A new Coney Island has opened up in Detroit, just north of Hamtramck. Coney Star Halal offers halal breakfast foods, Coney dogs, corn beef egg rolls and more. Customers order from the counter of the newly-remodeled building with marble-looking floor tile and galactic wallpaper.
Halal means that the food is permissible for Muslims to eat, according to Islamic law.
“Growing up in America, we have adapted to the culture here,” says Reeti Choudhury. She co-owns the place with her brother-in-law, Syeed Choudhury. They are both Bangladeshi-American. “We love food and halal options are important to us. We want to add our twist into this food concept.”
“I used to have two little brothers and sisters and I would wake up in the morning and make them noodles and serve them cereal like I was the waiter.” — Coney Star Halal co-owner Syeed Choudhury
“We have everything cooked to order, everything is made in-house,” says Syeed. “And most of the stuff is locally purchased from Eastern Market.”
Reeti moved to Warren, Mich. from the Bronx in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks happened in New York. Syeed moved to Detroit from New Jersey in the 1990s. At one point, he actually lived in a house that can be seen from the front door of his new restaurant.
“So right there, the third house, it’s a little tiny house,” Syeed says from outside the restaurant. “It looks crazy over there right now.”
Syeed says he’s wanted to own a Coney Island since he was a kid.
“I used to have two little brothers and sisters and I would wake up in the morning and make them noodles and serve them cereal like I was the waiter,” he recalls. Later, for his first paid job, he bussed tables at PF Chang’s. “And finally, everything came together. I saved up a lot of money and put a lot of hard work, money, sweat and tears into it.”
Reeti says her husband Razu Choudhury, Syeed’s brother, is helping out but is not a partner. Razu has partnerships with two restaurants, Halal Street in the Detroit Shipping Company and My Thai Halal Kitchen, located in Sterling Heights.
“We do not come from families who’ve passed down their wealth or businesses,” says Reeti. “So we aim to be good role models, attract diversity and give back to this area and surrounding areas, God willing.”
Halal food is available in many places in Metro Detroit, especially in communities with a sizable Muslim population like certain pockets in Detroit, Hamtramck, Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.
“It’s not hard to find halal things, but it’s welcoming when I see a sign that says ‘halal’,” says customer Ibrahim Saddiq. The Hamtramck resident stopped by after seeing a post about Coney Star Halal on Facebook.
While halal food in the region isn’t rare, there aren’t that many halal Coney Islands. Leo’s Coney Island has a halal menu and Ray’s in Hamtramck is a halal Coney Island, but neither are open 24 hours.
“We’re trying to cater to the people that are working late, so we’ll be 24 hours,” Syeed says.
Coney Star Halal has been open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday since its soft opening on Friday, Nov. 11. Its grand opening “Community Support Event” is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 23, from 2-8 p.m., and will include free food and activities for kids, weather permitting.
On Thursday, Nov. 24, Coney Star Halal is planning to start being open 24 hours Tuesday through Sunday, but will continue to be closed Mondays. Coney Star Halal is located at 13347 Conant St., Detroit, MI 48212