By Lenn Robbins
What happens when a dream dies?
If you’re Michael and Joe Quinn you bring it back to life.
The Quinn brothers – Michael, Jimmy and Joe – were going to start their own company. It really didn’t matter what business they went into as long as they were together. They were always together, always wanted to be together. Until they weren’t. Until September 11, 2001, when Jimmy was in the North Tower, working for Cantor Fitzgerald, when the terrorists struck.
“It’s crazy, we always said Jimmy lived like he knew his life was going to be short,” said Joe. “He was always doing something. And it usually had to do with the Mets. Joe and I loved the Mets. But Jimmy lived for the Mets.”
Michael, 45, and Joe, 40, weren’t about to let their family dream not come to fruition. Every year they purchase a section-worth of seats at Shea Stadium, and now Citi Field. The Quinn Family and friends don Jimmy Quinn Memorial T-Shirts and bathe in the warmth of family and friends. For a few hours, Jimmy is with them.
“They never found his body,” said Joe. “For us, it’s a day to remember.”
“We would to go to games, the National Anthem would be playing and Jimmy would turn to me, tears in his eyes, and say, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Michael.
The Mets haven’t had many great seasons of late but that didn’t stop Michael and Joe from going to games. They were sitting in the stands five years ago watching the Mets get pummeled and decided to head to McSorley’s Ale House to wash their Mets sorrow in beers.
The conversation, of course, turned to Jimmy, who would have been 42 this November. They reminisced about growing up in Brooklyn, playing ball, eating hot dogs and hitting the Coney Island boardwalk.
That dream about the brothers owning a business was rekindled. Michael is a Coney Island historian. He knew that before there was Nathan’s Famous there was Feltman’s of Coney Island, founded in 1871. Nathan Handwerker, who worked for Charles Feltman, went out on his own, setting up shop just down the street and charging 5 cents a red hot. Feltman charged 10 cents. By 1953 Feltman’s was out of business.
If ever a hot dog and beer went together, it did that night at McSorley’s. The Quinns grew up in Brooklyn. Feltman’s was in Brooklyn, once a 10,000-square foot restaurant, the largest in the world at the time. Michael and Joe decided to give it a go. Feltman’s hot dogs is now sold in thousands of supermarkets across the country.
The pandemic actually has a been a boon for the business. As restaurants have been closed or, opened with restricted seating, more families are cooking at home. Of course, the question the Quinns get asked a lot is “When will they bring back a restaurant?” For now, they have other thoughts.
“The best way to honor Jimmy would be to bring Feltman’s into Citi Field,” said Michael.
That’s a big dream. As the history with Feltman’s and Nathan’s tells us, the frankfurter business can be a dog eat dog world. Nathan’s currently is the official hot dog of Citi Field. Wouldn’t it be ironic if one day, Feltman’s gives Nathan’s the boot?
“We’d give out Jimmy Quinn T-shirts to every fan,” said Joe. “Imagine 40,000 fans wearing Jimmy Quinn T-shirts in the Mets blue and orange colors. That would bring tears to my eyes.”
Jimmy knows that feeling.