History Of The Flint Coney: Excerpt


The left image is page 70 from the Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1914. The upper map was defined at the Conference of London of 1912 – 1913, while the lower map was the result of the Treaty of Bukarest (sic) of 1913. The draft map on the right shows the location of Akritas, which was known as the village of Boufi prior to the 1913 Treaty.

The following is an excerpt from the Flint Coney history I’ve been researching and writing since 2012. This is currently an unpublished work and its development is ongoing. Copyright remains with us. The line drawaings with “Sample” through them are part of that work. The collection of completed images can be seen by clicking here.

An example of the atrocities that happened during the Balkan Wars in the early twentieth century can be realized by looking into what occurred at he village of Boufi, Florina, Macedonia. Boufi was quite small, with populations never exceeding a couple thousand people. But as of the late twentieth century, the renamed village of Akritas had a population of only around 200 people, depending on the source of the record. The events that occurred there in the early 1900s were downright brutal, and require a closer look as they were the cause of the mass emigration from the area to other parts of the world.

In the early twentieth century the prefecture of Florina was in turmoil, along with the rest of Macedonia. On August 23, 1903, the Los Angeles Herald reported that the previous day “… the villages ‘of Boufi, Rakaro and Armcsko, near Florina, have been bombarded and their insurgent garrisons annihilated. At Boufi alone 500 Bulgarians are reported to have been killed. The women and children escaped to the mountains.’” [“Insurgent Garrisons Wiped Out – Three Villages Near Fiorina Have Been Abandoned”. Los Angeles Herald, Volume XXX, Number 320, 1903.] In 1914 the Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars, from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, stated that during this time “… there are a thousand deaths and, in the final result, 200 villages ruined by Turkish vengeance, 12,000 houses burned, 3,000 women outraged, 4,700 inhabitants slain and 71,000 without a roof.” [Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1914.]

Akritas, formerly known as Boufi, as shown in Google Street View. This is the active Street View, and can be manipulated as usual.

In Macedonia during the second Balkan War in the summer of 1913 it seems Boufi remained untouched, as there is apparently nothing described in official documentation. The fighting appears to have occurred elsewhere, most of the atrocities occurring east of Florina in villages such as Serres and Doxato. But as it had been only ten years since the atrocities in Boufi of 1903, it’s quite possible there was simply not much left. [Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1914.]

Boufi was later renamed Akritas as per the Treaty of Bucharest in 1913 when the Florina prefecture was granted to Greece. [Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1914.]

First Instance


A map project I’m working on of historical Flint Coney locations, including key past and restaurants.

There is constant debate about when and where the Coney Island hot dog was first served. The earliest known year is 1914, with both Ft. Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Wiener Stand in Ft. Wayne, Indiana [“History page“, Ft. Wayne’s Famous Coney Island], and Todoroff’s Original Coney Island in Jackson, Michigan [“Todoroff’s Original Coney Island“, Jackson, MI], opening that year. As specific opening dates for those two locations are not known, and it also being unclear if there are other earlier openings at other locations, the first instance of the Coney Island hot dog is yet unknown and no reliable claim can be made.

A timeline of openings of the earliest coney island restaurants in widespread areas of the US is rather telling:

  • 1914 – Ft. Wayne Coney Island, Ft. Wayne, Indiana
  • 1914 – Todoroff’s Coney Island, Jackson, Michigan
  • 1915 – Coney Island Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • 1916 – Coney Island Lunch, McKeesport, Pennsylvania (closed 2017)
  • 1917 – American Coney Island, Detroit, Michigan
  • 1918(?) – Lafayette Coney Island, Detroit, Michigan
    (The story about the American and Lafayette coney shops can be found here.)
  • 1921 – Red Hot’s Coney Island, Highland Park, Michigan
  • 1921 – Original Coney Island, Duluth, Minnesota (closed 2017)
  • 1922 – Empress Chili, Cincinnati, Ohio
    (While not specifically termed a “coney island”, the Macedonion roots and culture are uniquely similar to other coney shops of the time.)
  • 1923 – James Coney Island, Houston, Texas
  • 1925 – Flint’s Original Coney Island, Flint, Michigan (closed 1979)
    Note: Flint Coney Island first appeared in city directories in 1926.
  • 1926 – Coney Island Hot Weiners, Tulsa, Oklahoma
    (Founder and Greek immigrant Christ Economou had opened Coney Island Lunch in McKeesport, Pennsylvania ten years earlier, which closed in 2017. Coney Island Hot Weiners in Tulsa was his 27th coney shop, and his first in Oklahoma.)
  • 1928 – Coney Island Deluxe, Duluth, Minnesota

Except for Lafayette and American Coney Islands in Detroit, each of the owners would likely not have known what the others were doing, as communication between immigrants in those days was sparse. It’s also clear that the owners immigrated from various parts of Greece and Macedonia at various times. That the Coney Island phenomenon occured at all is an interesting matter.

It turns out there is a second immigration record for Flint Coney founder Simion Brayan, after his initial immigration in 1916. It was at the port city of Buffalo, New York. According to the St. Albans Lists he immigrated to that city from Canada in May of 1921, reporting that the last time he immigrated to the U.S. was October 7, 1916. Velicia was listed as his wife, and his earlier immigration aboard the Re d Italia was also noted on the document. Apparently Brayan had traveled from Ellis Island on October 6 and headed for Youngstown, Ohio, as per the 1916 document. It’s unclear where his travels took him from there, as the May 1921 U.S. immigration record from Buffalo listed his last place of permanent residence as Toronto, Canada, and his occupation as “fur dryer”. There’s no known record of exactly when Brayan went to Toronto, or why, but his destination as reported for the 1921 immigration record was a friend’s house, a Mr. Kosher [sic} at 54 Court St. in Buffalo. (National Archives and Records Administration 1921)


A view of Heid’s Of Liverpool, New York, near Rochester. The shop still serves the type of Coney Simion Brayan would have had after his second immigration at Buffalo in 1921.

It’s been reported that Brayan visited a lunch counter in Rochester, New York, probably while he was in Buffalo after his second immigration in 1921, and supposedly ordered what they called a “coney island”. He was quoted as saying it was “practically tasteless … unfit for a young man whose palate was accustomed to the hardy cuisine of southeast Europe … They used ground beef, a little chili powder, a little paprika, but it had no taste.” Thinking back to the Macedonian goulash he’d eaten back in Boufi, which contained beef heart and occasionally beef kidney, all in a beef suet base, he determined he could make a better coney sauce based on the heartiness of that Macedonian dish. (Florine, Davison & Jaeger 2007)

In the above paragraph I wrote that he “supposedly ordered what they called a ‘coney island'”. I wrote it that way because the shop likely wouldn’t have been a “coney island hot dog” as we know it. The Rochester area is well-known for Feltman’s Red Hots, which is a frankfurter, and is even more well-known for a more local Wiesswurst-like sausage offering known as a White Hot. The White Hot was originally made from lesser-quality and less expensive meats and fillers than the Red Hot, although they’re now made with higher-quality ingredients. Restaurants in the Rochester area serve both the Red Hot and the White Hot, which are both topped with a dry sauce that’s remarkably similar in consistency to the later Flint Coney sauce.