National Coney Island was founded by James Giftos in 1965 when he
opened his very first store at the Macomb Mall in Roseville, Michigan. It was a small and
simple store, which served a limited menu of coney island hot dogs, coney island style loose
hamburgers, a few sandwiches, potato chips and soda pop. There was seating for about 40
patrons, and the bill of fare was displayed on hand-painted wooden menu boards that
advertised 35 cent hot dogs.
At that point in time, regional malls such as the Macomb Mall were destination centers that drew
shoppers from miles and miles around – and National Coney Island began establishing itself on the
principles that have been the driving force behind its success to this very day – fast and friendly
service, and food freshness and quality.
The success of that first store allowed Mr. Giftos the opportunity to open two additional stores
in St. Clair Shores (1969) and Detroit (1971). These stores were very similar to the Macomb Mall
store in design and operation. Several years later, Mr. Giftos had the idea to expand the menu,
make his restaurants more family oriented, and considerably upgrade the design and décor package to
set National Coney Island apart from the many other coney island style restaurants in the Detroit area.
In doing so, he made a more bright, enjoyable, and family-fun atmosphere for his patrons.
In following this new direction, the real expansion in National Coney Island’s history took root in
the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s when National more than tripled in size to eleven units – all very unique
in décor, some offering beer and wine service, others with drive-thru windows, but all built by a very
loyal and hard-working staff, and all using those original tenets of fast & friendly service, and the
highest quality food offerings.
As National Coney Island looks towards the future, one of our top goals is to
maintain the high standards that have made us successful, while constantly improving our operations
throughout our future growth.