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Steve Cahalan: Coney Island turns 100 this year

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The local Coney Island hot dog restaurant chain turns 100 this year, with its original restaurant in downtown La Crosse still temporarily closed because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It continues to operate its restaurants in the Village Shopping Center in La Crosse and near the Festival Foods store in Holmen.

As the Tribune reported last week, Friday was the last day for the Coney Island in the Valley View Mall food court. Coney Island had been a tenant in the La Crosse mall ever since the mall opened in 1980.

“It was numbers — we couldn’t come to an agreement” on terms for a new lease at the mall location, Chris Kapellas, whose family owns the small restaurant chain, told me Tuesday. Coney Island’s lease at the mall ends Jan. 31.

The original Coney Island at 114 S. Fourth St. in downtown La Crosse has been temporarily closed ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Kapellas said that’s because many people who were working in downtown offices now are working from home, which cut into the restaurant’s customer base. He had no prediction as to when the downtown restaurant might reopen.

Coney Island’s offices also are in the downtown building, where Kapellas’s grandfather, Jim Kapellas, and Tom Sideras opened the first Coney Island in 1922. The business is now entirely owned by members of the Kapellas family, which hasn’t decided how to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.

For more information about Coney Island, visit www.coneyislandhotdog.com or its Facebook page.


Look for the Pro Image Sports store in Valley View Mall to close soon.

After seeing a Facebook post by someone who said the store is closing, I stopped there last week and saw a banner that said everything is selling for half price in a “total inventory liquidation” with all sales final.

Store manager Ryan Stephenson told me that the store’s lease ends Jan. 31 and its owner doesn’t plan to sign a new lease because he wants to retire.

The franchised store opened in the mall in September 2016 and sells licensed sports apparel and accessories. Pro Image Sports began in 1985 in Salt Lake City and has stores nationwide.


The Ryan Sherry Agency of American Family Insurance moved effective Nov. 1 to 471 Second Ave. N. in Onalaska, near the Big Fish along Hwy. 35. Its previous location was 1062 Oak Forest Drive in Onalaska.

“We moved to this building because of its location,” Sherry said last week. “Every time I’d drive by, I thought it would be a great location for my office because of the traffic and uniqueness. We did a complete remodel of the building.” He plans to hold a grand opening celebration in the spring or early summer.

The agency offers auto, home, life, business, farm/ranch and other kinds of insurance. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and evenings and weekends by appointment.

The agency is headed by Sherry, who has been an insurance professional since 2005. For more information, call the agency at 608-779-4300 or visit www.ryansherryagency.com or Facebook.


Ritter’s Hardware is the new name of the former Johnson Hardware & Rental store at 19040 Dewey St. in Whitehall.

Andrew Ritter and his wife, Chris, bought the business from Glen and Kathy Johnson, who have retired, on Dec. 1. The Johnsons had purchased the store in 2010.

Andrew told me last week that he had worked at the store for about two years while he was in high school and had been working there again since January 2020. Chris had worked at the store for about three years, most recently since March.

“I’ve always loved working here,” Andrew said of the couple’s decision to buy the business. “And the store is so valuable for the Whitehall community. We needed to make sure it’s here and continues to do well.” He also likes the idea of the entire family working at the store once their children are old enough.

Andrew said he and his wife are doing some interior remodeling, which he hopes to complete in January. “We’re trying to gain some space for some of the new products we want to bring in,” he said of the remodeling. He hopes to have a grand opening celebration sometime in March.

Store hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call the store at 715-538-4616 or visit its Facebook page.

Steve Cahalan can be reached at stevecahalan.reporter@gmail.com.

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