Phillip Manus came to the United States from Greece. He arrived in New York City, slowly made his way through the Midwest and settled in Columbus.
In 1912, he opened a restaurant that sold hot dogs, something of an oddity in those days.
“The only thing we could figure is that he could’ve picked [the idea] up along the way,” said Nick Manus, the fourth-generation president of the family business.
The origin of Phillip’s Coney Island is a mystery, but its success is legend.
The business celebrates its 100th birthday on Friday, Jan. 13 — which makes it about four years older than Nathan’s Famous in New York City.
Locations have changed over the years, but the main fare has remained the same.
“We haven’t really followed many fads,” said Nick Manus, who has worked full-time in the wiener business since his senior year of high school.
Phillip Manus opened his original store along High Street, then moved it to 1244 W. Broad St. His two sons followed him into the business. George Manus opened the shop in the Short North that was later sold out of the family, and William Manus helped his father open a new Franklinton location near Wilson Avenue.
During the next several decades, family members opened other locations around Central Ohio. Today, Phillip’s Original Coney Island, the family’s only remaining shop, is located at 450 W. Broad St.
Regardless of where shops were situated, Coneys have always been the most popular item, Nick Manus said. As part of the birthday celebration, the store will offer $1 Coneys and other promotions through Jan. 14.
The contents of the staple entree are simple: steamed bun, grilled wiener, yellow mustard, diced onions and Coney sauce. The sauce recipe, however, is a closely-guarded secret that was never written down and passed along to male relatives who worked at the store.
Nick Manus learned it years ago. It’s one of the reasons he stuck with the business.
“I think I always knew it was here, so I never worried about doing other things,” he said. “I kind of worked myself into a career.”