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A hot dog is shown at Coney Island restaurant in downtown Sioux City on Oct. 20, 2010. The hot dog restaurant, one of three locally owned by Greeks, has been in Steve Margeas' family since 1918.

SIOUX CITY | When you think of Greek cuisine, it's likely you imagine baklavas or gyros.

But what about chili dogs?

Sioux City has three restaurants that specialize in Coney Island-style hot dogs. Two of them have been around for nearly a century and all are Greek-owned.

Coney Island was founded by Greek immigrant George Margeas in 1918. The venerable restaurant, at 502 Nebraska St., is now owned by his son, Steve Margeas.

"Long before McDonald's or Burger King, hot dogs were the original fast food," Margeas said. "If you wanted food that was fast and good and cheap, you wanted a Coney Island."

Coney Island soon had competition from Milwaukee Wiener House, which also was founded in 1918.

Now located at 301 Douglas St., Milwaukee has been Greek-owned throughout its entire history. Brothers Mike and John Eliades are the current owners.

Even though he first opened up shop in 1975, George Demetroulis' George's Hot Dog Shop, at 1419 Hamilton Blvd., is still a relative newcomer to Sioux City's hot dog scene.

Along with his wife Mary, Demetroulis emigrated from Greece in 1970.

"We left Greece with just four suitcases," he said. "To be able to open our own restaurant just five years later was miraculous."

Even though he offers gyros on his small menu, Demetroulis' specialty has always been hot dogs that are topped with freshly-cut onions.

"A chopped onion should have the consistency of a diamond," he said. "That's what you get on every hot dog I make."

According to Demetroulis, he's served hot dog fans from California, New York and everywhere in between.

Margeas said Coney Island -- the site of countless birthdays, high school reunions and anniversaries -- serves as a living tribute, not only to his family but also to downtown Sioux City.

"Coney Island has always been more than food," he said. "It's also been about the memories."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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