After a hometown visit to Michigan, Richard Budziak set out to make his own Detroit-style Coney Dog — a hotdog named for New York’s Coney Island, but found in the “Coney Dog capital of the world” — Detroit.
“I looked up recipes, and started experimenting and finally made a really good coney sauce,” Richard Budziak said. “Then I set out to find a good hotdog to put it on top of and there was no hotdog to complement my coney sauce. So I had to make my own. I just had no choice.”
Amanda Budziak, married to Richard Budziak, requested the original Coney Dog that inspired Centerville’s Finest Coney Island Meats. The hotdog joint opened Jan. 8 in Yard Birds.
Budziak said he has been making 20-pound batches and selling nearly all the dogs it produces. His first batch made roughly 200 hotdogs and, with a large silver bowl in hand, he held up the few remaining hotdogs.
“This is all we’ve got left,” Budziak said. “We’re down to crumbs … These are all the little ones that I can’t even sell. I’ll make something good out here to show ya.”
Amanda Budziak does some of the behind-the-scenes work, such as creating the physical menus, paperwork and ordering materials.
“Everyone seems to be liking it as we get more people in here,” said Amanda Budziak, noting that the only advertising Centerville’s Finest Coney Island Meats has done so far is a sign and a Facebook page.
“No one knows that we’re here besides word of mouth,” Amanda Budziak said.
The couple has three kids, one of whom was running the counter on Tuesday afternoon. Amanda Budziak said their youngest daughter, Sara, serves as a taste tester for the hotdogs.
“My kids won’t even eat store-bought hotdogs anymore,” Richard Budziak said.
Richard Budziak has big plans to expand his business. For now, though, he is starting with seven hotdogs on his menu and a few sandwiches. For the actual hotdog, Budziak has two meat recipes — all handmade beef or beef and pork.
“The beef and pork is a true Vienna-style sausage,” Richard Budziak said. “In America, it’s known as a weiner. When it’s a weiner, it’s beef and pork and it’s in the sheet casing — that’s what really makes it a weiner compared to a hotdog. Then a lot of people just prefer an all-beef recipe, and so I just started making them and they became a good hit with everybody.”
Richard Budziak was born in Detroit so, naturally, his favorite dog is the Coney Dog. In addition, though, his menu includes “New York’s Weiner” and “Chicago’s Dog.” While preparing the three classics, Budziak dropped tips to make a good hotdog, such as how to add some kick to a recipe and why his relish for the Chicago Dog was so green.
Richard Budziak said he specifically ordered the relish from Chicago.
“You can’t have a Chicago Dog without the right kind of relish,” Richard Budziak said. When asked why it was so green, Budziak said, “I’m from Detroit, I don’t know nothing about it. All I know is I had to have the right stuff from Chicago.”
Richard Budziak added sandwiches to his menu the second week in business.
“We’re already making the hotdogs — I want to start making my own meat as well,” Richard Budziak said. “The bacons that I use will be my own, the pastrami that I use will be my own, the corned beef I use will be my own. So I’m putting sandwiches there to see which ones really catch on and using quality meat from somebody else at first. Then I’ll branch into making it myself, just like I did with the hotdogs.”
Richard Budziak said his number-one priority is the quality of his product.
“That’s the main thing — I’m really about the quality of the food you’re eating,” Richard Budziak said.