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Patch Coney Tour Offers Tasty Bites of History

Authors Joe Grimm and Katherine Yung guided a bus tour Saturday across Metro Detroit, visiting Coney Island restaurants in conjunction with their new book 'Coney Detroit.'

A steady diet of hot dogs and history was served up Saturday afternoon as a group of about a dozen people embarked on the first 

Tour participants had a chance to travel across Metropolitan Detroit tasting coney dogs and learning how the region has become the world’s coney capital.

Led by Joe Grimm and Katherine Yung, authors of the book Coney Detroit, the tour bus left from downtown Detroit and along the way stopped at in Dearborn, in Royal Oak and Western Coney Island in Eastpointe. At each spot, members of the tour received samples of coney dogs and had a chance to hear from each of the establishment’s owners about the history of their businesses.

Appropriately, the four-hour tour ended at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Lafayette Boulevard in Detroit, home to two of the city’s most famous diners, American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island, which are located next to each other.

The authors also were joined by Jeanette Pierce of the D:hive, who helped lead the group and provided additional information about the history of Detroit. The D:hive was a co-sponsor of the tour and also offers other tours of its own as part of its mission to attract and help retain young professionals in the Detroit area.

As the bus traversed Metro Detroit on Saturday, Grimm and Yung talked about the history of Coney Island restaurants in the region. The pair outlined how Greek immigrants first established the eateries in Detroit in the early 1900s and discussed how that has since grown to an estimated 500 coney restaurants in business today in the area.

As the afternoon wrapped up, and the last coneys were devoured at Lafayette, tour members were all smiles, with many raving about the experience.

“It was awesome, I thought it would be fun, but it was even more fun than I thought,” said Kristin MacMahon of Sterling Heights. “I thought from a historical perspective it was really interesting (and) I think getting to meet the authors and having them hang out with us is really cool.”

A copy of Coney Detroit can be purchased online from the Wayne State University Press. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go toward Gleaners Community Food Bank.

Check in with Patch this spring and summer as we continue to celebrate our region's signature dishes with events, contests, stories and cool things to do.

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