So Long, King of Queens
Hello, Gyro Palace.
by Sally Mitani
"The economy is bad for small places. It's been a tough route," says Naser Derneika, owner of several Coney Islands around town called King of Queens, the last of which just bit the dust. Unlike the others, this K of Q got a second lease on life as the Gyro Palace.
When Derneika opened King of Queens in the Colonnade a few years ago, there were already several other restaurants in the small crescent-shaped mall, but he thought he had a lock on the burger and fries market. Then Bagger Dave's opened. "The competition in the plaza is a little overwhelming. We used to sell a lot of burgers, so we either have to compete with someone with a huge sign that says 'burger and fries'--or change." The sign actually says "Legendary Burgers and Fries"--and Bagger Dave's also has a liquor license.
Gyro Palace is focused on Middle Eastern favorites, like fattoush, grape leaves, hummus, and, of course, gyros. "I grew up on this food," says Derneika, who is Lebanese. He had gyros on the menu before--what coney doesn't?--but it was a presliced, frozen product. "In order to use the cone [of fresh meat], you have to sell eighty orders per day," he says. He'll be using the Kronos brand of cone, which he prefers to its primary rival, Grecian Delight, because it's not as salty.
The other surprise he's rolling out that he hopes will rescue him from the heavy shadow of Bagger Dave's is "hippie hash," available every day, but particularly showcased in a weekend breakfast buffet. He dismisses any suggestion that he's copying one of the Fleetwood's signature items: "I don't know how they make it--we create our own."
Gyro Palace, 865 Eisenhower (Colonnade). 997-9848. Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. gyropalaceannarbor.com
[Originally published in September, 2010.]
On February 13, 2011, mm wrote:
We were there today. The floors and booths were dirty. The menus were sticky. Our waters ALL had grime on the bottom of the inside of the glasses. I'm serious: you could stir it up with your straw if you dug into it. The plates on which the food arrived were plastic and stained. The ketchup bottle had brown crust around the top and was not useable. The fries were under-done and tasted as if they were cooked in rancid grease. The chili tasted of spoiled beef fat. I've never experienced such a failure of the classic metro-Detroit signature Coney item of chili-cheese fries. The garlic sauce on the chicken shawarma was broken and curdled. The tahini on the falafel was watered down. The spinach pie triangles made my wife gag. None of the items tasted authentic: whether coney, greek or middle eastern. Thankfully, my four year old son had no complaints about the "plain jane" hot dog. The server, who was also the "chef", was the only pleasant part of the experience: he was honest enough to steer us away from the moussaka. The thought of an "all you can eat" buffet absolutely turns my stomach. We will NOT be returning to this restaurant.