BRIDGEPORT — A Bridgeport landmark — famous for serving up homemade, traditional meals in a cozy, familiar atmosphere — is celebrating 60 years in business.
Twin Oaks Restaurant, opened by brothers Joseph and Michael Ielapi in 1957, is a favorite local spot for both carry-out and dine-in meals.
The restaurant’s offerings — which include variety of Italian favorites like pizza, pasta and hoagies — have been the center of countless family meals, pre-prom dinners and post-game celebrations over the past six decades.
Jim Ielapi, who manages the restaurant for co-owners Catherine and Darlene Ielapi (who are Jim’s mother and aunt, respectively), said the restaurant has expanded significantly since its humble beginnings.
“It was a small, one-room restaurant,” he said. “As the business grew through the years, we continued to expand the restaurant to what you see today.”
The quality of the restaurant’s cooking is what has kept customers coming back year after year, Jim said.
“The family, original recipes from my mother, my grandmother, my aunt are what keep people coming back,” he said.
The restaurant has thrived and continued thanks to its loyal base of local customers, Jim said.
“It’s been a tradition for many generations through years here in the community,” he said. “Our success is thanks to the patronage from the community.”
For many years, the restaurant has been the place to go to commemorate significant life events, Jim said.
“Especially when we first started, we were the spot where all the high schools would come to after the ball games,” he said. “It has been the spot where you come for birthdays or if you’re celebrating an anniversary.”
The restaurant, which employs more than 30 people, has long been a place where local high school students come seeking their first job, Jim said.
“It makes us feel like we’re supporting the local economy, by helping people get employed,” he said. “We’ve given a lot of people their first job in the restaurant industry.”
Chris Ielapi, Jim’s wife, said they want their customers to think of the restaurant as a second home.
“It’s family’s who come here to eat,” she said. “It’s family- owned and -operated, and we try to make this a family place to be.”
Jim, who handles most of the restaurant’s day-to-day operations, said he considers himself lucky to be able to carry on the family’s culinary traditions.
“It’s an honor and privilege that I can carry on the tradition for my family,” he said. “I’m the second generation, and we look to continue the tradition for many years through our family.”
Twin Oaks is located 818 W. Main St. in Bridgeport.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, call 304-842-3567.