Starlite Diner & Coney Island: Breakfast, burgers any time

Jason Hester prepares to deliver a meal to customers. Hester co-owns Starlite with Jim Naum and Kosta Popoff, son of the original owner. PHOTO/KATIE VALLEY

Looking for a place to have great food and a good time? OU News Bureau reporters have visited some distinctive eateries in southeast Michigan to learn more about what these places have to offer. Reporter Katie Valley visited Starlite Diner & Coney Island in Burton and spoke with co-owner Jason Hester.

Starlite, which opened in 1966, sits at Center and Davison roads in Burton. PHOTO/KATIE VALLEY

Tell me about the history of this place.
We’ve been a family-owned business since 1966. We started with a Macedonian immigrant who just had gotten into the country and got a loan from the bank to buy into the business, and ever since then, we’ve been serving lots and lots of people. We serve about 1,000 hamburgers a day, and I’d say about 3,000 people a day. We’re open 24/7, 358 days a year, so we’re a pretty busy place.

Describe what it offers patrons.
We do a little bit of everything. We do breakfast 24 hours a day, so we have great hotcakes, great French toast, great omelets. We sell Flint-style Coney Islands, a lot of hamburgers and cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and desserts. We just have a great energy about the business that our customers enjoy. We have a lot of hustle and bustle. We get a lot of regulars, people we see multiple times a day.

Why would someone want to come here?
We do a lot of scratch-made food. Our prices are competitive with fast-food joints, but we make real food and we grind our burgers fresh daily. We kind of pride ourselves on fresh food, fast, so we have a really fast drive-thru. We had the first take-out window in Genesee County back in 1966, and we just have a very loyal customer base.

What do you do that’s different from other places like this?
Our fresh-ground burgers are probably the biggest thing that sets us apart. We’re probably the last place around that grinds our burgers fresh. There’s a noticeable difference — it’s not like getting a frozen patty from a lot of the other places.

The double-decker Starlite Burger is made with freshly ground beef. PHOTO/KATIE VALLEY

What’s one thing everyone should order here?
Our burgers. I would get a Starlite Burger — our double cheeseburger — double meat, double cheese. It’s probably the best thing on the menu. It comes plain, but you can get whatever you want on it.

How many people work here?
I have 70 employees. They work hard — a lot of personality, loyal.

What does the future hold for this place?
I think we’re priced right in the market, so we give a good value for what people get. The people love the diner style. People love the Coney Island style. We serve people from 3 to 90, so if a family wants to come in and get chicken tenders, another kid could get breakfast and mom and dad could get whatever they want, so we kind of fit the need for the entire family. It’s not like going somewhere and just being able to order pasta or just being able to order pizza — we just kind of fit the whole spectrum.

Starlite Diner & Coney Island is at 1500 N. Center Road in Burton. (810) 742-4955


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Posted by on Jan 19 2018. Filed under Eateries. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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