R.J. Rzeppa has never owned a coney island or any other kind of restaurant before, but he’s seen the inside of plenty of them, working for “transportation companies in the Detroit area, delivering dry goods to restaurants. Napkins, that kind of thing.”
Six months ago he bought Mr. Greek’s on State Street. He’s cleaned, painted, redecorated, and a few months ago he got the new signage up. It is now officially RJ’s Coney Island. Like most coneys, the establishment itself is fiercely under the control of a single family, while the menu seems to mainly come from some central coney repository. Rzeppa and wife, Anne Marie, a nurse who works in Detroit, are the family. Rzeppa says he’s made some changes to the menu: “There’s a full dessert menu, and I added a signature Bacon8er burger, named after my son Nate” (whose name you can hear, if you can’t see). Nate is a partner as well, though he lives in Chicago. He’s also added outside seating.
Rzeppa didn’t name the restaurant after himself–it honors his father R.J., a Ford worker who died when Rzeppa was eleven years old.
RJ’s Coney Island, 215 S. State, 662-6336. Daily 8 a.m.-8 p.m. rjsconeyrestaurant.com.