Dexter's Coney Island Opens in Former Lighthouse Restaurant

The new restaurant will replace Loreen's Village Cafe, and will include Greek and American food on the menu.

Downtown Dexter will have a new restaurant to add to its growing list of eateries with the opening of Dexter's Coney Island this month.

The restaurant, which occupies the space formally known as , opened its doors on Sept. 1.

Owner Jim Cacini of South Lyon purchased the property from Loreen McCalla earlier this summer and plans to add his unique take on Greek and American cuisine to the restaurant's menu.

"I had no idea it was up for sale," Cacini said. "I just happened to be driving through Dexter on my way to Ann Arbor one day and I fell in love with the community."

Cacini said before purchasing the restaurant, he and his son Jim, a part-time firefighter for Salem Township, considered opening a business in Ann Arbor to help supplement Jim's income.

"We met with the owners of Loreen's and decided that it was too good to pass up in Dexter," he said.

Cacini has owned and operated restaurants throughout Southeast Michigan since 1976, most recently in Dearborn, Howell, and Livonia.

While plans are already underway to improve the restaurant's menu — including the addition of Greek salads, gyros, and daily homemade specials — Cacini said he has no plans to change the building's interior decor.

"It's going to stay the way it looks," he said. "I've heard that some people complain about the overtly patriotic theme, but I have three kids and I know you can't please everyone."

The staff, for the most part, has also remained the same.

One new addition includes plans to extend the restaurant's hours to accommodate evening traffic. Dexter's Coney Island will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

"The hours may change depending on the customers," Cacini said. "After a few months, we'll start asking around to see if its worth staying open later."

Since taking ownership of the building, Cacini said he has had a steady flow of customers despite a recent notice from the village to remove his flashing neon "open" sign and neon trim around the windows.

"It's not like I'm a Vegas casino," he said. "Removing my sign will hurt business."

Allison Bishop, community development director, said the restaurant's sign is in violation of the village's sign ordinance, which does not permit "blinking, flashing, or fluttering lights ... which have a changing light intensity." Signs with flashing, intermittent or moving lights and revolving parts are also prohibited.

Bishop said Cacini is allowed to keep his sign as long as its in compliance with the ordinance.

"Our ordinance is aimed at equity for all of our businesses," she said.

Cacini said he has removed the neon trim, but plans to appeal the violation to the village council.

"The sign is inside my business. I don't understand why I'm being told to take it down," he said.

Dexter's Coney Island is located at 8124 Main St. in Dexter.

