Feb. 18 2015 12:00 AM
Just to be clear: There’s nobody named Dan behind the scenes at Dan’s Coney Island — at least not now. The fledgling diner on Lansing’s south side may coincidentally hire an eponymous member to its crew someday, but no Dan yet.

Instead, owner/ operator John Gjidoda came up with the name by taking the first initial from each of his three kids. Given that those three letters could have also formed an acronym for the molecule that carries the genetic instructions for life, a conjunction or a slang nickname for a very sensitive body part, “Dan” seems like a fine choice.

Gjidoda (pronounced “jee-DOE-dah”) opened Dan’s Coney Island last month in the former site of Grumpy’s Diner, which closed early last year. The building had been empty during the interim, and when Gjidoda took over he revamped the interior. He installed new kitchen equipment, ripped out the carpeting and laid down new tile, put in new bathrooms and gave both inside and outside a fresh coat of paint.

Gjidoda got his start in the restaurant business 21 years ago. He opened Hannah’s Koney Island in Hannah Plaza with his former business partner, Anton Prenaj. Gjidoda left the partnership seven years ago to work for his brother at T&D Coney Grill in Okemos. Prenaj, meanwhile, went on to open Athenas Diner last year after selling Hannah’s Koney Island in 2013. (Hannah’s Koney Island, under new owner Bryan Van Curen, recently expanded its hours and launched a new dinner menu.)

“I missed owning a restaurant, so when this opportunity came up, I took it,” Gjidoda said. “And I’ve been able to do some new things with the menu that I wasn’t able to do before.”

Those new things include a roster of inventive deli sandwiches, burgers and dinners. The produce and meats are driven up from Eastern Market in Detroit, and all sauces, soups and gravies — including the sausage gravy, which is used on the biscuits and gravy dish that Gjidoda claims is the diner’s biggest seller — come from family recipes.

“The Super Meat Cheese Burger is the biggest burger I’ve ever had on a menu,” Gjidoda said. “It’s got ham, bacon, an egg, two patties — I

thought it might be too big when I made it, but people love it. It’s our most popular burger. It’s a lot of meat.”

Bigger Meat

And speaking of a lot of meat — or rather, a lot of Meat — last week Meat Southern B.B.Q. and Carnivore Cuisine opened its new 1,700-squarefoot dining room. That expansion more than triples the footprint of the thriving Old Town restaurant. The expansion comes with a new menu, extended hours and the addition of a full bar.

“We just got busier than I thought we ever would,” owner/operator Sean Johnson said.

Dan’s Coney Island
5600 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday- Saturday; 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday (517) 763-2720, dansconeyisland.com

Meat Southern B.B.Q. and Carnivore Cuisine
224 Turner St., Lansing 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday- Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-7 p.m. Sunday (517) 580-4400, meatbbq.com