Now this place you’ve got to see. Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island sold its first hotdog in September of 1914, and in the nearly 100 years since then, generations of Fort Wayne residents have come to consider it not just a restaurant, but a tradition. But it's status as a cultural landmark isn’t its only charm. It's atmosphere, for example, there are few establishments that can match it.
When you walk in the first thing you’ll notice is the scent of grilled perfection that lingers in the air. It’s something unforgettable, just ask anyone. Next you’ll notice the vintage tables and chairs that, like Coney Island itself, appear well-worn but as sturdy as ever. The lunch counter you see is third generation the stools are entirely original. While you’re there texting a friend before exploring the rest of the city, you can imagine a WWI Doughboy sitting right where you are talking with a friend before shipping off to the front. Speaking of WWI Doughboys, ask third generation proprietor Kathleen Choka to show you the picture of a young soldier named Phil Gust. And check out the pictures on the walls also. Like a scrapbook, they document the life of the establishment. So it has a colorful history. That much is clear. But what’s the food like, you ask?
If you’re a hotdog lover or even just hotdog “liker,” this is the place to visit while you’re in town. The best dogs in town are grilled right there in front of you and are served with your choice of hand-chopped onions, cheese, baked beans, or their signature chili on a steamed bun. For sides, there’s a variety of chips, and for dessert, there’s pie that’s hand-made locally. If you want something to drink there are both Coke and Pepsi products, some of which come in actual glass bottles. You remember those, right?
Believe it or not, they even have fantastic hamburgers and cheeseburgers. Those who have had them might call them one of the city’s best kept secrets. And fear not, vegetarians, the always friendly and helpful staff will make you a fully loaded baked bean dog that you would swear is the real thing. If that’s not enough, you even can have a delicious grilled cheese if you ask for it.
A long and storied history, a “place where everybody know your name” atmosphere, excellent service, and, most importantly, amazing food. What’s not to love?
Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island
Address: 131 West Main Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Monday 7:00 am – 9:30 pm
Tuesday 7:00 am – 9:30 pm
Wednesday 7:00 am – 9:30 pm
Thursday 7:00 am – 9:30 pm
Friday 7:00 am – 10:30 pm
Saturday 7:00 am – 10:30 pm
Sunday 9:00 am – 8:30 pm
Shane Grant is a life-long Fort Wayne resident. In the past, he has worked for the Parks and Recreation Department where he wrote the histories of the Legacy Parks such as Lawton and several others. He has also worked in the collection’s department of the History Center and for Arch Inc. When time permits, he enjoys writing, researching, and going to the movies.