Chuck Keros, second-generation owner of Detroit’s iconic American Coney Island, has died.
He was 88.
Keros was the son of Gust Keros, a Greek immigrant, who created the famous chili dog and founded American Coney Island on Lafayette in 1917.
Keros died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He died at home on Dec. 28 surrounded by family, his daughter, Grace Keros, said.
The family had a private funeral with a procession that took them past the iconic American Coney Island, Keros said, to his burial at Grand Lawn Cemetery Detroit. Keros was buried near his father.
“He was sent off like a king. It was spectacular,” she said.
Keros described her father as a hard worker who loved travel, enjoyed life, and was generous.
“My father knew how to work hard and play hard,” she said. “He loved his faith, family, and his business. “The generosity he had to a fault. He helped so many people get to where they are today in this town. That was one of the things he instilled in us.”
Keros said he also enjoyed the finer things and was always in a suit and tie, Keros said.
“It was a big deal. Everyday. That was just him. Even if you saw him on a casual weekend. He was dressed to the nines every time,” Keros said.
Born in 1933, Chuck Keros attended the University of Detroit Jesuit high school. Afterward, he attended the University of Michigan with plans on becoming a dentist. After a couple of years, he dropped out and returned to Detroit to help his father run the restaurant business.
It was Keros who kept the restaurant open 24 hours, year-round, even during times of unrest, such as the 1967 riots. He also expanded the menu introducing coney fries and the loose burger.
Along with American Coney Island on Lafayette in Detroit, he also operated Keros Coney Island restaurants at several area malls. Grace Keros noted and recalled that her father owned several toy stores at area malls called Olympia Toys.
He retired in the early 1990s and his daughter, Grace, jumped into the business.
After retiring, Keros traveled more but he would also pop in and out of the restaurants. “He loved talking with customers and all the people,” Keros said.
Grace Keros and Chris Sotiropoulos now own and operate American Coney Island. They’ve grown the business to include locations at the Detroit Zoo and at the D Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Keros is survived by his children Grace Keros, Angela Badra, Connie Keros and stepson Chris Sotiropoulos and five grandchildren.
Contact Detroit Free Press food writer Susan Selasky and send food and restaurant news to: 313-222-6872 or email@example.com. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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