Flint Coney FAQ

Last updated February 23, 2015

Following are the Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Flint Coney, and the various Flint Coney sauce recipes. Hopefully, this will clear up some of the rumors and folklore surrounding the dish.

That would have been Flint Coney Island, aka “Flint’s Original”, which operated at 202 S. Saginaw St. from 1924 – 1979.


None of those images are public domain, especially those of the families. Just because an image is on the internet or in a book does not mean it’s available for anyone to use. People do so, however, particularly where the families who were involved in the development of the Flint Coney are concerned, and in doing so they disrespect the very families they claim to respect. Doing so is seriously bad form, and is also illegal. As to other historical images, those are curated by the Flint Journal Archives at the Sloan Museum in Flint, or the Scharchburg Archives at Kettering University, also in Flint. We will not post any of those images here as it’s simply not the right thing to do without permission.


Send me a message through my Contact Form and we’ll discuss it. But you may not do so without my express permission.


This is what’s known as “Two Up”: Preferably in pairs, the natural casing hot dog, a Koegel Coney or Vienna, is grilled and placed within a steamed bun. It’s then topped with Flint Coney sauce, along with two lines of yellow mustard and a plethora of finely-chopped onion. These are then served with a side of French fries.


No. The original owners sold Angelo’s in 1998 and have never returned. The chronology of owners is:

1949 – 1998:

  • Vangel T. “Angelo” Nicoloff
  • Carl Paul
  • Angelo Popoff
  • Tom W. Branoff
  • Tom V. Branoff
  • Angelo Branoff

1998-2003:

  • Neil Helmkay
  • Tom Zelvrovski

2003-present:

  • Neil Helmkay

The original Angelo, Vangel T. Nicoloff, Isn’t even the Angelo most people remember. Angelo Branoff is the one who people likely remember. Vangel T. “Angelo” Nicoloff, the restaurant’s namesake, was born in Boufi, Macedonia, in 1912 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1928 at the age of 16 to join his father, Anthony Nicoloff, who owned the San Juan Chili Parlor in Flint from 1927 – 1945. Angelo also worked for Simion Brayan at the actual original Flint Coney Island for a time before founding Angelo’s on Davison Rd. in 1949, 25 years after Brayan first opened his restaurant. Angelo passed away in 1969, so most people today who claim to have known him likely never met him.


No, we do not. We have collected all the recipes we could find, and have developed rather accurate “copycat” versions of, for example, Abbott’s Original Coney Island Topping sauce, along with some others. (You can get to these from our Sauce Recipes page.) But we do not claim to have any of the original recipes.


We’re aware of one actual restaurant recipe that has ever been released. In 1991 the Michigan Restaurant Association published “A Taste of Michigan”, a collection of more than 200 recipes from Michigan restaurants. David Gillie of Gillie’s Coney Island in Mt. Morris contributed a recipe to this book, “Gillie’s Flint Coney Island Hot Dog Chili Topping”. Regarding this recipe, Gillie has tld us “I made one change in that published recipe: I changed the normal extra fine raw ground ‘beef, beef heart, soy texture’ that I buy from Abbott’s Meat in 25# bags with suggesting they use lean hamburg and grind it extra fine.” Our test of Gillie’s recipe can be found here.

We do need to point out that there is no such thing as a single restaurant recipe for Flint Coney sauce. Abbott’s Meat provides a sauce base to the restaurants consisting of beef, beef heart and soy flour. This is the foundation for each restaurant’s individual recipe for the sauce, and is why there are so many minor variations in flavor.


This rumor is normally given as “This was published in the Flint Journal some time after the death of the man who created it. His wife allowed it to be published.” However, Brayan’s wife Velicia passed away in 1976, while Simion himself lived until the age of 100, not passing until 1990, so this particular rumor is patently false.


Not to put too fine a point on it, there’s no such thing. The Flint Coney sauce Koegel’s distributes is Abbott’s Original Flint Coney Sauce, which we do have a recipe for off our Recipes page. They also carry two other products; their Hot Dog Chili Sauce, which is specifically a Detroit Syle Coney Sauce, and their Chili Topping, which is more of a Chili Con Carne and does not include beef heart as the Flint, Detroit, and Jackson coney sauces do.


Our investigation into this particular recipe, and the myths and folklore surrounding it, have become rather involved. We’ve put together a page with all the information we’ve collected so far, which is available by clicking here. We’ve included our own version of that recipe on this site as the Homestyle Flint Coney Sauce Recipe.


According to Edward Abbott, who eighty plus years later is still making the ground meat base for Flint’s coney island sauce, the only meat ingredient is beef heart, regardless of the stories and rumors of other meat parts being used.” (Two to Go: A Short History of Flint’s Coney Island Restaurants”, by Florine, Davison & Jaeger and published in 2007 by the Genesee County Historical Society) In the same book, Simion P. Brayan is described as saying there were also beef kidneys in the Macedonian goulash he based the sauce on. The flavor of kidney can indeed be identified in some versions of the sauce at various restaurants. There may be liver, ground beef and other ingredients in some as well, but the original sauce base only contains beef heart, with rendered beef suet (aka beef tallow) also being included as a melted fat element.


None of them do. However each is a derivative of the original in some manner as many early operators started at Flint Coney Island.


None of them do. This recipe was never written down, as per Simion P. Brayan, who developed it before handing off production to Abbott’s Meats. People of his generation simply didn’t write down recipes. Edward Abbott is also quoted as saying of his butchers and cooks, “Taste varied according to the size of the chef’s hand”, meaning Abbott’s doesn’t have any measurements to use in the production of the sauce. There’s really no copy of Brayan’s original recipe for any of the restaurants to have.


This is possible. Some of the Flint Coney shops have developed their own version of Simion P. Brayan’s original Flint Coney sauce, which they may have stored somewhere. But it wouldn’t be Brayan’s recipe.


We have no idea. There may very well be as many versions as there are Flint Coney shops. Fortunately, the various sauces all proudly reflect the style of Simion P. Brayan’s original sauce.


No, this is false. Besides the dozens of Coney shops in Genesee County, we’ve located restaurants in other areas of Michigan that serve the Flint Coney, including Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Mt. Pleasant, Standish and other cities. Nationally, we know also of restaurants in Minnesota, West Virginia and as far as Florida serving them. Please visit our Restaurants page for an interactive map and a complete list.


Abbott’s Original Coney Island Topping is available for home purchase from Lynch Shipping, in partnership with Koegel Meats, in a 4 lb bag at buykoegels.com. A 10 lb bag is also available on their site by clicking here. Koegel Coneys are also available for home purchase from Lynch Shipping, in partnership with Koegel Meats, in a 10 lb box at buykoegels.com.