"Alabama's Oldest Restaurant" / "An American Classic"
In 1907, Greek immigrant Tom Bonduris invested his savings and opened a small cafe with only a horseshoe shaped bar at First Avenue and 21st Street in Bessemer, Alabama. Outgrowing three locations, the Bright Star moved to this site in 1915, and introduced patrons to a new dining atmosphere. The interior of the restaurant has remained true to its 1915 glory, with handpainted murals on the walls, a marble-tiled floor, and a couple of private curtained booths. Major alterations and renovations of the premise and kitchen were completed in 1966. The dining room was expanded in 1978 with the addition of the "1907" room. Another expansion of the Bright Star occurred in 1985 with the addition of the "Dixie" and the "Green" rooms. Throughout the years, the Bright Star's reputation and longevity excelled because of one family's continued commitment to outstanding service and superior cuisine, and the dedication of loyal staff members.
Family patriarchs Bill and Pete Koikos immigrated from Greece in 1923, and two years later purchased an ownership interest in the Bright Star from Tom Binduris, who opened it in 1907. In 1966, Bill's two sons, Jim and Nick Koikos,became owners and operators of the business. Since opening, the Bright Star experienced remarkable growth, expanding from a 25-seat cafe to a 300-seat restaurant, all without sacrificing quality. The Bright Star has garnered numerous awards, including being listed since 2005 in the "100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die" brochure created by the Alabama Tourism Department. In 2010, it was honored by the James Beard Foundation with the America Classics Award. The America Classics Award is given to five restaurants a year with timeless appeal, beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community-from small, regional restaurants, watering holes and shacks, to lunch counters and down-home eateries that have carved out a special place on the American culinary landscape."