For more than a half-century, Coney Island’s Nathan’s Famous has been peerless among Brooklyn’s seaside hot dog slingers — both as a local favorite and a global brand. But there was once an older, more established competitor to Nathan’s, credited with creating the original hot dog. And two brothers are seeking to revive the brand.
Coney Island historian and blogger Michael Quinn announced he and his brother Joseph have launched a crowd-funding campaign to sell Feltman’s hot dogs at restaurants throughout the city. Feltman’s is widely credited as the original hot dog. It’s creator, German immigrant Charles Feltman started selling his creations in a pushcart in Coney Island in 1867. Four years later, he opened a restaurant, Feltman’s German Gardens, that sold hot dogs in Coney Island until the business closed in 1954. Nathan Handwerker, who went on to establish Nathan’s, got his start working at Feltman’s.
As we reported last year, the Quinn brothers brought back the first Feltman’s hot dogs at a pop up shop in the Ditmas Park bar Sycamore. They’ve since established more pop up shops at Kings County Distillery, Augurs Well in the East Village and the Parkside Lounge on Houston Street, according to Quinn’s blog.
Now he and his brother have launched an online crowd-funding campaign to grow their fledgling franchise and bring it to restaurants throughout New York City. They’ve also partnered with sausage-industry veteran Josef Brunner, who backed the late Bark Dogs in Park Slope, to help recreate the Feltman’s dog, Grub Street reports.
Quinn said on his blog that he has a strong ties to the Feltman’s brand: “My grandfather would park in front of 1000 Surf ave. and walk out of Feltman’s with a beer tray full of hot dogs. The hot dogs my grandfather consumed were true Frankfurter sausages not loaded with nitrates and fillers and with spices just like the one’s we’re selling today.”
The crowd-funding effort has so far only raised $215 of its $50,000 goal. Quinn told Bowery Boogie the money is needed to cover overhead costs, shipping, and labeling. He also hopes to some day set up a real restaurant in Coney Island to sell his hot dogs, and return Feltman’s to the seashore.
Quinn still has a long road to travel before he brings Feltman’s back to its roots. But if he does bring his upstart franchise back to Coney Island, he plans to sell his hot dogs at half the price of Nathan’s, according to Brooklyn Magazine. That would be a reversal of the historic hot dog rivalry between the two franchises. (Nathan’s famous did the same thing to Feltman’s in 1915, Brooklyn Magazine reports.)
Smells like payback.