The Bright Star, Alabama’s oldest Greek family owned restaurant
23.Jun.2015

Owned by the Koikos family since 1925 and serves up specialties like Greek-style tenderloin and snapper in the massive four-room space that started as a simple counter in 1907.

History of Bright Star
brightstar counterSince 1907, The Bright Star restaurant has been serving generations of customers its specialty Greek- style snapper and steak, signature seafood gumbo, luncheon specials, and famous pies. Located in Bessemer, Alabama, the restaurant has a regional following and draws patrons from throughout the Southeast as well as nearby Birmingham.

The Bright Star’s exceptional longevity result from one family’s continued commitment to excellent food and service. Family patriarchs Bill and Pete Koikos emigrated from Greece in 1923 and two years later purchased an ownership interest in the restaurant from founder Tom Bonduris.

Since 1966, Bill’s two sons, Jim and Nick Koikos have owned and operated the business. The Bright Star has experienced remarkable growth, expanding from a 25 seat cafe to a 330 seat restaurant, all without sacrificing quality. Over the past ten years, the Bright Star has consistently been rated among the top three restaurants in Birmingham by Birmingham News readers. In addition the Restaurant was recognized in the United States Congressional Record in 1996 by Senator Howell Heflin for its status as an Alabama landmark and its service to the community.

In 1907, a small cafe with only a horseshoe-shaped bar opened its doors to the bustling community of Bessemer, Alabama. Outgrowing three locations, the Bright Star moved to its present site in 1914, and patrons were introduced to a new dining atmosphere.

brightstar old

Ceiling fans, tile floors, mirrored and marbled walls – most of which exist today – reflect the style of that era. Murals painted by an itinerant European artist are another interesting feature of the past.

Major alterations and renovations of the premises and kitchen were completed in 1966, and the dining room was expanded in 1978 with the addition of the “1907” room. Because of its growing popularity as well as the need for additional banquet space, the final expansion of the Bright Star occurred in 1985 with the addition of the “Dixie” and the “Green” rooms.

brightstar now

The Bright Star’s reputation has thrived because of special attention to two areas integral to the success of any restaurant – outstanding service and superior cuisine. Outstanding service is reflected in the consistent hard work of the two owners of the restaurant, Jim and Nick Koikos.

On any given day, one or both of the owners will be on the premises overseeing the lunch and dinner shifts. Their hard work and consistency, along with the leadership of Chef Ross brightstar koikosDaidone, is reflected in the 90 member staff, whose average length of service exceeds 7 years.

The Bright Star’s dedication to superior cuisine is reflected in its commitment to use only the finest ingredients for each dish. Fresh seafood transported from the Gulf coast daily, the finest steaks available, and fresh vegetables and produce are customary on the luncheon and a la carte menus. Broiled Greek-style Snapper, Beef Tenderloin-Greek Style, and Broiled Chicken Greek Style are specialties of the House. Other signature dishes include combination Seafood Gumbo, Lobster and Crabmeat Au-Gratin, and the Broiled Seafood Platter.

For over ninety years, the Bright Star has emphasized customer satisfaction. Patrons from all over the South deserve and enjoy good food and quick service in a hospitable, pleasant atmosphere.

These goals have not changed since 1907, and the Koikos brothers, as well as the entire Bright Star staff, look forward to serving their customers in the 21st century.

 

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