Last weekend Coney Island finally welcomed back the original New York hotdog. No, we’re not talking about Nathan’s– there’s a new famous dog in town: Feltman’s of Coney Island. The Feltman line goes back even further than Nathan’s, if you can believe it.
Originally from Germany, Charles Feltman came to the U.S. at age 15; by 1869, at age 26, he was slipping “red hots” into a bun and so beachgoers could carry them easily and selling what would become one of the most globally recognized food items of all time. Feltman’s story tracks like the typical tale of the American dream. Four years after his humble beginnings with a single pie cart, he earned enough to be able to buy an entire city block and build an empire. His Ocean Pavilion included, among other things, a hotel, a roller coaster, and nine restaurants, and claimed to be the biggest eatery in the world. It was a Feltman’s employee, Nathan Handwerker, who went on to found Nathan’s Famous in 1916.
Today, some six decades after Feltman’s closed, brothers Joe and Michael Quinn have taken up the mantel. Last August Michael opened Feltman’s Kitchen inside of Theater 80’s William Barnacle Tavern in the East Village, and this past Saturday the two brothers opened two new spots together in Coney Island, a small kiosk and a sit-down restaurant.“It was pretty busy,” says Michael Quinn of Luna Park’s opening weekend. The most popular item on their menu was the Feltman’s Original with onions, sauerkraut and mustard. No ketchup allowed. A close second was the “Al Capone” made with vodka sauce and shredded Parmesan cheese.
Born and raised on the Island, Michael is a Coney historian and started Coney Island Tours over a decade ago. Thanks to his extensive knowledge of the history of the place, Michael was able to dig up facts and even a recipe for this important part of American culinary history. He wouldn’t give B+B any information about how he found this closely guarded secret or what was in it but the dog has quickly gotten notice from connoisseurs. Even competitive hot-dog eating legend Takeru Kobayashi was amazed by the Feltman’s dog.
“It tastes like steak,” Kobayashi said of the dog, according to Michael.
If you don’t live in New York, don’t worry, Feltman’s of Coney Island will ship their famous dogs to your house. For those of you who do live in NYC the grand opening of the Feltman’s of Coney Island will take place over Memorial Day weekend, but it is technically open now. And if a trip to Coney isn’t in the cards, there’s always the East Village location at 80 St. Marks.Feltman’s of Coney Island restaurant located at 1000 Surf Avenue; kiosk located in Luna Park.
Correction: An earlier version of this post was imprecise about the location of the Feltman’s kiosk.