Our Summer Symposium kicks off in Richmond, Virginia, on June 20, and we'd like to introduce you to some of the wonderful people we'll celebrate over the course of the weekend. Since our new website isn't ready to show off just yet, we're sharing the interviews from our latest oral history project here. Every day leading up to the Summer Symposium, we'll feature two more stories from Women at Work in RVA.
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"It was almost like a shock. But little bit at a time, you go to the grocery store and you buy ingredients, and you make the dishes that you left behind. And then, slowly, you get into the habit of eating food from another culture." -Stella Dikos
STELLA DIKOS & KATRINA GIAVOS
In the 1950s, at the age of 19, Stella Dikos arrived in Richmond from Greece via an arranged marriage. Her husband Starvos Dikos opened The Village, a local institution near what was then the Richmond Professional Institute, now known as Virginia Commonwealth University. Stella learned how to make dishes her customers loved and, in return, she introduced them to the dishes she left behind in Greece. In 1983, Stella convinced Starvos to open her namesake restaurant on Harrison Street and Grace Streets. After closing and re-opening another Stella’s on Main Street, she closed once more. Richmonders continued to ask her when they could eat with her again. In 2011, six months after Starvos passed away, Stella's opened a third time on Lafayette Street. Stella is known in Richmond as a culinary legacy, a woman who worked day and night to put the American dream into motion. She paved the way for her daughter, Katrina Giavos, who, along with her husband and business partner Johnny Giavos, has opened 13 other restaurants around Richmond.
"I try to make sure that [the staff] is happy, and I want things to be fair, you know...because I was on the other end. I’m not just the manager and owner. I wait tables and bartend here also."
Baltimore native Tiffany Gellner was in high school when she moved to Virginia Beach with her mother, Melanie Palma. Melanie was artistically inclined but worked as a waitress and bartender at a place called San Antonio Sam’s to support their small family. Tiffany began her long restaurant career as a hostess there, working alongside her mother, but moved to Richmond at the age of 22 with the intention of attending art school. Instead, she spent the next decade waiting tables and tending bar in several Richmond restaurants including Amici's, Bandito's, and Star-lite. After marrying Owen Lane, who spent close to a decade cooking in Richmond restaurants, the couple took the leap to start a place of their own. Tiffany and Owen opened the Magpie in 2011. Situated in the historic industrial Carver neighborhood, the restaurant seats only 34 people including the bar. While Owen takes care of the food, Tiffany wears multiple hats in the front of the house: manager, server, and bartender.