Kostas Restaurant

What’s next for Kostas? New owner talks about plans for iconic Hamilton restaurant

An iconic Hamilton restaurant is expected to open under new ownership sometime this summer.

Kostas, which got its start in 1950 at 221 Court St., most recently changed hands earlier this year, from Young Kim to Yunhui Bui, the restaurant’s fourth owner.

Bui, a Butler County Clerk of Courts accountant for the past 15 years, said she is a single mother of four sons, three of whom have finished college and the youngest of whom is a senior at Miami University.

“I don’t have to take care of them anymore and I want to do my own thing,” she said.

MORE: Hamilton, Kostas restaurant go into time warp for movie shoot

Bui said owning the diner will allow her to combine her love of cooking and food with her sociable, outgoing personality in a city that has been her home since 1985.

Renovations to Kostas started in late March and a summertime opening will be when she unveil the changes that have been made to the place.

Those changes include a revamp of the restaurant’s kitchen, which has been stripped down to the walls, with all-new equipment installed, Bui said. The dining room was remodeled to include new tables and booths, and the entire interior received a fresh coat of paint, she said.

Decorations in the restaurant will be “all about Hamilton,” Bui said.

She said she spoke with the daughter of Kostas’ founder, who will provide a photo of her late father to include in the new restaurant.

In terms of employees, “they’re all coming back,” Bui said.

“I love it. It’s great,” she said. “They know what they’re doing.”

Bui, who purchased the business in January several months after it closed for renovations, said Kim has agreed to teach her Kostas’ recipes, including her breakfast gravy, and also will help with some of the initial cooking.

The restaurant, a longtime area favorite, is making a name for itself in Hollywood. It doubled as “the Liberty Bell Diner” during the filming of the movie “Carol,” which was released in 2015 and nominated for six Academy Awards. Bui said the Mark Ruffalo-Anne Hathaway movie “Dry Run” also filmed a scene at the restaurant in February, with preparations taking about five days and the actual scene being shot over the course of one day.

“It was fun,” she said. “I had to sneak in and watch it.”

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