Stephen Starr

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Stephen Starr is an American restaurateur and former entertainment promoter based in Philadelphia. He owns the STARR Restaurants group which operates over thirty restaurants. Starr has been recognized for his work, and has received awards from the James Beard Foundation, among others.

Early life and education[edit]

Starr was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey, where he attended Gateway Regional High School.[1] He graduated from the School of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1976.[2]


Starr's first venue was the diner and comedy club "Grandmom Minnie's" located in Philadelphia's Old City.[3] On September 16, 1977,[4] Starr opened the cabaret "Stars" featuring emerging acts.[5] In March of 1981, Starr opened the concert venue and disco "Ripley Music Hall."[6] In February of 1984, Starr founded The Concert Company, which brought large-scale stadium acts to Philadelphia.[7] The Company was purchased by Electric Factory Concerts in 1990.[8] Stephen Starr then founded STARR Restaurants in 1995.[9] In September of 1995, Starr opened his first restaurant in Philadelphia, "Continental Restaurant & Martini Bar." [10]

As of 2018, there are twenty Starr Restaurants in Philadelphia; six in New York City; five in Florida; two in Atlantic City, New Jersey; one in Washington, D.C.; and one in Paris, France.[11]


Starr won the 2017 "Outstanding Restaurateur" James Beard Award; and his restaurant Le Coucou, with chef Daniel Rose, was named 2017 "Best New Restaurant" by the James Beard Foundation.[12] Starr has been named "Restaurateur of the Year" by both Bon Appétit and Zagat.[13][14] Travel + Leisure noted that "Starr creates complete environments with an artistic, almost cerebral approach."[15]

In 2017, the magazine Restaurant Hospitality placed Stephen Starr on their "RH 25" list of "The 25 most powerful multiconcept operators across the country."[16] Restaurant Hospitality also awarded Starr the annual Richard Melman Innovator of the Year award in 2013 and cited his restaurants in Philadelphia as "arguably the key reason for the city's revitalized culinary scene."[17] The Harvard Observer recognized Starr "for making contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of restaurant hospitality over the whole of his career."[18]

Film and television[edit]

Starr was guest judge on the "Restaurant Wars" episode of the reality television show Top Chef: Season 5, which aired in 2009.[19]

Starr appeared in the 2007 documentary film "This is My Cheesesteak" directed by Benjamin Daniels.[20]


  1. ^ Tanaka, Wendy. "Mastermind behind high-concept eateries Since '95, Stephen Starr has built a restaurant empire.", The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 26, 2002. Accessed December 26, 2017. "He grew up in Woodbury Heights, the son of a television repairman. At Gateway Regional High School, he became known for promoting concerts - a fledgling business back in the late 1960s."
  2. ^ "Temple represented in Philadelphia Business Journal's "Power 76" list". Temple University. Retrieved 20 October 2017. 
  3. ^ Blume, Lesley. "All You Need to Know About Raucous Restaurant Impresario Stephen Starr". Vanity Fair. Conde Nast. Retrieved 4 February 2018. 
  4. ^ Lloyd, Jack (5 September 1980). "Getting Ready for the New Stars". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  5. ^ "Butt-Fugly Building: 2nd and Bainbridge". Philaphilia. Blogspot. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  6. ^ Darrow, Chuck (23 August 1985, Friday). "Stephen Starr has graduated from second fiddle". Courier-Post, Camden, New Jersey.  Check date values in: |date= (help);
  7. ^ Darrow, Chuck (23 August 1985, Friday). "Stephen Starr has graduated from second fiddle". Courier-Post, Camden, New Jersey.  Check date values in: |date= (help);
  8. ^ "Starr proves creative restaurant concepts can pay off huge" (Main Edition). The Philadelphia Inquirer. 13 September 1998. 
  9. ^ "STARR Restaurants". LinkedIn. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  10. ^ "The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar". Visit Philly. 
  11. ^ "Restaurants". Starr Restaurants. Starr Restaurants. Retrieved 4 February 2018. 
  12. ^ "Le Coucou Restaurateur Stephen Starr Wins Big at James Beard Awards". Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  13. ^ "Stephen Starr Restaurants". Visit Philadelphia®. The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation. Retrieved 1 January 2015. Bon Appetit magazine named Starr 'Restaurateur of the Year' in October 2005. 
  14. ^ Fishman, Steve (26 Nov 2007). "Mr. Big Box". New York Magazine. New York Media LLC. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Maroukian, Francine (September 2003). "The Philadelphia Experiment". Travel + Leisure. Time Inc. p. 5. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Jennings, Lisa. "2017 RH 25". Restaurant Hospitality. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  17. ^ "Starr, Melman compare steps to success". Restaurant Hospitality. Penton. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "Harvard Observer". Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  19. ^ Archived December 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "This is My Cheesesteak". IMDB. Retrieved 4 November 2017.