and from the back someone yells out, “An elephant!” Mildred yells back, “Close enough!”

CONGRATS … To Morton Plotnick on his birthday … To Bruce Milen on his birthday … To Jim Newman on his 81st birthday … To Seymore Resnick on his birthday … To Arthur and Gina Horwitz on their 40th anniversary … To William and Georgann Wolf on their 55th anniversary.

Danny’s email address is dannyraskin2132@gmail.com.

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