It seems as if Project 180 is going to be an overriding topic at OKC Central this week. But instead of delving deeper into the funding and project scope problems I reported today, let’s first give some love to one of the latest restaurants suffering through road construction.
I’m going to be blunt: after reporting on the potential loss of landmarks like Crescent Market, Nichols Hills Drugstore and Johnny’s Lunch Box (not the mention the long slumber of closed down eateries Sleepy Hollow and County Line BBQ), I’m not ready or willing to do another such story.
Which brings me to Coney Island Hot Dogs … which has been around a while.
Visit Urban Spoon and you’ll discover Coney Island Hot Dogs has a 92 percent approval rating. This isn’t Red Prime Steakhouse. It’s chili cheese dogs, chili on spaghetti and Frito pie territory. And the food is good. The atmosphere is old, old school with hand written college football records kept for decades all over the walls. The building is old – built back before statehood, and the restaurant dates back to the 1920s and moved to this building at 424 W Main about a half century ago when its original home fell to the Urban Renewal wrecking ball.
Coney Island has been a survivor. It’s a community gathering spot, where every Saturday old-timers get together and play chess.
Today I got a call from Bill Mihas. It’s a call I’ve received from several restaurants caught up in the steamroller known as Project 180. Streets are torn up. Despite the best of intentions, contractors don’t complete their work on time due to complications, surprise basement discoveries, or even, I suspect, the occasional under-staffing or bidding for more work than they know they can really handle. Mihas’ business is down – way down. He’s not saying he’s in danger of closing, but you can sense the panic in his voice.
Yeah, I’ll write another story about how Project 180 is going to be great when done, but how it’s also hurting more businesses caught in its path. I’m once again checking to see whether contractors are finishing Main Street on time, and if they’re not, is there a good reason or are they screwing around (yes, that does happen from time to time on street projects and there is one contractor that is rather notorious for low-balling bids and spreading itself too thin on jobs).
In the meantime, though, it’s time to go a step further. I’m not going to sit by and risk watching Coney Island die. So I went to work:
Will this little lunch gathering make or break a restaurant? Probably not. But it won’t hurt. And the hot dogs are damn good. Feel free to join me. Access won’t be easy. My suggestion is to park along Main Street west of Walker Avenue, in the Sheridan-Walker garage, or in parking spots around City Hall. Join us. We’ll be helping out a great historic restaurant, enjoying good food, and I’ll do my best to make the conversation interesting!