Nathan's Famous Logo
Nathan's began as a nickel hot dog stand in Coney Island in 1916 and bears the name of co-founder Nathan Handwerker who started the business with his wife, Ida Handwerker, née Ida Greenwald. Ida created the hot dog recipe they used, and Ida's grandmother created the secret spice recipe.
Handwerker,an employee of Feltman's German Gardens, was encouraged by singing waiters Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante to go into business in competition with his former employer. He and Ida spent their life savings of $300 to begin the business. Handwerker undercut Feltman's by charging five cents for a hot dog when his former employer was charging ten.
At a time when food regulation was in its infancy and the pedigree of the hot dog particularly suspect, Handwerker made sure that men wearing surgeon's smocks were seen eating at his stand to reassure potential customers. The business proved immensely popular.
The expansion of the chain was overseen by Nathan Handwerker's son, Murray Handwerker. A second branch on Long Beach Road in Oceanside, New York, opened in 1959, and another debuted in Yonkers in 1965. Murray Handwerker was named the President of Nathan's Famous in 1968. All were sold by the Handwerker family to a group of private investors in 1987, at which point Nathan's was franchised and a great number of establishments were opened around New York City and beyond. The company went public in 1993 and Bill Handwerker, the founder's grandson, left the company three years later.
The original Nathan's still exists on the same site that it did in 1916. Service is provided year-round inside, and during the summer additional walk-up windows are opened to serve the larger seasonal crowds.
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