A restaurant dedicated to Hani sandwiches opened in Royal Oak

Pop’s Hani Shop promises an ‘elevated Hani experience’

May 11, 2023 at 9:45 am
click to enlarge Pop’s Hani Shop has built a menu focused on National Coney Island’s popular Hani sandwich. - Lee DeVito
Lee DeVito
Pop’s Hani Shop has built a menu focused on National Coney Island’s popular Hani sandwich.

In the 1980s, a cook named Hani at National Coney Island’s Seven Mile and Mack store whipped up an off-menu item that turned out to be a huge hit: a pita sandwich made with breaded chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and a special mayo sauce.

The result was the Hani sandwich, which has surged in popularity and now sells about on par with Detroit-style coney dogs, according to National Coney Island president Tom Giftos.

“Over the years, it’s kind of slowly evolved to almost go neck and neck with our coney dogs,” he says.

Now, National Coney Island has now opened its first spin-off restaurant with a menu focused on Hani sandwiches. Pop’s Hani Shop soft launched last month at 32538 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, and celebrates its official grand opening Thursday.

Giftos says its the local chain’s first spin-off concept, aside from a few experiments in express service locations, such as a short-lived one near Michigan State University’s campus.

He describes the idea between Pop’s Hani Shop as an “elevated Hani experience” with a limited menu and an emphasis on using local products and making items in-house.

“We’ve just kind of tried to elevate our game a little bit,” Goftos says. “We’re hand-rolling or pita bread and hand-dipping our chicken.” One of its partners is Grand Rapids-based Brix Soda Co., which uses natural cane sugar in its beverages.

click to enlarge Pop’s Hani Shop is located in the former Kalamata Greek Grill - Lee DeVito
Lee DeVito
Pop’s Hani Shop is located in the former Kalamata Greek Grill

Chicken is available either breaded or grilled, and a number of riffs of the classic sandwich appear on the menu, like a “Spicy Southwest” version with Chipotle Aioli and “The Parm,” an Italian-themed take with mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and house-made marinara sauce. The sandwiches sell for $9.75.

The menu also includes other Greek-American coney island favorites like coney dogs, burgers, and gyros, along with soups and salads.

Pop’s Hani Shop is located in the former Kalamata Greek Grill, which closed last year. Giftos says National Coney Island approached Kalamata about moving into the space.

There is no table service; diners order at a counter and the food is brought out to them. Pop is served from a fountain.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on restaurants these days to shrink their footprint and take some complexity out of the equation, take some labor out of the equation,” Giftos explains of the new format.

But ultimately, Giftos says, it’s a tribute to the Hani sandwich. If the concept is successful, the company could open more locations, he says.

“We’re relying on the fact that the sandwich is great,” he says. “We’ve been open for a few weeks now and seen many customers four or five times in the last three weeks, so that’s usually a good sign.”

Location Details

Pop’s Hani Shop

32538 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak Oakland County

popshanishop.com

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A new restaurant deficated to Hani sandwiches opened in Royal Oak.

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