Coney Express family business owners return to their legacy after 15 years

NOW: Coney Express family business owners return to their legacy after 15 years

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- A family, fast-food comeback!

If you’ve ever been to Coney Express in Mishawaka, you can probably tell it has a pretty rich history.

It’s been a local hot spot for hot dog lovers for decade.

Now, it's back in the hands of its legacy owners and they're still welcoming diners from generations ago.

When you step foot inside a Coney Express, you’re taking a trip back in time straight to the 1980’s.

The family-owned business first opened up the shop in 1972.

The restaurant was originally located in Detroit and moved to Mishawaka in 1984 becoming a fast food staple.

At the time, the father-in-law of the current owner, Timothy Zentz ran it until about 15 years ago when a family friend took over.

Right before the pandemic hit, Zentz got the chance to buy it back.

He says the decision was a no-brainer.

“They asked us if we wanted to buy it back. And when I spoke to my father-in-law about it and I could see the twinkle in his eyes, he started to wear his old Coney Express shirt and I knew this was exactly what we had to do, we had to get this back in the family,” Zentz said.

Zentz tells me they hope the restaurant continues to run in the family as his own children run around the shop as his wife did years ago when she was a child.

Even during a time when many businesses are struggling to hire amid a nationwide worker shortage, they’re keeping up the customer experience that they’re famous for.

Zentz tells me customers know they will be in and out those doors within minutes.

As its name suggests, Coney Express is known for its Detroit style coney hot dogs.

It still has the vintage diner vibe customers have known and loved for decades.

The owner tells me they strive to provide a fast experience and even during a pandemic.

They were fortunate enough to still provide the same quality of service with just a limited number of staff.

Family members even pitching in to make it all possible.

Matt Harman who just started working there about a month ago tells me he used to work in a corporate setting adding nothing beats the experience of working for a small business.

Both Zentz and Harman say they hope the restaurant gives that feeling of family to everyone who walks through the doors.

“They’re a great family, they care about their customers and they care about people. You could tell just by the way they talk to you. My first day here, they brought me in and treated me as family and I knew I was going to love it immediately,” Harman said.

“Thank you to everyone, our regulars who came back and all the new people that come in. We always try to ask your name and eventually we'll remember it, refer you to your first name every time you come in. So, we really wanted that family feel. Everyone is welcomed in our place,” Zentz said.

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