Karen Levy Fogel was born in the mid-1940's to a family who owned and operated restaurants in New York City. Her father's family were Sephardic Jewish immigrants from Turkey and her mother's family were Ashkenazi Jews who also lived in Coney Island. Her father and grandfather owned Levy's Bar and Grill on Stillwell Avenue, downstairs in from Stauch's Baths from the 1930's through the 1960's. They ran the bar, but inside were food concessions run by other vendors. They also owned Levy's Famous on Essex at Delancey Street on the lower east side of Manhattan. Other family members owned various concessions under the boardwalk that they operated during the summer season.
Karen's family lived in the midst of a large Sephardic Jewish community in their home between Mermaid and Surf Ave on 21st Street. She remembers Coney Island as a safe and fun place to grow up. She used to visit Steeplechase Park for free using the passes her grandfather (on her mother's side) was given as a volunteer firefighter.