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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. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Greek Restaurateurs in Birmingham


Theo Hontzas

Theo Hontzas arrived in Birmingham from Greece in 1958, when he was twenty-five years old. His brother, Gus Hontzas, was already here running Niki’s West. Theo spent his first year in Birmingham working with his brother, hoping to make some money and then head back home to Greece. Instead, Theo bought The Smoke House Restaurant in 1960, and the Hontzas family dug its heels even deeper into Birmingham’s restaurant history.

The Smoke House had been open for a while as a short-order place, but Theo saw the opportunity to make it a family business, serving fresh vegetables and a few traditional Greek items that rivaled neighboring restaurants. With fresh produce available right next door at the Farmer’s Market, it was a match made in heaven. Theo retired in 2000. His son Pete (first cousin to Pete C. Hontzas down the street at Niki’s West) has taken the reins. Stop in for the Greek-style fish or chicken and as many vegetables you can fit on your plate.

Date of interview:
2004-03-12 10:30

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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