Nathan's Famous

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Nathan's Famous, Inc.
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1916 (99 years ago) (1916) in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
Founder Nathan Handwerker
Ida Handwerker
Headquarters Jericho, New York, United States
Key people
Howard M. Lorber
(Executive Chairman)
Eric Gatoff
(Chief Executive Officer)
Wayne Norbitz
(President and Chief Operating Officer)
Products Hot dogs

Nathan's Famous, Inc. is an American company that operates a chain of fast food restaurants specializing in hot dogs.

The original Nathan's restaurant stands at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in the Coney Island neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York.

The company's headquarters are in Wing A of the second floor of One Jericho Plaza in Jericho, New York, part of Oyster Bay, New York.[1]


Crowds in 1947

Nathan's began as a nickel hot dog stand in Coney Island in 1916 and bears the name of co-founder Nathan Handwerker (June 14, 1892 – March 24, 1974),[2][3] who started the business with his wife, Ida Handwerker, née Ida Greenwald.[3][4][5] Ida created the hot dog recipe they used, and Ida's grandmother created the secret spice recipe.[4]

Jewish immigrant Handwerker arrived in New York City in 1912[3] and soon found work at the Coney Island, Brooklyn, restaurant Feltman's German Gardens.[6] By one account, he was encouraged by singing waiters Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante to go into business in competition with Feltman's; as United Press International noted in 1974, "There are many stories about Nathan and how the business began, but this is the way he told it..."[6] The company's official history does not mention the future stars' encouragement.[4] Nathan and Ida spent their life savings of $300 to begin the business.[3]

Handwerker undercut Feltman's by charging five cents for a hot dog when his former employer was charging 10 cents.[6] At a time when food regulation was in its infancy and the pedigree of the hot dog particularly suspect, Handwerker ensured that men wearing surgeon's smocks were seen eating at his stand to reassure potential customers.[7] The business proved immensely popular.[8]

The expansion of the chain was overseen by Nathan Handwerker's son, Murray Handwerker.[5][9] A second branch on Long Beach Road in Oceanside, New York, opened in 1959, and another debuted in Yonkers, New York, in 1965. Murray Handwerker was named the president of Nathan's Famous in 1968,[9] the year the company went public.[5]

Nathan's original Coney Island location

All locations were sold by the Handwerker family to a group of private investors in 1987,[9] at which point Nathan's was franchised and a great number of establishments were opened around New York City and beyond.

In the 1990s, the company acquired Kenny Rogers Roasters and Miami Subs Grill, both of which were later divested.

As of September 2001, the company consisted of 24 company-owned units, 380 franchised or licensed units and more than 1,400 stores in 50 states, Guam, the District of Columbia and 17 foreign countries. One unit was lost due to the collapse of Two World Trade Center from the September 11, 2001, attacks.

International master franchise agreements were signed (circa 2006) with Egypt and Israel.[10] The company also owns the exclusive co-branding rights to the Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips chain.

Original location[edit]

As of 2015, the original Nathan's exists on the same site as in 1916. Having been open for business every day, 365 days a year, the stand was forced to close on October 29, 2012, due to Hurricane Sandy.[11] Despite a small fire on May 4, 2013, the stand reopened later that month.[12] Service is provided year-round inside, and during the summer additional walk-up windows are opened to serve the larger seasonal crowds.

Hot dog eating contest[edit]

The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest has been held at the original location on Coney Island since the early 1970s.[13] Contestants try to consume as many hot dogs as possible in a ten-minute time period. The Nathan's event is at the center of the competitive eating circuit. Recent winners include Takeru Kobayashi (2001–2006).[citation needed]. And Joseph "Jaws" Christian Chestnut (2008–2014) in July 2008, Chestnut tied Takeru Kobayashi in the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Contest after eating 59 HDB in 10 minutes. The tie resulted in a 5-hotdog eat-off, which Chestnut won by consuming all 5 hot dogs before Kobayashi. (chestnut was beaten by Matt "Megatoad" Stonie in 2015). After Kobayashi left Nathan's, the hot dog contest was down year-to-year. With an average 0.7 HH U.S. rating, it was off just a tenth of a point from 2012, when it aired on ESPN. ESPN averaged 1.949 million viewers for 2011's Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, but went down 41 percent to 1.15 million viewers in 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Contact Us". Nathan's Famous. Retrieved December 17, 2011. "Nathan's Famous Executive Offices One Jericho Plaza Second Floor – Wing A Jericho, New York 11753".
  2. ^ Nathan Handwerker at the United States Social Security Death Index via Retrieved on July 24, 2015
  3. ^ a b c d "Handwerker of Nathan's Famous Dies; Turned His Coney Island Hot Dogs Into Food Sought Worldwide". The New York Times. May 25, 1974. Retrieved July 24, 2014.  Abstract of subscription article.
  4. ^ a b c "Nathan's Famous History". Nation's Famous official website. Archived from the original on July 7, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Abelson, Reed (May 15, 2011). "Murray Handwerker, 89, Dies; Made Nathan's More Famous". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "Inventor of Coney Islands Cut Hot Dogs to Five Cent". The Daily Sentinel (Pomeroy-Middleport, Ohio). United Press International. March 25, 1974. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  7. ^ Jakle, John A.; Sculle, Keith A. (1999). Fast Food – Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 163–164. ISBN 978-0-801-86109-3. 
  8. ^ Sokolow, Diane. "Nathan's". One for the Table. 
  9. ^ a b c Staff (May 22, 2011). "Passings: Murray Handwerker". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 21, 2015. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  10. ^ [dead link] "Inside Nathan's – Corporate Profile". Retrieved August 10, 2006 Archived August 9, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Pruitt, Sarah (December 4, 2012). "Historic Hot Dog Stand Shuts Its Doors for the First Time". History. Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  12. ^ Weichselbaum, Simone (May 21, 2013). "Nathan’s Famous, Destroyed During Sandy, Reopens with Hot Dogs, Fries and a New Clam Bar – Coney Island Is Bouncing Back – Grand Re-Opening Is Thursday". Daily News. New York City. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Roberts, Sam (August 18, 2010). "No, He Did Not Invent the Publicity Stunt". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°34′31″N 73°58′53″W / 40.57528°N 73.98139°W / 40.57528; -73.98139