Noshing In New Paltz

Photo By Samantha SchwartzThere are “thousands” of Coney Island-style restaurants in Nosh Margilaj’s home state of Michigan. One of them has come to New Paltz and caused a stir in just more than a month of operation.

Opening on April 2 at 62 Main St., Margilaj’s restaurant Noshi’s Coney Island quickly made a name for itself. Mainly serving hamburgers, hot dogs and milkshakes, the eatery was so popular in its first week that they quickly ran out of food after opening.

Margilaj, who also runs another shop in Poughkeepsie with his family, said he expected “a certain volume” of noise in New Paltz, but hadn’t expected it to be so popular on first opening.

“We were kind of shocked by the response we got from all of the students and locals around here who came during the opening week,” Margilaj said. “My milkshake machine burnt out after a few days and we just kept running out of stuff.”

Margilaj said his top three priorities in successful dining, “service, food and prices,” are more important than the stress a couple of snags in the road might create. Once the food started to dwindle down at the restaurant, he decided to close shop for a couple of days to restock, fix his equipment and get everything in order.

Margilaj said he isn’t the type to let stress get to him.

“Restaurants run out of food, machines break and it’s a business like anything else,” he said. “You just have to roll with the punches and just keep going at it. As long as the service is good and we treat the customers right and bring out quality food, everyone understands and comes back.”

Margilaj’s father owned two Coney Island restaurants in Michigan during the 1970s. Particularly in Detroit, Coney Islands are a type of restaurant that specializes in serving up Coney Dogs. Margilaj said Coney Island restaurants in Michigan are similar to New York diners, in that they serve hot dogs, burgers, breakfast and other diner fare.

In 2006, Margilaj’s father opened up the Noshi’s Coney Island in Poughkeepsie, where business has been “pretty good and steady” since its opening, Margilaj said. For the past four years, Margilaj said he had been looking to open a store in New Paltz, and would come to town frequently to look for vacancies.

“Every month for the last four years, I would come here and drive between P&G’s and Yanni’s just to see if anything was available, and if I saw anything I would take it,” he said. “When I saw the lights out in December, I found the landlord’s contact information and signed the lease right away.”

Once a month, Margilaj’s father drives to Michigan to pick up the hot dogs. Michigan is the most regulated state in terms of food products, so the hot dogs at Noshi’s have “no additives, less nitrates and less coloring than any other hot dog,” Margilaj said.

Although Noshi’s prides itself on its simplicity, the menu has a variety of gourmet hot dogs and hamburgers. While some like the Detroit dog and Chicago dog are popular in their respective cities, many of the dogs on the Noshi’s menu are created and named after their customers.

The Texas Bell — a deep fried dog stuffed with American Cheese, wrapped in bacon and drizzled with ranch dressing — was named after customer David Bell, who got the idea for the dog while in Texas. The KEG dog — topped with bacon, mayo, ketchup, grilled onions and peppers — is the joint idea of two customers, Craig and Kevin, thus the KEG dog.

Margilaj said he hopes to eventually expand the business and is looking to open a shop in Brooklyn in the future. For now, though, he said he is happy with how business in New Paltz is going and the vibe the restaurant has within a college town.

“I like to have a lot of young people. I like the older generation as well, but I like the place to have a good vibe,” he said. “We have good music playing late at night, we’ll throw on Biggie or Tupac and people go crazy and have fun. When the time calls for it, I like to have a bit of a party atmosphere in here.”