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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 annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

< Back to Oral History project: Greek Restaurateurs in Birmingham


Zoë Cassimus

Zoë Proferis Cassimus, born and raised in Birmingham, has been surrounded by the food business all her life. Her father had the legendary John’s restaurant in downtown Birmingham. Her cousins still have Kontos Produce, a family-owned business since 1888. Her husband’s family used to own a grocery store on 6th Avenue North in Birmingham. It is really no surprise that Zoë would make a name for herself and her food. Her mother’s cooking style and philosophy on nutrition was the primary inspiration for her popular café, incorporating traditional Greek ingredients like olive oil and feta cheese.

After years of cooking for friends and some prodding by her family, she opened Zoë’s Kitchen in 1995. Since then, Zoë’s Kitchen has become synonymous with outstanding and simple food that happens to be healthy. Her success has been multiplied by the involvement of her son, John, who oversaw Zoë’s Kitchen as a franchised restaurant concept. Even with stores as far away as Phoenix, the original Zoë’s is as comfortable and as personal as if you were eating in her kitchen at home.

Date of interview:
2004-03-11 16:00

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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