Greeks in Birmingham

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It is written that the first immigrant from Greece, George Cassimus, arrived in Birmingham in the late nineteenth century, had a brief stint as a fireman, and then quickly turned to the restaurant business. His Fish Lunch House, which opened in 1902, may or may not be the first Greek-owned restaurant in town, but it was certainly a starting point—and perhaps even an inspiration—for the multitude of Greek-owned restaurants that have fed generations of hungry folks in Birmingham since.

And the names of the these restaurants create an interesting kind of foodways genealogy. Greek immigration and restaurant history can be traced through a place like Gus’s Hot Dogs, which was started by a man named Gus, then owned by Aleck and now run by George—all Greeks who saw opportunity in The Magic City. Whether it’s souvlaki or hot dogs, baklava or peanut butter pie, Greeks in Birmingham have perfectly melded their own food traditions with those of the Deep South. A feat that must be experienced to be truly appreciated.



This project sponsored by a grant from Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q

Interviews

Aleck Choraitis, Owner Andrew's Bar-B-Q Restaurant

Andrew’s Bar-B-Q

Aleck Choraitis, owner of Andrew’s Bar-B-Q, came to Birmingham from Greece via Venezuela in 1957. He got into the restaurant… Read More…

Gus's Hot Dogs

Gus’s Hot Dogs

Gus Alexander, a native of Greece, opened Gus’s Hot Dogs, sometime in the late 1940s. George Nasiakos took it over… Read More…

Niki's Downtown

Niki’s Downtown

Born in Greece, George Sissa grew up in Birmingham, where his father ran a handful of restaurants downtown, including the… Read More…

Jimmy Koikos, Owner The Bright Star Restaurant

The Bright Star

Opened by Greek immigrant Tom Bonduris in 1907, The Bright Star is Alabama’s oldest restaurant still in operation. The restaurant… Read More…

The Fish Market

The Fish Market

George Sarris came to Birmingham from Greece in 1969. After a few years of working in restaurants owned by relatives… Read More…

The Smoke House

The Smoke House

Theo Hontzas arrived in Birmingham from Greece in 1958, when he was twenty-five years old. His brother, Gus Hontzas, was… Read More…

Yanni's

Yanni’s

Owned by John Calamas, Yanni’s (“John’s” in Greek) is tucked away in the upscale Vestavia City Center and is a… Read More…

Zoe's Kitchen

Zoe’s Kitchen

Zoë Proferis Cassimus has been surrounded by the food business all her life. Her father had the legendary John’s restaurant… Read More…