Dawson’s Dogs, Cabin Fever among Fort Wayne’s newest coney restaurants

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Clint Davis serves a customer Jan. 5 at the newly opened Dawson’s Dogs, 3213 St. Joe Center Road, in Riviera Plaza in Fort Wayne. The name comes from the family that had a root beer stand on the south side of town. LISA ESQUIVEL LONG

By Lisa Esquivel Long
llong@kpcmedia.com

FORT WAYNE — A familiar name in Fort Wayne coney history has returned.

Brothers Clint and Chance Davis opened Dawson’s Dogs on Jan. 4 at 3213 St. Joe Center Road in Riviera Plaza. Their parents owned Dawson’s Famous Coney Dogs on Lima Road at Dupont Road for 10 years before they closed it five years ago.

The Dawson name holds special meaning among Fort Wayne coney fans who fondly remember the root beer stand that stood at East Rudisill and South Anthony boulevards.

Clint Davis said his parents bought the recipe from the Dawson family.

“We got it back to the original flavor,” which he describes as full of spices and a bit smoky.

They planned to donate the first day’s receipts of about $881 to the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission as a way of giving back to the community.

The first few days were cash-only sales as the Davises waited for credit card-processing equipment to arrive.

Clint, a 2011 North Side High School graduate, and Chance, who graduated last year from Northrop, are working with their dad inside the hut in the parking lot.

They have a drive-through and walk-up window where hungry customers can order from the menu board that includes the Awesome Dog, made with coney sauce, barbecue pork and onions; and a Chicago dog made with a Vienna beef dog from Chicago with mustard, relish, onion, celery salt, sport peppers and pickle spear on a poppyseed bun.

Come spring they’ll add picnic tables so customers can stay and eat and in summer they might add milkshakes to the menu, Clint Davis said.

For now they’re open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, but they eventually want to catch the after-bar crowd, so they’ll reopen 1-3:30 a.m. They’ll add sliders and tacos then.

Cabin Fever Coneys & Ice Cream

Linda Neuhaus regularly stops at a fast-food restaurant on Goshen Avenue and one day she was parked as usual in a vacant lot across the road to eat her food when she noticed the property was for sale. She called her daughter to come look, and a joint venture resulted.

Her daughter Kristy Campbell works at nearby Keystone Realty and knows the area well. The women live in the 46808 ZIP code.

“She was looking at all the traffic going by,” Campbell said of her mom.

Neuhaus asked Campbell what she thought of a coney place there.

“I said, ‘OK. Then she points to her and me,” Campbell said.

The property was owned by Tim Allen of Big-Eyed Fish, and Neuhaus had worked with his business partner for several years. With the nearby Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and the proximity to downtown, Campbell got on board and they opened Dec. 3.

Cabin Fever Coneys, 930 Goshen Ave., has a very rustic feel, as well as ice cream. LISA ESQUIVEL LONG

Their Cabin Fever Coneys are served from a little cabin created by C3 Construction Services to give it a “fun, family-oriented” feel, Campbell said. Knot Just Decks created a wagon-wheel fence.

In addition to their coneys, the menu includes a coney casserole with chili baked with cheddar cheese and crunch corn chips, which can serve two. Their chili has been a hit, Campbell said. They also have pulled pork and sloppy joe sandwiches.

Then, there’s dessert.

“What goes better with coneys than ice cream,” Campbell thought as her mother was creating the menu.

In response to requests, they’re now operating later hours for the winter: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

In the summer they’d like to put up a pergola or a deck with picnic tables.

Covington Coneys

The building next to the parking lot where Covington Coneys was has been demolished, but the trailer has safely relocated to West Main and Mechanic streets. The business had been for sale for some time. The property it’s now on has been cleared of trees and is owned by Mark Nei of the nearby Redwood Inn.

Covington Coneys trailer has been moved from Jefferson Boulevard to Main Street. LISA ESQUIVEL LONG

What will become of Covington Coneys isn’t clear yet.

This article originally appeared in our sister publication, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly.