Lafayette Coney Island regulars welcome back

Lafayette Coney Island reopened Saturday after being closed by the Health Department more than five weeks ago. The Detroit Health Department confirmed the restaurant passed the test on Friday.

The Detroit establishment closed on Sept. 7 after the city’s health department received numerous reports of rodents running around the restaurant.

Manager and chef Ali Alhalmi said the rats entered the restaurant from a nearby garden through holes that have since been smoothed over. They hired professional cleaners in addition to fixing broken tiles and holes where rodents could get in.

“Everything is done according to code … in two weeks I see nothing. No cockroaches and no rats,” Alhalmi said. “Now, we’re going to keep it clean, keep everything up to code and keep everything fresh, update and that’s it. We’ll start from there.”

Balsamo, left, enjoys his canine dogs with his brother Michael Balsamo at Lafayette Coney Island as the restaurant reopens for business on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

Erica Deleon stopped by her mother and brother Saturday afternoon after spending the day downtown. Deleon said he hopes this could be a new beginning for the business.

“If anything, I felt like it was better now because, you know, the observers were here,” Deleon said. “It kind of gave them a chance to rebuild and redeem themselves, so we definitely wanted to give it a chance.”

Alhalmi said he’s excited to reopen, and he’s seen many regular customers return on the first day.

Ali Alhalmi, manager of Lafayette Coney Island, dries and cleans the front windows of Lafayette Coney Island as it reopens for business in Detroit.  Saturday, October 15, 2022.

A couple, Gordon and Mary Jo Snavely, have been coming to Lafayette Coney Island from Lake Orchard for 45 years and said they won’t miss its reopening. They go there every year for Gordon’s birthday and it’s his favorite restaurant.

“It’s just, I mean, it’s the best,” Gordon, 80, said. “I think it’s a wonderful place, it’s a tradition.”

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