The Bright Star, Alabama’s Oldest Restaurant, Still Shines

| October 12, 2017 @ 5:02 am

By Susan Swagler

There are Auburn players in the Bear Bryant room at The Bright Star.

Photos of Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winners share wall space with a plaque dedicated to the legendary University of Alabama coach in this small, cozy, highly popular, private dining room. This kind of inclusiveness represents hospitality at its most basic. And that might be the real reason The Bright Star is Alabama’s oldest restaurant.

First-time visitors to this celebrated Bessemer restaurant always get a complimentary cup of delicious seafood gumbo. It’s not unusual for customers to sit in the same server’s area for decades. Owners Jim and Nick Koikos, both in their 70s, still come to work almost every day and spend meaningful time talking with their guests.This type of sincere hospitality could be in the very DNA of the restaurant’s owners, who, like so many successful restaurateurs in the area, are Greek. The Koikos brothers took over running The Bright Star in the 1960s. Before that, their father, Bill, did it. He and his brother Pete Koikos had emigrated from Greece in 1923 and a couple years later bought an ownership interest in the restaurant from founder Tom Bonduris, who was their cousin.

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