The Bright Star, when it first opened up [at this location] in 1915, used to be open close to twenty-four hours a day. It was just people coming from mining towns[for] coffee, doughnuts, chili—whatever…Even when I was a child, [Bessemer] was so crowded that] people couldn’t walk the streets.
The Bright Star
Opened by Greek immigrant Tom Bonduris in 1907, The Bright Star is Alabama’s oldest restaurant still in operation. The restaurant has seen three other locations over the years, but The Bright Star has been in its current location in the mining town of Bessemer, just outside of Birmingham, since 1915. Bill and Pete Koikos (Tom Bonduris was their great-uncle) took over the restaurant in the 1920’s, and Bill’s sons, Jimmy And Nick Koikos, are still there, greeting regulars and overseeing the expansive menu that includes fresh fish, steak and a unique assortment of pies. The Bright Star’s Greek-style snapper and Trout Almondine are legendary, but you can also find a rare delicacy like snapper throats or the unusual pineapple cream cheese pie. The interior of the restaurant is true to its 1915 glory, with handpainted murals on the walls, a marble-tiled floor, and even a couple of private curtained booths. The Bright Star celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007.
Date of interview: March 11, 2004 Interviewer: Amy Evans Photographer: Amy Evans