Hot Dog! Rockaway Dog House Goes Red Hot!

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Let’s be frank. Rockaway native, Kenny Good is no newbie to the restaurant business. Good, together with his brother, Steve, owned quite a successful repertoire of restaurants, including the legendary Beach Club, Sunset Diner, Delicious Endings, All American Eatery and Last Stop. And now after a 10-year hiatus, the resilient restaurant entrepreneur, Kenny Good, is back on his own with a new venture, Rockaway Dog House (RDH), and judging from the droves of people queuing up to grab his food at his retro, Playland-themed space, all looks good for Good. Plus with the announcement that the Dog House is now exclusively selling the pioneer of juicy hot dogs, Feltman’s of Coney Island — locals — get ready to eat your buns off!

According to Good, he’s been in the restaurant business since he was a teenager. “My brother, Steve, and I first owned Last Stop on Beach 116th Street. Following my father’s footsteps, we were both union steamfitters at the time, making good money. However after we were fired, we knew the guy who was selling the place, so we pooled our money together and gave him a down payment and he held the mortgage for us for seven years, and we just grew from there.

“As kids, when my father owned the Belle Harbor Travel Agency across the street, we always used to go there when at the time, it was called Surf Snacks.

“Last Stop had full service inside all year long, but during the summer, we had a window, where we used to sell hot dogs, soft served ice cream, knishes — basically beach food. On Sundays, we would only keep the indoor restaurant open for breakfast for locals until noon, then after just sell through the window,” Good said.

After Last Stop, Good said he and his brother continued with other restaurants, but The Beach Club was the highlight. “The Beach Club was great. We had the best staff. At one time, there was about 80 people working there. We used to have a lot of parties, and overall it was a lot of fun!” he reminisced.

However according to Good, things changed when they decided to buy the Ram’s Horn Diner at the other end of Beach 116th Street. “We turned the Beach Club into a catering hall, and focused all our resources on the diner. Unfortunately, the diner business has such little profit margin. For large restaurants, you really make your money with liquor, beer and wine, this is why the Beach Club in it’s hey day was so profitable compared to the diner. However, now reflecting on all our experiences, these were all tough lessons that had to be learned,” Good said.

After moving to Atlantic Beach, then Florida and now in Broad Channel, Good said he feels he’s back to his center. “I worked for FedEx for 10 years, and the food business was calling me, and now here I am at the Rockaway Dog House,” he said.

Good said local property owner, David Selig, communicated with him that the former tenants of where the Dog House is located were not returning, and asked if he was interested. Good, the always-ambitious entrepreneur jumped on the opportunity. “David called me in the last week of April. I just had a short window of time to get this up. My brother, Steve, flew in from Florida to help me transform the space. I envisioned something retro, colorful and welcoming like the old Playland, just selling basic beach food like hot dogs, fries, knishes, sausage and pepper heroes, corn, coffee, fresh juices, etc.,” Good said.

However, with the site being the old home of the original Rockaway Taco, Good said people also came looking to get their taco fix. So he expanded his menu to include mahi-mahi fish, veggie, chorizo, steak, chicken and shrimp tacos. He said that the mahi-mahi is wild caught and all the produce he uses is locally-sourced from Edgemere Farms, and other community gardens.

Though the fish tacos are his top-selling item, Good expects that to change with the recent announcement that the Dog House is selling Feltman’s of Coney Island hot dogs. “When I heard that local restaurant, The Wharf, and Manhattan’s iconic McSorley’s were selling Feltman’s, I contacted Feltman’s owner, Michael Quinn. Their hot dogs are so juicy, the casing nice and firm, the filling nitrate-free, and not to mention the spices are so well balanced and have a little kick. I just knew this would be perfect for the Dog House,” Good said.

As for Quinn, who has Breezy Point roots, said he knew Feltman’s and Good’s Dog House were a perfect marriage. Quinn, also an entrepreneur, resurrected Feltman’s hot dogs in 2015, 61 years later after the hot dog pioneering brand closed in 1954.

Quinn said, “After my middle brother perished in the 9/11 attacks, my other brother and I wanted to start a business in honor of him. He always had dreams of being an entrepreneur, and after some brainstorming over beer and yes — hot dogs, I came up with the idea of resurrecting the original hot dog, Feltman’s. I am a Coney Island tour historian, and was always intrigued with how Nathan’s usurped Feltman’s place as the king of hot dogs.”

After all, before Nathan’s, there was Feltman’s.  The tasty Feltman’s frankfurter was pioneered in 1867 by German immigrant Charles Feltman, considered the inventor of the hot dog on a bun. Feltman arrived in America from Germany in 1856, already familiar with the frankfurter from his home country. The hot dogs, which were known as Coney Island red hots, sold for ten cents each, but interestingly, Feltman’s grew into a restaurant that at one point was dubbed the largest restaurant in the world. However, in 1916, an employee of Feltman’s, Nathan Handwerker, changed the course of hot dog history by opening his own restaurant, Nathan’s Famous. However, judging from the reviews, Feltman’s is top dog once again and the juicy red hots are a new hit on the menu at the Rockaway Dog House.

Good said, “Initially I was thinking that RDH was just going to be a summer establishment, but with the reception from locals and visitors alike, I’m aiming to make it year round. I built an indoor space keeping with the retro and cozy theme. Folks love the food and I love dishing up the best for them.”

Rockaway Dog House is located at 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd. For further information, including opening hours, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

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