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For Over 100 Years Koney King Has Ruled Gary, Indiana

2023-11-05 – BE&O SuSt

Sitting proudly in the Glen Park neighborhood in Gary, Indiana, is a world-famous restaurant with European roots that go back more than 100 years. 

When he first immigrated to America in 1914 from Rodina, Bulgaria, Mike Petroff took a job at a stone quarry in Gary, Indiana. A few years later, Petroff opened a restaurant that served carved ham, hamburgers, and lots of chili. Making its name with high quality and low prices, Koney King quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in Gary. 

Fast forward almost one hundred years, and after three generations of family ownership, Kony King was now under the ownership of Paul Kamanaroff, a descendent of Petroff.  

After 50 years of running Koney King, Kamanaroff announced he was ready to retire. After rebuffing the advances of a realtor to purchase the building, Kamanaroff sold the historic restaurant to his friend and barber, Hendricks.  

After spending the previous six years leasing the space next door to the restaurant for his Cut Time 1 barbershop, Hendricks, a Glen Park native, became the first Black owner of the world-famous eatery in 2018.

Recognizing Koney King’s role as one of the oldest restaurants in Gary, Hendricks says he wants to continue the tradition of using the restaurant to serve the community. Whether hiring from within the neighborhood or hosting back-to-school drives, the new owner wants the legacy of Koney King also to be one of service.  

Hendricks wants to grow the restaurant to thrive outside of Gary, Indiana. “Why not bring it to the masses?” he says. He says they frequently received requests from around the world from travelers seeking one more bite of their famous chili.   

Not wanting to mess with success, he says nothing about the recipe of their chili is different from the way it was made way back in 1920. “Everything is exactly the same.” You can grab a taste of the authentic all-meat sauce by visiting Koney King at 4601 Broadway in Gary, Indiana.