Richmond remembers Stella Dikos, who fed generations at her family's beloved restaurants

Posted at 11:50 AM, Jun 29, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- Stella Dikos, whose Greek recipes and dishes nourished and delighted generations of Richmond restaurant diners, passed away Friday at age 82, her grandson Constantine Giavos shared.

"It is with profound sadness that we share the unexpected yet peaceful passing of our beloved Stella Dikos, the heart and soul of Stella’s. Her warmth, creativity, and passion for food have touched so many lives here in Richmond and beyond. Stella’s legacy lives on through the delicious recipes and the love she poured into every dish," he wrote in a social media post from the restaurant that bears her name.

Giavos said his grandmother "looked strong, dignified, and beautiful until her very last breath."

Stella Dikos
Stella Dikos

In the 1950s and 60s, Stella Dikos and her husband Stavros worked together at the original Village Cafe he opened in Richmond.

The first Stella’s restaurant opened nearby on Harrison Street in 1983.

Stella's moved to The Fan on Main Street in 1998 and later, in 2011, to its current West End location on Lafayette Street.

In addition to Stella's restaurant and multiple Stella's Grocery locations, her recipes and inspiration can be found at other Richmond restaurants with ties to her family such as Continental, Little Nickel, Sidewalk Cafe, Kuba Kuba, Galley, and Perly's.

"Stella was more than just a chef; she was a friend to all who walked through our doors, and a beloved sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother," the post continued. "Stella had a deep love for the arts, classical music, travel, and gardening. She embraced the beauty in all forms of creativity and expression, enriching the lives of those around her with her diverse interests and passions."

Constantine Giavos said his grandmother was cooking up until her passing and would still contribute her specialties like Almond Horns and seasonal bread for the restaurants and markets.

He shared a recent photo of Stella, his mother, and his daughter making Greek Easter bread.

Stella Dikos
Stella Dikos in the kitchen with her family

"Stella lived a very full life, experiencing the entire spectrum of emotions, from absolute tragedy to incredible triumph and joy," he wrote in a social media post about her passing. "She built an undeniable legacy, witnessed both of her grandchildren get married, and was a wonderful great-grandmother to two granddaughters with whom she spent an extraordinary amount of time. For that, I am grateful."

Robey Martin, who writes about Virginia restaurants for the Virginian-Pilot and Style Weekly and co-hosts the CBS 6 food podcast "Eat It, Virginia" said this was a huge loss for the Richmond dining community.

"It is immeasurable the impact she has had on the way Richmond views food, dining, and service. Stella was a force. I know no one who won’t feel her passing," Martin said.

Richmond Magazine Food Editor Eileen Mellon recalled an opportunity she had to shadow Stella in 2019.

"It was one of those beautiful, rewarding life experiences that I’ll cherish and carry with me for a lifetime. Stella was a source of light for those around her, resilient, humble, and kind. She made people feel seen, understood, and loved, the core of human existence," Mellon said. "And on top of that, [she] served up incredible Greek food. She was an icon, legend, and inspiration, and her impact on the community and Richmond culinary scene will be felt forever.”

Axios Richmond reporter and long-time Richmond food writer Karri Peifer called Stella the matriarch of Richmond’s food scene.

"In Richmond, food is never just about the food: it’s about community, family, and memories. No one embodied that better than Stella, especially through her namesake restaurant and markets, which now help define the local dining scene and neighborhoods. But it all started with one woman; it all started with Stella. And Richmond is a better place to live - and eat - because of her.”

We encourage you to email the CBS 6 Newsroom with your Stella memories and messages for her family.

Information on a memorial service will be announced at a later date.

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