Janice Mace September 12, 2012 at 03:42 PM
The patriotic things are still there and should not offend you. The T shirts and cups and stickers are gone. That is what some people had a problem with. NOTHING WRONG WITH THE SUPPORTING THE USA.
Silly Head September 12, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Agreed, in every aspect. Well stated.
Dextermom September 12, 2012 at 08:08 PM
It's all about the food---we need some better places to dine in Dexter. Red Brick is great. 2 coney's and endless pizza, yuck! Would love a better Thai or Chinese choice!
Daniel Lai September 13, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I was in there today. A lot of the interior decor has been taken down.
Sean September 13, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Thank goodness the owner relented to a bunch of over-sensitive pansies. God forbid anyone stands up for what they believe in in what USED TO BE a nice little farming town. Now look what it's turning into. Sickening.
Shelly September 13, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Good to know. I will make sure to try the new place.
Rob D'Oria September 13, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Just got back from eating lunch there with the misses. We both had the gyro and baby Greek salad combo. The salad was anything but "baby" and very good. All and all very happy with the meal and service. Will definitely be back. Good Luck Jim!
Brian C. Shensky September 13, 2012 at 07:12 PM
It's a shame that Loreen's has left something of a legacy of apparent divisiveness among our community. We owe it to new owner Jim to judge the new Coney restaurant on its own merits. I encourage all of us to, I dunno, pretend the place was a general store, or dojo, or warehouse, or something else, if you found the old decor out of alignment with your own sensibilities. If people are opening businesses here, it's a testament to the value they place on our community.
Sean September 13, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I was being a little over-sarcastic. it just gets to me how people get so ofended by what not too long ago used to be standard morals that they have to post how they "will never be back", etc.
Shelly September 13, 2012 at 07:40 PM
What standard morals are you talking about? Racism? Bigotry? Yes, let's go back to segregation, and while you're at it, go ahead and make me property and take away my right to vote.
Rob D'Oria September 13, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Couldn't agree more! That said, it would be nice if those same sentiments (judging them on their own merits, value they place on...and investment they make in...our commuinity) would be afforded to the folks that are in the process of opening new pizzerias in the village. I can't speak for the folks behind B-line, but I can assure you we wouldn't be spending the money we are to open "another pizza place".
Marilyn Wilkie September 13, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Let's see...Coney Island on the east side of town, or Coney Island on the west side of town...or Pizza! Cottage Inn, Classic, Wings N Things, Jet's, Aubree's, Dexter's Pub .... must have missed a few...
TELLNOLIE September 13, 2012 at 11:45 PM
I think ya'll city people need to take your problems back to were you came from and good riddens!!!
Daniel Lai September 14, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Folks, try to refrain from personal attacks.
dexters September 14, 2012 at 01:19 AM
we at Dexter' s Coney Island would like to thank everyone for commenting on our new business we hope that we have found a new home here in Dexter that you will give us a chance to become a part of the community its a great town and we want to apologize about the hours for the time being we are open 7am-2pm we are hoping to stay open until 8 pm in the near future......Dexter' s coney island
Sean September 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Shelly, I think you mis-interpreted my post. I in no way endorse segregation or any of the other things you listed. I do however believe you should be required to speak the language of the country you're a citizen of. I'm not too old (35) and I've lived here from birth. It wasn't that long ago that everyone in town knew each other, all kids in the village walked to school, and we were all insulated from crime. I bought my house (in the village) in 2000 and the pld owner did not have a key for me. And I quote "I've never locked the doors, this is Dexter". That's what I was talking about. My words in the older post were , I guess, poorly chosen. Sorry.
mkS September 15, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Dear owner, If you "fell in love with the community" of Dexter, show it by not appealing to keep your neon sign. Trying to go against village ordinances when you are new in town will not help you win customers! Hope your new restaurant is a success!
Don Darnell September 16, 2012 at 02:37 PM
The neon made it look like a Vegas casino. Added to what is easily the hardest building to look at in Dexter, the total effect is not exactly appetizing. Prehaps the owner may recall what it was that he liked about Dexter in his first drive through. I wonder if he thought, "you know, what this small town needs is some garish neon - yea, that's the ticket." As to the interior, as a 16 year veteran, I felt "military theme" was pandering at best, and probably had an inappropriate agenda. Good to hear that most of that is probably gone.
Austin September 17, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Going to miss loreens and how she stood up for what she believed in, you dont see that much anymore.
Janice Mace September 17, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Me too.
Everywoman September 22, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Part One of my Comment: We walked into Loreen's with our three young children once. Then we walked directly back out. With two children who can read, we did not want to have to discuss the pro-gun, anti diversity propaganda with our children over lunch. I understand that folks hunt, but it was not that kind of gun toting that the t-shirts represented. It is hard enough to explain the buck-pole to a five year old who doesn't come from a hunting family. We eat meat, but I don't want to see a cow, chicken or pig hangin' by a noose downtown; call me squeamish. Also, I don't want to eat in a place where I have to explain to my children that some folks choose to discriminate against others & think its okay to do so. It’s not the crowd we hang with and its not how I choose to expose my children to hatred. I respect that is the right & choice of folks to choose to hunt and carry guns. I don't choose to have my children exposed to gun carrying other than in Safety Town. This is no different than folks who will not let their children attend a church, temple or mosque with a friend of a different religion. It is no different than not choosing to watch the opposite political parties National Convention. This is no different than choosing to hang out with like-minded political viewpoints & no different than choosing a name for my child that fits with my cultural beliefs.
