NEWELL - In a region that relishes its hot dogs, Ray and Amanda Orin knew that opening a hot dog shop in Newell wouldn't be easy.
So they kept their expectations low, until opening day on March 9.
On that day, the owners of Coney Island Hot Dogs & Burgers, 217 Washington St., Newell, sold 400 hot dogs, 90 hamburgers and 200 pounds' worth of french fries, Ray Orin said.
SERVED UP NICE AND HOT — Ray and Amanda Orin opened Coney Island Hot Dogs & Burgers in Newell on March 9. -- Stephen Huba
"We didn't stop for a break the whole day. It was non-stop," he said.
By 5:30 p.m., a half-hour before closing, the new restaurant was sold out of food. Fortunately for the couple of 15 years, opening day was a Saturday.
"If it had been a weekday, we wouldn't have had anything to offer the next day. Maybe some ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise," Orin said with a smile.
Orin, 40, of Wellsville, said the support Coney Island has received in its first six weeks of business has been "humbling" and has "blown our expectations out of the water."
Business has been helped, Orin said, by the fortuitous start of a major expansion of the Ergon-West Virginia Inc. oil refinery just down the road, bringing in hundreds of hungry, out-of-town customers.
Speaking in a rapid-fire delivery that matches his love of a fast-paced business, Orin said he gave up a secure, well-paying career in auto and truck sales to start the new venture on Newell's main drag. He most recently was service manager at Hill International Trucks in Calcutta.
"My wife and I have been planning this for a year. We finally found a good location, and that's why we decided to locate here," he said. "We spent our life savings on the equipment, and took a big leap of faith. I just hope we get it back."
Orin said working at the Hot Dog Shoppe in downtown East Liverpool when he was 16 "planted a seed" that he might, one day, start his own business. While studying for a degree in business management at Ohio State University, Orin took culinary arts classes at Hocking Technical College (now Hocking College) in Nelsonville, Ohio.
That, and his love of cooking, kept the fire burning all those years when he was working for car and truck dealerships.
"The pay was great, but the hours - I was never home," Orin said.
The couple found out about the vacant, available building last year and began renovating it in October. It hasn't been easy making the transition from company man to self-made entrepreneur, but Orin said his business sense and his wife's cooking has gotten the small Newell concern off to a big start.
"We found out it's a lifestyle - not a job," he said. "We wanted to do something different, other than just your good old cheddar-chili dog."
A self-described hot dog connoisseur, Orin developed a menu that offers a few items - hot dogs, french fries, burgers - but in creative varieties. There's "Ray's Dog" (wrapped in bacon, deep fried, covered in cheddar and onions), "River Dog" (covered in chili sauce, cheddar and fries), "Chicago Dog," "Pittsburgh Dog," and "Junkyard Dog" (up to five toppings).
Hot dogs start at $1, burgers at $2.50 and fries at $2. The restaurant also offers onion rings, a grilled chicken sandwich, a garden salad and a grilled chicken salad.
Both the cheddar sauce and chili sauce at Coney Island are homemade, developed from recipes from Amanda Orin, 33. Burgers are made from fresh, not frozen, meat.
"The cheddar sauce is just something I came up with," she said. "The chili sauce I made a few years ago and used for picnics and other occasions."
Coney Island hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.
(Huba can be contacted at email@example.com)