New name, same taste for Coneys

Adam Griffiths

Once an icon of Kent, a familiar red and brown building on Main Street recently received a facelift. New paint. New sign. New name.

Main Street Coneys is now Main Street Continental Grill.

But is anything different?

“Main Street Coneys is not leaving,” said Michael Awad, general manager at the restaurant. “The name’s changing. The recipes, the dogs are staying the same.”

Awad moved here from Washington, D.C., where he operated a chain of restaurants with similar Mediterranean and vegetarian offerings. He’s excited about moving to a new location.

“I wanted it to be for students,” he said. “We’re famous for our Philly cheesesteaks and our filafel sandwiches in the D.C. area, and we’re hoping to bring that to the Kent area.”

The initial plan was to open a New York-style Coney restaurant in Northeast Ohio. After taking a new direction of offering a Mediterranean menu and talking with the owners of Main Street Coneys who were looking to sell the restaurant, Awad said they reached a medium

“We spent time in the store, saw the loyalty of the customers,” he said. “We’re not changing one thing, just adding more stuff to the menu — adding some more home cooked food.”

Most of the staff has stayed on under the new ownership, a testament to the persevering spirit of Main Street Coneys. Even the previous owners are still on-board.

Aaron Painter, a manager who’s been at the restaurant for almost three years, said he embraces the restaurant’s new direction. He said customer reactions have been divided, and people should give the new menu a chance.

“I’m sad that they’re mad about it,” Painter said. “It’s not just a name change. There’s a lot more to it then that.”

Longer hours and delivery are two new offerings, in addition to the expanded menu, that Awad hopes will draw in more college students. He described the atmosphere as comfortable and family-friendly.

A grand opening is being planned around Kent State students’ return next month, Awad said. Painter said both students and community members should come out and see Main Street Continental Grill.

“There’s not much variety in this area for food,” Painter said. “It’s a great new option for everyone.”

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Adam Griffiths at [email protected].