An idea established on April 10th, 1921
A good idea lasts, lasts and outlasts... On April 10th, 1921 Gus Saites, a Greek immigrant, had a few hundred dollars and an idea. He would head to Duluth from St. Paul and open a restaurant on East Superior Street in the bustling town of Duluth Minnesota. Over 90 years later this idea continues uninterrupted in the same location and under the same tin ceiling as on that spring day in '21. For almost 40 years Saites served up personal service, great food and refreshing soft drinks. Superior Street was the center of all Duluth had to offer and Gus' idea to "Go it on his own" would flourish and even allow for expansion to other locations throughout the upper mid-west. In the late 50's the business was passed on to Gus' nephew Tony. Tony Pagonis was a fixture on Superior Street for the next 30 years, offering up a distinctive personal service that long time patrons continue to recall today. Notable customers of Tony's included Liberace and a campaigning John F. Kennedy. In the 1970's Tony would serve up over 600 coneys a day, seven days a week! Tony's brother Gus would join him during this time and together they would operate the restaurant into the late 1980's.
The Original Coney Island at 107 East Superior is filled with memories of first dates, father son outings, after school gatherings and many a late night cravings. For decades the former Granada Theater next door made for the perfect combination of dinner, a movie and then back to "Coney" for desert. The Original Coney Island would see a couple more ownership changes before brothers Steve and Rand Sola took on Gus' "1921 idea" in 2008. Encouraged to "NOT CHANGE A THING!" by the long term clientele, their plan is to see the tradition continue for future generations. In 2010 the building, built in 1907, underwent a comprehensive restoration including replacing the four storefronts, replacing the long since removed parapets along the roof line, thorough brick restoration, new windows, and a new roof. Inside the building saw all new mechanical systems installed, bathrooms replaced, an elevator added and the other three retail spaces were entirely rebuilt including the Duluth Coffee Company and Fannie Rose Candy Shop named after an early proprietor of the building's second floor rooms of questionable repute. Through all of this the inside of "Coney" has stayed the same! So stop in for a couple coneys, a made to order breakfast or maybe an old fashion malted milk, we think you'll agree that Gus had a good idea...
Information gathered through patron comments, Polk City Directories/Duluth, MN 1922 through 1960 and a 3/26/1972 Duluth News Tribune article "Tony's Got a Secret"