For generations, residents of Detroit have enjoyed a family-owned local restaurant called the American Coney Island. This diner has been located in downtown Detroit since 1917. Those wishing to savor the food and authentic décor had to travel to its only site or miss out on the experience.
In nearby Huntington Woods, the Detroit Zoo found itself with hundreds of hungry guests visiting on a daily basis. Although the zoo had its own cafe and several other small kiosks, the popularity of American Coney Island's food made it the perfect addition to the zoo's cuisine options. Rather than just open up a standard building to serve the tasty menu options, the zoo and the restaurant worked together to go far above just the basics.
First, the two organizations set out to create an American Coney Island cafe that represented the history and atmosphere found in the original restaurant. Using the original logo along with blue canopies extending from the roof made this cafe instantly recognizable to its already loyal fans. Added to that basic design were the colors of red, white and blue along with American flags. This helped to re-create that classic, turn-of-the-century feeling found in the original site. Although the cafe at the zoo does not offer indoor seating, it does provide outdoor tables and chairs nestled underneath large, shade-providing, red umbrellas.
The cafe prides itself on quick, efficient and friendly service for all guests. It manages to provide all of this in a 1,250 square foot cafe-style eatery. The owners of the original site also teamed up with Service Systems Associates, an organization that operates concessions and retail services for the Detroit Zoological Society, to handle the daily operations of the new location. The cooperation between these two historical Detroit-area institutions has resulted in the perfect combination of two classic American activities: visiting one's local zoo and enjoying an American hot dog.
To satisfy the long-standing cravings of locals, the American Coney Island zoo cafe offers its traditional Coney Island chili hot dog and its famous chili cheese fries. While a hot dog may not seem to all that special, those who have tasted the American Coney Island hot dog know otherwise. With a secret family chili sauce recipe and Dearborn sausage, this hot dog is stuffed into a natural skin casing and then topped with mustard and chopped sweet onions. All of this delicious flavor is then served in a warmed bun for customers to enjoy.
Those who love Greek food will rave about the appetizing Greek salads that come with pita bread. A chicken Greek salad is also available. Gyro sandwiches, platters and salads can be ordered. Adding a side of chili or French fries (or both) rounds out the delectable main dishes. Customers can choose from several drink options to accompany their meal. Finally, since no meal is complete without something sweet, the cafe offers a variety of desserts including donuts, pies and cakes.
Finding this refreshing outpost in the zoo is quite easy to do. Visitors should head past the Rackham Fountain on the main concourse and turn right after the Jurassic Outpost located in the Asian section of the zoo. With restrooms, a drinking fountain, and a picnic site located close by, the American Coney Island cafe definitely a family-friendly location that should not be missed.