I live in south-western Michigan, specifically in the Portage/Kalamazoo areas, but I am originally from the east side of the state, moving here from Ann Arbor and growing up in Sterling Heights. A common restaurant, one that is easy to take for granted, is Coney Island.
For those of you who are not from Michigan, when I talk about Coney Island, I am not talking about the amusement park in New York. Instead, I am talking about a restaurant that serves hot dogs with chili and cheese on them, as well as chili-cheese fries. Almost universally, these places are owned by people of Greek heritage and will also server Gyros (pronounced "year-ohs.") And, while there are chains of these places, like "National Coney Island", there are a number of them that are independently owned and named things like "Phoenix Coney Island," "Koney's," or "Kirby's Coney Island."
For whatever reason, the "Coney Island" concept just hasn't caught on in Kalamazoo like it has on the east side. So, I was thrilled when I saw a place called "Coney'Z" off of Romence. I was able to convince the guys that we needed to try it for lunch, promising gyros would be available.
"Coney'Z" is a very small restaurant, with a very limited amount of space. There were about ten closely packed tables/booths, and the store itself was sharing space with the cafe next door. The food selection was pretty limited, too. There were no gyros, but there were "sliders", described as being like the White Castle ones. And, of course, there were hot dogs.
I was happy with my Coney dog with cheese and chili cheese fries, and it seemed most of the group was happy with at least portions of their meals. It seems like a place we will visit again. I am happy for this little place, but it really isn't like the Coney Islands from back home.
I also tried some chili-cheese fries at Nisker's recently, but wasn't really impressed; their regular fries are decent enough, but the chili and cheese they add really doesn't do it for me. So, I'll keep looking for my stand-in Coney dog and chili-cheese fries place.