From the late 1800s, New York’s Coney Island blossomed into America’s iconic summer getaway—a fun-filled seaside resort where families could enjoy a sandy beach, amusement park rides, and a boardwalk lined with snack shops and game booths. One of the island’s many pleasures was hot dogs. The grab-and-go snack became so closely associated with the peninsular destination that it became known as a “coney.”
Family fun and hot dogs were so intertwined in the mid-20th century that when Lakewood’s Marcus Shannon began envisioning a chain of hot dog diners in 1966, he designed his prototype in the shape of a 42-foot-long, mustard-and-relish-covered wiener resting on a 35-foot bun. Sadly, Shannon’s business went under shortly after the first diner was built on West Colfax. In 1970, a new owner relocated the famed frank—which weighs about 18 tons—to the tiny mountain town of Aspen Park on U.S. 285. Despite the daunting logistics, the diner was moved again in 2006 to its current location next to the South Platte River on the outskirts of Bailey in Park County.
Last May, John Wallace, a former owner of William’s Tavern in Denver’s uptown neighborhood, purchased the giant dog—only to discover that it was in need of some serious renovation. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wallace opened the bun for business last June.
In true Colorado fashion, Wallace decided to offer as much local fare as possible. Instead of finding greasy fast food at the stand, which is now named the Coney Island Boardwalk, feasters will find gourmet, antibiotic-free dogs and bratwurst from Continental Sausage, condiments from Elevation Ketchup and Merf’s Mustard, and all-natural beverages from Rocky Mountain Soda. Wallace also makes a point to source local potatoes for his Belgian-style fries whenever possible.
The hot dog stand’s short list of options include modern twists like the Elk-jalapeño bratwurst. But the classic coney—a foot-long frank with meat chili and onions—is a menu main-stay. It might not be Brooklyn, but enjoying a dog at this iconic Colorado stand can compete with a Coney Island experience any day.
Visit: The Coney Island Boardwalk is located at 10 Old Stagecoach Road (just south of U.S. 285) in Bailey, 36 miles southwest of Golden. It is open on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. and Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m.–7 p.m.