From the department of “so much great food, so little time”…
We can’t wait to try Stellas in Richmond Virginia.
By Tanya Cauthen
Richmond culinary legend is far from retired.
To anyone who has met her, she is simply Stella. During her 40-plus years in Richmond, Stella Dikos has become a culinary icon, whether she was at The Village, Joe’s Inn, the eponymously named Stella’s, or her daughter and son-in-law’s restaurants — Sidewalk Cafè and 3 Monkeys, to name a few.
Born in German-occupied Greece in 1942, Stella was 4 when her mother died, and her father was a hard-working tailor. “He pushed me; he expected so much of me. I think that’s why I work so hard,” she says, before adding, “We weren’t rich.”
When presented with a marriage proposal by Stavros Dikos — a young man from a neighboring village who had gone to America to create his future — Stella saw new possibilities for her life. She came to the United States on May 10, 1962, joining Stavros at his restaurant, The Village. Stella learned the business by doing a little bit of everything and realized she had found her calling. “I discovered I loved people and they loved me,” she says, beaming. She and her husband worked hard and started a family — they had a daughter, Katrina, and a son, Demietri.
The Dikoses sold The Village in 1980 and helped expand Joe’s Inn, owned and run by Stella’s brother, Nick Kafantaris. Eventually it was time for something new, so in 1983 they opened Stella’s on Harrison Street. In 1995, the Dikoses closed Stella’s. “It was time,” Stella says. She focused on her family and young grandchild.
But within two years, Stella’s was reborn at a new Main Street location — as a partnership between Stella and her daughter. The restaurant had a nice run until 2005, when, in a seemingly sudden move, Stella’s closed again. “My husband was ailing,” Stella explains. “I needed to take care of him.”
Of course, Stella hasn’t stopped cooking. She can still be found most mornings prepping food at 3 Monkeys, which is owned by Katrina and Stella’s son-in-law Johnny Giavos. “I need to feed people,” Stella says, smiling. “It’s what makes me happy.”