Carl's Coney Island: Simple favorites served up at longtime eatery
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Scene Writer
Thursday, May 03, 2012
3/28/13 at 8:37 AM
Shirley Kennedy's work history gave no hint she would wind up operating a coney place for the past 18 years.
"I worked in the booking room at the Municipal Criminal Court and was ticket manager at the Performing Arts Center, but I've come to love this job," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said she took over Carl's Coney Island in 1994 after she and Carl Kennedy divorced. Carl Kennedy, who sold Carl's Chili to area restaurants for many years, founded the restaurant during a previous marriage in 1971.
"No matter what was happening with the economy, this always has been a good business, and I love seeing our customers every day," Shirley Kennedy said. "This is home."
We noticed many customers knew Kennedy by name when we made a recent visit for a coney fix and to try out the restaurant's spaghetti.
Two of us opted for a three-way platter ($5.99 each). On one platter we ordered a cheese coney, a kraut dog and a dinner salad, and on the other two cheese coneys and a taco salad.
The coneys were prepared with the traditional steamed buns and delivered a good, old-fashioned flavor with chili, shredded cheddar and onions. Mustard was the only condiment served with the sauerkraut, which had a pleasingly mellow flavor.
The tortillas were fresh and crunchy in the taco salad, which also included bright red tomatoes, black olives, chili, shredded cheddar and salsa. Jalapenos are optional.
Medium-sized pasta was topped with the dark chili, beans and melted cheddar cheese in the three-way spaghetti ($5.99 large serving) we shared as a side dish. The chili showed a little spiciness and had a meaty flavor.
The menu had a couple of interesting choices, phony coneys and the Ernie Special. Phony coneys have mustard, cheese, chili and onions but no weiner. The Ernie Special is spaghetti and beans and costs $3.59, $5.29 or $5.99, depending on size.
"When Ernie Jones was athletic director at Webster High School he would call in orders for that. He didn't want the chili," Kennedy said. "Others started ordering it, too, so we put it on the board."
Other items on the menu include Polish sausage, burritos and Frito pie. Prices start at $1.50 for a regular coney and top out at $5.99 for various combos.
The dining room, painted mauve, pale gray and white, is decorated with old-fashioned pictures of country and Old West scenes. Some items are showing their age, but the room is sparkling clean.
The restaurant is one of the few remaining businesses still operating in the once-thriving Crystal City shopping center.
"They are starting to revive Route 66, and I think the shopping center has a good chance to attract more businesses in the future," Kennedy said.
Carl's Coney Island was named Business of the Year for 2012 by the Southwest Tulsa Chamber of Commerce.
Kennedy said her restaurant has no connection to any others with the same name.
CARL’S CONEY ISLAND
4285 Southwest Blvd.
Service: Order at counter
(on a scale of 0-4 stars)
10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Monday-Friday; cash only.
Original Print Headline: Simple favorite
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
This combo plate includes two cheese coneys with all the trimmings and a taco salad. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World