The Original Coney Island - Capitol Hill district, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member vulture1957
N 35° 26.357 W 097° 31.078
14S E 634515 N 3922768
The second Original Coney Island, ran by Greek immigrants. Opened in the 1970s and still serving great lunches in the new millennium. 240 SW 25th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73109
Waymark Code: WMY6FP
Location: Oklahoma, United States
Date Posted: 04/30/2018
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 5


Lunchtime at the Coney Island restaurant in south Oklahoma City attracts a moving line of customers along the serving counter. They represent an appealing slice of life in Capitol Hill — ethnic backgrounds, working classes, age ranges. They all come so that people from Greece can serve them a distinctly American menu.

Hot dogs are the great democratic equalizer.

Bill and Mary Mihas arrived in Oklahoma from Greece — through Canada — in 1964. They purchased a Coney Island diner downtown near Main and Harvey, which was founded in 1924 by another Greek immigrant. When they decided to expand, they sent for Mary Mihas' brother, Dimitrios Smirlis to open the second Coney Island, in the Capitol Hill area in the 1970s, on the north side of Commerce Street, now on the southeast corner of Commerce and Harvey.

When Mary Mihas' children were grown, she went to work for her brother, while Bill Mihas continues to manage the downtown store.

The hot dogs and Greek spaghetti painted on the diner's windows are a reminder that the legacy of coneys and condiments goes back to 1924.

Inside, the décor is basic and clean, with a slim serving counter that features an antique cash register. Utilitarian metal tables are arranged close together, and one wall is covered with handwritten posters listing the University of Oklahoma football records back to the 1971 season. Mihas said "both bosses,” her husband and her brother, are fans.

The diner has never advertised, but "regulars” eat at the Coney Island several times a week. The patrons include people from offices and stores in business clothing, people from manual labor sites with grease on their clothes, families with small children accompanying older generations. Mary Mihas greets them all, asks about their families, hears about their activities, knows what they will order. It's all just good manners, she said.

She speaks in an accent she brought from Greece and her hands move in time with her words.

"I'm always like this with everybody,” she said.

Over the years, the hot dog shop built its reputation on hot dogs, and only three other featured dishes have been added to the menu in that time.

Mary Mihas explained the reality of Greek spaghetti.

"In Greece we have a meat sauce like chili,” she said.

It has milder spices than Italian or Mexican sauces, and less tomato flavoring. A mild, yellow, Greek cheese, called myzithra, and chopped onions are sprinkled over it. The "chili” is served by the bowl, and in Frito pie-style. A can of cayenne pepper sits on the counter; customers carry it to their tables to sprinkle out their own spiciness.

Bags of chips and candy bars also are available. The only concession to customary Greek cuisine is baklava, a sweet pastry. The Coney Island serves bottled beer and soft drinks.

Every day, as many as 300 bright red wieners bubble in a vat behind the counter. Every morning, Mary Mikas chops 10 large, yellow onions. She uses a food processor, but it's skilled labor, she said; onions must be crisp, not mushy.

Smirlis, on a challenge, once stacked eight buns down his arm and assembled eight coneys. That can be a useful talent on occasion, because every lunch hour brings in working men who eat four or six coneys in one sitting. Mihas expects "young, strong construction workers” to need a big meal.

And "people leave happy,” she said.

The Capitol Hill area went through a down period in the 1980s, she said, but it's getting better. Mihas said she believes Coney Island stayed afloat because its customers came from many distances and directions. And, "we've always kept our prices down.” They make a good living from the business and that's enough, she said; in hard times, she's given away a hot dog or two.

In 1967, the menu offered a coney dog for 25 cents, with cheese added for 35 cents. Forty years later, the coney dog costs $1.25, with cheese $1.35

Seasonal?: Year-Round

Website: [Web Link]

Seating Available: yes

Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor

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The Snowdog visited The Original Coney Island - Capitol Hill district, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA 07/07/2020 The Snowdog visited it