Coney Island Restaurant (“Happy Corner”)/Pierre & Andre’s Rib Room

John G. Poulos and his wife Helen opened the Coney Island Restaurant at 59 N. Howard Street in Akron sometime in the late 1920s. It was located at the corner of Howard and Federal, now Perkins. It is also listed at times at 57 N. Howard. Across the street was the Green Turtle Café, and a few doors away was the Mathews Hotel. John and Helen were both Greek immigrants who had been in Colorado before coming to Akron. John Poulos first appears in the 1926-27 Akron City Directory as living and operating a restaurant at 359 W. Bowery Street. He then appears in the 1931 Directory as living at 103 W. Market and operating a restaurant on North Howard Street. The restaurant first appears as the Coney Island Restaurant in the Akron City Directory in 1934 (there were four other restaurants with Coney Island in the name). John retired in 1956 and his son Andrew and son-in-law Peter Chakonas took over the business. (Peter married Lucile Poulos in 1943). The Coney Island also had a nickname, the “Happy Corner.” Andrew’s son, Kerry Poulos recalled that “approximately in 1947 the original building was replaced by a bigger building.” In addition, John G. built an auto service repair building when he put up the new building. Kerry remembered that Coney Island specialized in “chicken and rib dinners using a special sauce my grandfather developed. My father taught me to make the sauce when I was 12. I still make it today for family and friends. I’ve now taught my daughter and 5th generation granddaughter how to make it.” Andrew and Peter renamed it “Pierre & Andre’s Rib Room” in 1959.

Kerry remembered that “our main dishwasher, Curly, who lived at the Mathews taught me how to wash dishes and clean the kitchen.” Kerry “also worked with my brothers cleaning the whole facility on Friday and Saturday nights, the busiest nights of the week. We had a big bar area, dance floor and booths for dining. Weekend mornings I also had the job of picking up empty wine and liquor bottles from our parking lot.”

The Poulos’ and the Coney Island were a central part of life on N. Howard Street. “The businesses and neighbors on the street knew who my brothers and me were,” remembered Kerry, “since we were the 3rd generation. Our father was raised there too, and spent his adult life there.” Kerry and his brothers would run errands to many of the businesses in the area, including Horn Provision, the Portage Hotel, the Mathews Hotel, and the Green Turtle Cafe, suggesting how connected these various businesses were at the time. Kerry remembered many of the other businesses he would pass on his errands, including “the Tropicana, the Hi Hat, Benny Rivers, Cosmopolitan,” and other stores such as the “Salvation Army, beauty salons, barber shops, loan companies, a Greek coffee store, the Ritz Theater, and the fish market.”

Andy’s son, and Kerry’s brother, John Poulos, remembered his time there as well:

“As a young teenager in the 1950s and into the 1960s I was lucky enough to be part of the life on North Howard street in Akron Ohio. I say I was fortunate because I was old enough to help my father and grandfather in their restaurant/carryout business at the corner of N. Howard and Federal (later Perkins St). My grandfather, John Poulos (Panagopoulos) came from Greece and settled in Akron in the 1920s where he founded the Coney Island restaurant, also called the Happy Corner. My father, Andy Poulos, came into the business after graduating from the University of Akron in 1945. They served barbecued ribs and chicken cooked over an open fire and slathered in John’s famous hot sauce. As you can see in the picture of the Happy Corner, they provided soda pop, beer, spirits, candy and cigars as well as the ribs and chicken dinners.”

“I say I was lucky because I was able to experience the cosmopolitan life of N. Howard street, often referred to as “the Harlem of Akron”, before it was razed for urban renewal in the 1970s. This was an area of many Black businesses and culture. I say cosmopolitan because mixed into this area were a grocery store, a Greek coffee roasting shop, the Walsh cigar store, a butcher shop, clothing store, hair salon, pawn shop, and a barber shop. It was also the site of several bars and social clubs that provided entertainment to the life on the street. Some of these were the Green Turtle, the Cosmopolitan, the Hi Hat, Benny Rivers, and the Tropicana, and the Ritz Theater. Many entertainers came to perform at these venues and to enliven the life on Howard Street. The now-famous Mathews Hotel provided rooms and accommodations for Black visitors to our city, and for the performers and athletes that were in town. Our Coney Island was situated at the corner of N. Howard and Perkins streets. Across Perkins was the Green Turtle Cafe and bar. Just north of us was the Mathews Hotel. The Mathews abutted our property and parking lot. In fact, the Matthews Monument today is located in what was our Coney Island parking lot.”

“As teenagers I and my two brothers were often running errands at the Mathews, the Green Turtle, as well as many other businesses on the street. Each one of us became known as  “‘Lil Andy “, after our father, Andy Poulos. On weekends and sometimes after school we spent many hours washing dishes, mopping the floor, and anything else that needed done. One evening as I was washing glasses in the sink behind the bar, I looked up to see pro wrestler Mr. Bobo Brazil. I said hello Mr. Brazil. He smiled and offered his hand across the bar. A handshake I will remember. Originally called the Coney Island, and the Happy Corner, the name was changed to “Pierre and Andre’s” after our father Andy and our uncle Pete Chakonas in the 1960s. After several years it was it was lost to urban renewal and the Innerbelt “mistake.””

Pierre & Andre’s closed in 1968. The section of N. Howard Street where this and other businesses were was demolished with the construction of the Inner Belt.


  • Akron City Directory, 1926-27 – 1960.
  •, 1940 U.S. Census, Akron, Ohio.
  • “Camera Visits N. Howard Street,” Akron Beacon Journal, September 22, 1946.
  • John Poulos, email correspondence, 4/20/2024.
  • Kerry Poulos, email correspondence, 4/3/2024.
  • Ohio (Akron) Informer, June 25, 1955.
  • Ohio (Akron) Informer, January 10, 1959.
  • “Six Month Illness Fatal to J.G. Poulos,” Akron Beacon Journal, October 4, 1962.
59 N. Howard Street, approximate location before the Inner Belt construction.

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