Red Hots Coney Island in Highland Park closes after 100 years in business

HIGHLAND PARK, Michigan. – Red Hots Coney Island survived the Great Depression, a World War and the closure of the Ford plant in Highland Park, but now it is closing.

The Red Hots near Woodward Avenue and Davison Freeway were unable to survive the COVID pandemic. Generations of the Harlan family have ruled Coney Island, and their regular customers have grown into more than just customers.

The owners, Rich and Carole Harlan, said people will be coming in with strangers and going out with families. For a century, the company has served companion dogs and chili.

“Original recipe since 1921. Rich still makes it home,” said Carole Harlan.

Rich Harlan’s great-uncle Tom started the family business shortly after WWI. Rich Harlan started working there in the 1960s as a dishwasher.

“When I started here, there weren’t any women working here, they were just men,” said Rich Harlan. “The place was half the size it is now.

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Back then, the restaurant was open 24/7 and didn’t need to lock the doors. Most of their regulars worked at the Ford plant, which was half a block away.

In 100 years of existence, the restaurant has closed only once. During the COVID pandemic. They offered take out and even started delivering frozen blocks of their famous chili. But the Highland Park monument is in the process of closing.

For their next chapter, Rich Harlan and his daughter, Christina, will be selling their Red Hots Chili Sauce to restaurants and grocery stores.

Hots will close at the end of July. They are having a 100th anniversary party on June 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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