Biz Profile – Wild Coney & Grill

Mike Kassem opened his first Wild Coney in Southgate in 2008 and his Woodhaven location in 2013

The new menu at the Wild Coney & Grill is as fresh as the food items on it. According to Al Harajli, general manager of both the Woodhaven and Southgate restaurant locations, the new menu follows his and owner Mike Kassem’s conversations with customers.

“People told us what they liked about our old menu and made suggestions of items they wanted to see added to the new one,” Harajli says. “Believe me, when our customers talk, we listen.”

The result is a menu with much more variety. It features several new vegetarian dishes, a greater selection of Wild Coney’s popular homemade sauces, and even a “build your own burger” option that lets customers customize their hamburger with a choice of toppings. Regular customers will be glad to learn that Wild Coney’s signature Coney dogs are still on the menu, as are Wild Coney’s famous gyros with their homemade Tzatziki sauce.

Both Wild Coneys are open seven days a week, starting at 6 a.m., for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Wild Breakfast, featuring ham, bacon and sausage, and three eggs is still available with hash browns, pancakes, or tomato slices. It is a customer favorite.

The lunch menu features a Greek salad with homemade dressing and hamburgers made from premium Black Angus ground beef. “Not many of our items are frozen,” Harajli says. “Most come to us fresh. The result is a better tasting meal.” He also takes pride in the fact that many menu items are made from scratch.

Dinner features a palate-pleasing choice of a Mediterranean plate with steak or chicken, sautéed in homemade garlic sauce and Wild Coney’s own Mediterranean dressing. It can be served with freshly grilled pita bread and homemade hummus. Two more customer favorites include Wild Coney’s fish and chips and fish and mac. The fish and mac dish features homemade mac and cheese in place of fries.

Harajli also notes that Wild Coney’s soups are a specialty. “Our chicken lemon rice soup is very popular, and we serve chicken paprikash, a Hungarian dish we turned into a soup,” he says. “People tell us they love it.” The fact is, people seem to love all the food at the two Wild Coneys. The restaurants finish in the top three Detroit-area coneys every year in the “Click on Detroit” voting sponsored by WDIV Local 4. “People come to our restaurants from all over southeastern Michigan,” Harajli says. “We have had visitors from as far away as northern Michigan and even Tennessee. Somehow they heard about us and wanted to try our food.”

The writer of one online review raves, “Not only is the food delicious, but the portions are huge.” Another one writes, “I would consider it a solid choice for a reasonably-priced meal.” Still another says that while there are a number of coneys in the area, “We always come back to this one.”

Harajli says he enjoys working at the restaurants because of the customers. “Downriver folks are loyal, hard-working people,” he says. “Many of our regular customers have actually become good friends. They come back time and again because of our food and our friendly staff.”

Another advantage Harajli points out is the staff. “Mr. Kassem gives us all of the tools we need to serve our customers,” he says. “He is a very involved owner who is all about the customer and providing them with a good dining experience.” Mike Kassem opened the first Wild Coney in Southgate in 2008. Harajli adds, “Our wait staff and cooks are great. Many of the people on our staff have been with the Southgate location since the first day.”

The Woodhaven Wild Coney came later, opening on July 1st, 2013. “When we opened that location, some of the veteran staff from our Southgate location helped train the new staff,” Harajli explains. He also alludes to the possibility of a third Wild Coney in the future. “We never like to stand still,” he says.

Harajli, who has been with Wild Coney for six years, arrived on the scene without any restaurant experience. “I had plenty of customer service experience, which helped,” he says, “but I just watched Mr.Kassem. He’s a great boss and a great teacher. He taught me everything I know.”

While he grew up in Detroit, Harajli now resides in Dearborn Heights with his mother and two younger sisters.

Wild Coney & Grill has two Downriver locations: 18737 West Rd., Woodhaven; 15099 Northline Rd., Southgate.

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