Alexa Seeger · Erika Greco · Jamal Tyler · Laura Bohannon

And the Best Coney Island in East Lansing is…

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Michigan, eat like Michiganders do. Michigan, while not a culinary metropolis, takes a lot of pride in its coney dogs.

We visited four coney island restaurants — that’s a coney to you and me — in the Lansing area: Sparty’s Coney Island Restaurant, T & D Coney Grill, Leo’s Coney Island and Zeus’ Coney Island.

In hopes of finding the best Coney we could, and learning how Coney Island restaurants set themselves apart, we conducted a scavenger hunt for elements that make a coney stand out. We compared logos, interiors of restaurants, seating, customer reviews and, obviously, the coneys themselves.

Please click on any of the photos to read their captions, and read to the end to find out which coney island restaurant is the “Competition Conscious” Coney Island Winner.

Our first item on our scavenger hunt list was a picture of the storefronts. Location can matter for restaurants in competitive markets.

Our second item on our scavenger hunt was a picture of their logo. Logos help increase brand recognition and hopefully, customer loyalty.

Our third item on our scavenger hunt list was written testimonials. Testimonials help encourage new customers to try a restaurant, since it is recommended. Only Sparty’s and Zeus’ clearly featured testimonials.

Our fourth item on our scavenger hunt was a picture of the restaurants’ interiors. A restaurant’s atmosphere can help customers feel comfortable or at home.

Our fifth item on our scavenger hunt list were any take-homes the restaurants offered. Take-homes, such as menus or magnets can help a business stay at the forefront of a customer’s mind, especially if it’s useful. Only Sparty’s offered a take-home menu.

Our sixth item on our scavenger hunt list was a picture of their menus. We were particularly interested in accessibility and pricing.

Unusual menu items
Our seventh item on our scavenger hunt list was any unusual menu items. All of the coney island restaurants we visited had expanded their menus beyond coney dogs.

Our eighth item on our scavenger hunt list was a screenshot of their website. In our technological age, restaurants can increase their exposure with a well designed, accessible website. You can visit Leo’s Coney Island’s website here, Sparty’s Coney Island Restaurant website here, T & D Coney Grill’s website here and Zeus’ Coney Island website here.

Unique competitive strategies
Our ninth item on our scavenger hunt list was something unique the restaurant offers. Leo’s Coney Island and Sparty’s Coney Island Restaurant both employed notable strategies to set themselves apart.

Managers’ perspectives
Our tenth item on our scavenger hunt list was a quote from an owner, manager or employee on what makes their coney island restaurant special. The Leo’s employees declined to comment.

Our last scavenger hunt list item was, of course, the coney itself.

After tallying the points from our competitive strategies scavenger hunt, we declare Sparty’s Coney Island Restaurant the Competition Conscious Coney Island Winner!

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