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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.


Jimmy Koikos

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:
2004-03-11 09:00

Amy Evans

Amy Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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