February 2020: after 80 years DeStarrs has closed.
Original 2017 Post:
Keep your eyes peeled for the sign for DeStarr’s Restaurant and Bar on the 100 block of East Gay Street in West Chester or you may miss a “hidden in plain sight” Retro-Roadmap-worthy place in this hip and historic borough of brick.
Started in 1935 by George DeStarr (the Americanization of his Greek name, thanks to Ellis island) as the Gay Street Grill, current owner Bill “Vasilios” Stavropoulos is George’s nephew. Bill began working at his uncle’s eatery in 1951 after emigrating from Greece to the US in his teens.
Open for just breakfast and lunch, if you sit at one of the vintage cantilevered swivel stools at the counter you may be able to watch your meal be prepared on the grill in the window.
They serve more than just short-order grill fare – there are plenty of Greek specialties, home-made soups and roasted turkey “just like Thanksgiving” created in the kitchen in back. Folks rave about their homemade Greek yogurt, gyros and club sandwiches.
Speaking of out back – don’t forget to peek into the back bar area to see where the first liquor license granted in town after prohibition is still in use. Who am I to judge if you want a hair of the dog, or a quick nip at noon? 😉
If you’re truly inquisitive, ask Bill to see the murals of Greece painted on the walls in the large dining room adjacent to the luncheonette area.
In a college town with so many trendy options for artisanal sandwiches and fancy fare, I find it a comfort to have a simple sandwich and a cup of soup while sitting at the formica counter or in one of the tufted colonial-style booths.
He’s got plenty of stories to tell, so take some time and learn a little while you’re eating. This would never happen at a chain, so consider yourself lucky.