Everywoman September 22, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Second Part of My Comments If you liked Loreenes, more power to you. Find other similar places to hang out with your group. I just think that Dexter is changing. In our family we believe it is headed in the right direction and that a multicultural, respectful-of-all community is a better place to live. I am not out there organizing protests against the Buck Pole nor Loreene's Restaurant. I walked on by without much of a thought after that first visit. I admit, I reroute my car in the beginning of deer season so I don't have to deal with the blood. I also don't watch horror movies; fancy that. I also want my children to grown up knowing that we are all created equally and it is what you choose to do with your life, including how you treat others, that matters. A wise person once told me, “You know your hanging with the right folks if you like who you are when you are with those people.” Well, I know I am with the right folks & I absolutely respect everyone's own choice to pick their own crowd. When my children are grown, statistics tell me one of my four will have values vastly different than my own. I am okay with that. I will still love them & still tell them what I think. That is the glory of living in a civil, respectful, multicultural society; we can all choose to live together in peace without name-calling & bigotry.
vg 550 October 16, 2012 at 03:35 PM
"Amen" to that :)
G.Ake November 02, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I agree. Loreens was a place where everyone was welcome and they did things to support the community and eachother. It had a homey feeling to it. The waitstaff was great too! Since it changed to Dexters Coney all the home town feeling is gone. The prices are very high for a Coney and the employees do not look happy. I have heard "Jim" (the new owner) speaking inappropriately to the staff in front of customers. I heard one of the regular customers comment that "it isn't fun here anymore"......... and whats with the greasy eggs that leave a bad after taste?! You don't need all that grease!
GAke December 18, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Well you can tell Jim whatever you want. He doesn't care about you or anyone else. He especially hates and women and tries to degrade them every chance he gets. He is not from this country and does not agree with the way "Americans" conduct themselves or the we do business. He will insist that in "his country" we don't have to do this or that! Blah Blah Blah!!! He can go back anytime! He treats people poorly, speaks inappropriately about customers and he is filthy..... Don't be surprised if you are dining in the vicinity of a cock roach!!! Good Luck!
Monica Cash February 13, 2013 at 01:33 PM
I used to eat there when it was Loreen's, it was a good place to eat. I gave this new restaurant the benefit of the doubt, and continued to order my favorite food to go(biscuits and gravy). The first few times it was good, then I ordered potatoes with it one day, and they were burnt, and I had to throw them away. I called to let them know that they were burnt. I recently ordered my favorite again, and when I opened the box the gravy was white like milk and runny. I could not eat my breakfast, and was at work so I called the restaurant the next morning...they put the owner on the phone, and he was extremely rude to me, he said that he knew that I was the one who complained about the potatoes, in case I thought he didn't know. He told me there was nothing wrong with the breakfast, it was me that was the problem! He also told me to come into the restaurant, order my favorite, and he would watch me eat it! I would advise anyone to keep going, and not to stop here. I will never frequent this place until it is sold to someone else! MC
steve March 17, 2013 at 05:46 AM
I am not a hunter, nor am I a gun lover. I dont think I should be nor would I want someone to tell me I cant be. If i dont like a restaurant, i dont go. Same applies to a grocery store, garage, dealership and any other venue. It is what makes america great not only does capitalism give the right to express yourself in any way imaginable, it gives others the choice to chose. So go to hell you rightous zeelots who feel they must chose for me as well as the liberals who feel they must protect me. I can think for myself, decide for myself and feel free in america to do for myself. I dont need either side to do it for me.
dexters March 22, 2013 at 02:35 AM
the staff at dexters coney island feel bad that you are unhappy with your service we tryed to correct your complants several times to your satisfaction sorry you remain unhappy with us..........
dexters April 27, 2013 at 01:15 AM
@gake i dont know who you are i have never spoken to you or anyone else about any women or my disrespect for them i work to hard to please my customers and to give them the kind of food they like i have no time for your nonsense i work 10hrs 7 days a week for my customers and i run a clean place anyone is more than welcome to look around ..... the only roach that has been in here is you.......
Pamela Herren September 05, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Dexter Coney Island is a joke. I worked there for 3 months and then my mother passed away in July and I went in 2 weeks later to get my pay and they said they didn't have enough money and to come back later. I went back a week later and then they told me they already paid me and then in the same breath said they have no records of me working. REALLY?? They offered their employees a free meal during their shift which I never took because I've seen how the food is handled, stored, etc. They smoke in the food area and never wash their hands. If the food is prepared wrong, its always the customers fault. Stay clear of the Dexter Coney Island.


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