Monday, July 7, 2014


Congratulations to Joey “Jaws” Chestnut who proposed marriage to his girlfriend and then won his 8th Mustard Belt title by eating 61 hotdogs in 10 minutes at the Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Championship. 

Nathan’s is a landmark on the southwest corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues, a block from the beach, and right across the street from the Coney Island subway terminal [You can get to Coney Island on the B, D, F, Q, or R train]. The terminal is a little Coney Island museum -- the hallway is lined with giant photographs and artifacts of the history of the various amusement parks of Coney Island.  The train station was rebuilt in 2004-2005 and is probably the cleanest and nicest subway station in Brooklyn.

Nathan’s used to be just down the block from the carnival rides at Coney Island – the bumper cars, Tilt-a-Whirl – a whole feast of fun.  But New York realtors tore all that down to build condos on the beach.  Before they could get a permit for building, the local populace fought the development and stalled it.  So what used to be a fun-land is now an empty lot.

But Nathan’s is rarely empty.  In the summer the fold-back doors are opened to lines of people that stretch around the block.  They serve more than a variety of hot dogs – they serve a variety of smothered French fries as well as fried clams, chicken tenders, Philly cheesesteaks.  That sort of thing.

Nathan’s started out as a mom and pop hotdog cart in 1916 owned and operated by Nathan and Ida Handwerker.  Nathan worked as for restaurateur Charles Feltman [buried in Green-Wood Cemetery btw] who is credited with inventing the hot dog. When Nathan had fully  learned how to make hot dogs, he and Ida created their own recipe and went into business. They cut the price to a nickel.
 Feltman had charged a dime.

Nathan's was kept in the family for decades, but finally they sold out to a corporation, and sadly they’ve franchised, which tells you the food isn’t that good.

In the winter, the folding doors are kept closed and there are a handful of tables and chairs and few people. About mid-morning, you can usually find a few members of the Polar Bear Club drinking coffee before and after taking a dip in the frosty Atlantic Ocean.  

Post by Alana Cash

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