Feltman’s Hot Dogs Crowdfunds for Return to Coney Island, Local Domination

Posted on: March 2nd, 2016 at 5:12 am by
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Feltman’s Hot Dogs is gearing up for summertime in a big way. All the chips are now on the table. The historic weiner brand – revived last spring by Coney Island historian and blogger Michael Quinn (plus brother Joseph) – wants to be served in your favorite restaurant and, eventually, boast one of its own.

“We’re looking to expand in a major way by Memorial Day weekend,” Quinn tells us. “Very soon we’ll be supplying hot dogs with the Feltman’s label to restaurants throughout the city.”

The big news here is that sausage master Josef Brunner, whose hot dog pursuits at Bark Dogs in Park Slope recently concluded, is now on board with Feltman’s.

“He’s going to be making the hot dogs according to our recipe, the Feltman’s recipe. Restaurants that want to serve Feltman’s hot dogs; the original hot dog, should contact us now.”

To realize the dream, Quinn kickstarted a crowdfunding campaign over the weekend to collect $50,000. Funds amassed will help defray the overhead costs of production, shipping, and labeling. And, eventually, the estbalishment of a brick-and-mortar homecoming in Coney Island.

Meanwhile, Feltman’s remains strong on the pop-up circuit. The company still hosts trivia nights on the first three Wednesdays every month at Parkside Lounge on East Houston. It’s apparently a hit. “I usually sell two cases of hot dogs before trivia ends,” Quinn says. “The same devoted people come back every week to play trivia and devour Feltman’s Hot Dogs.”

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Founder Charles Feltman is credited with inventing the hot dog as we know it back in 1867. Business boomed that first summer, having reportedly sold 3,684 “Coney Island Red Hots” right out of a cart. Some history from the Coney Island Blog (which Quinn also runs):

The Feltman’s name is preparing a return to Coney Island. German immigrant Charles Feltman has been considered by many the inventor the American hot dog. Sometime around 1867, an Irishman named Donovan built Feltman his first hotdog cart at his shop on Howard ave. in East New York. Feltman boiled these German sausages that he called “Coney Island Red Hots” and put them in between the pastry buns that he made at his Park Slope bakery. That first summer Feltman sold 3,684 of these “Red Hots” from his cart up and down where modern day Surf ave. is now located (modern day Surf ave. is where the shoreline was located at the time, hence the name). The hot dog was born. The rest is history.

Colloquial lore blames Nathan’s for the failure. Apparently Feltman’s employee Nathan Handwerker left the company in 1916 to start Nathan’s, which undercut the whole business. But Quinn disputes the myth; he previously told Gothamist: “These two businesses coexisted for nearly 40 years. People like the whole ‘Nathan’s put Feltman’s out of business’ thing. No! Nathan opened his stand in 1916, Feltman’s lasted until 1954. Feltman’s was a completely different type of place! There was a park there, they showed outdoor movies, and they had the carousel. It was more of an upscale clientele at Nathan’s.”

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