Nick Manus has revived Phillips Original Coney Island in a style that most contemporary diners would understand — with a food truck, appropriately named Phillip’s on Wheels.
Manus is the great-grandson of Greek immigrant Phillip Manus, who founded the Franklinton staple in 1912.
It’s been about a year since Phillips Original Coney Island closed its doors, leaving behind a more-than century-old tradition.
The family sold the building, 450 W. Broad St., to a developer. What will emerge is called the Gravity Project, which will offer retail and commercial opportunities on that spot and adjacent properties.
“It was at the point we were going to have to dump a lot of money into the building,” Manus said. “It was a bit emotional but something had to change.”
Last year, Manus purchased a used food truck and launched the mobile business in November — “exactly the wrong time to start a food truck.”
At the end of December, he decided to have it customized and ready for 2018. Phillip’s on Wheels returned to the streets on Saturday at the A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson, directly across the street from the old Phillips Original.
But for the 140-seat dining room, Phillip’s is essentially the same, serving hot dogs custom-made at locally based Falters Fine Meats.
The Coney sauce, more of a smooth chili, simmers for six hours before it’s ready. A standard dog with Coney sauce, cheese, onions and mustard is $3.50. Other versions are available.
Also on the menu are sliders, seasonal soups, starters and milkshakes.
“We’re looking forward to the food-truck season,” Manus said, noting he has three more stops on his schedule in February.
He said he hasn’t scheduled any real pattern for the truck just yet, choosing an easy pace for now and planning on ramping up business when the weather is warmer.
Manus is the lone remaining family member active in the business. His father, Jim, is retired; brother, Demetrios, occasionally pitches in.
A second family-owned Phillips in the Short North closed several years ago. It was recast as Philco Bar + Diner by another local restaurant group.
Manus said he has been searching for another brick-and-mortar spot for Phillips, hoping to keep it in the Franklinton neighborhood, if possible.
“It’s in progress,” he said of the area. “It’s definitely getting better. And I hope it maintains the character it’s always had.”
To check on the food-truck’s schedule when it’s set, visit phillipsonwheels.com. For more information, call 740-604-0225.
Dispatch restaurant reporter Gary Seman Jr. can be reached at [email protected]