Original Okie: Jim Economou

by Michael Cooper


The first thing I noticed about Jim Economou is, at the ripe young age of 80, how much energy he has. I spent a couple of days trying to get in touch with him directly because he always seems to be on the run–and yet, he still is a clearly devoted family man. I ought to know; he was eager to put me on the phone with his grandson (a current writer for National Lampoon, by the way) whom I attended high school with.

Economou’s father, Christ, brought Coney Island to downtown Tulsa in 1926 and his business has not only endured since, but has become one of downtown’s true treasures. Just one look at restaurant reviews on the internet for Coney Island and you’ll see passionate comments from people who have been raised on them. Jim himself has been with the restaurant through all of its incarnations since the age of nine and finally took over the reigns from his father in 1973. Today the downtown Coney Island stands only a block away from it’s original location.

Economou is pictured in the dining room of Coney Island, sitting in an area of public school chairs that have remained with the business since the beginning.

True Tulsa is a weekly project that highlights the people and places that make our city great.