Photo of Nathan's Hot Dog's at the original site at Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, 1947.
Nathan's began as a nickel hot dog stand in Coney Island in 1916 and bears the name of co-founder Nathan Handwerker (June 14, 1892 – March 24, 1974), who started the business with his wife, Ida Handwerker, née Greenwald. Ida created the hot dog recipe they used, and Ida's grandmother created the secret spice recipe.
Jewish immigrant Handwerker arrived in New York City in 1912 and soon found work at the Coney Island, Brooklyn, restaurant Feltman's German Gardens. By one account, he was encouraged by singing waiters Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante to go into business in competition with Feltman's; as United Press International noted in 1974, "There are many stories about Nathan and how the business began, but this is the way he told it..." The company's official history does not mention the future stars' encouragement. Nathan and Ida spent their life savings of $300 (worth about $7,000 as of May 2018, accounting for inflation) to begin the business. (Wikipedia).