Springfield restaurant known for coney dogs closes

A long-time restaurant in Springfield known for their coney dogs has closed for multiple reasons including the coroanvirus pandemic.

Jim Lopez Jr., the owner of Big Jim’s Coney’s & Subs said the biggest reason for their closure was lack of help.

“It just seemed like people wouldn’t last and I couldn’t get people to even come in and want to work,” Lopez said.

Other factors that contributed to the restaurant’s closure was not being able to find needed items and his age, he said.

“I was planning on retiring in a year and a half anyway," Lopez said.

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Big Jim’s Coney’s & Subs, located on Mitchell Boulevard, was a part of Springfield for about 12 years.

Prior to the restaurant, Lopez said he owned “the first food wagon in Springfield" for 10 years on East Main Street. He also operated Jim’s To Go before the food wagon.

The restaurant business was very familiar to Lopez because his father, Jim Lopez Sr., operated several different ventures on the east side of Springfield for more than 40 years. He was known as the “The Mayor of Main Street."

Lopez said they came to Springfield in 1968 from San Diego to open a Taco Bell restaurant on East Main Street - the first franchise east of the Mississippi River. His father followed up that restaurant with several different Jim’s Coney Island locations and then Jim’s Pizza on Mitchell Boulevard.

Lopez told the News-Sun that his business had “never fallen off, but I physically, mentally couldn’t do it anymore."

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“Right now it’s hard for me to deal with it because I have been doing it for so long. I feel a little lost without it," he added.

Lopez said he appreciated his customers' passion for his food, their loyalty and all of the compliments they have given him over the years.

“I will miss them all," Lopez added.

Even though the restaurant is closed, there is still hope for the future.

Lopez said, “I keep telling people that I might open up another concession wagon.”