Jimmy Koikos

From Bhamwiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

James Bill Koikos (born April 21, 1938 in Bessemer; died November 16, 2019) was co-owner of the Bright Star Restaurant in Bessemer.

Jimmy was the second of three children born to Vassilios "Bill" Koikos and his wife Anastasia of Dartmouth Avenue. He was born prematurely and weighed just three pounds. He attended Arlington School and Bessemer High School, where he played football under coach Snitz Snider. He began helping out at the restaurant when he was 14, earning $10 a week, of which $0.25 was deducted for Social Security and another $5 deposited in his savings account at the First Federal Bank.

After graduating in 1957 Koikos enrolled at the University of Alabama to study business administration. When his Uncle, Pete Koikos retired from the Bright Star, Jimmy left school to become a manager of the restaurant, beginning on January 1, 1960. With the exception of his service in the U.S. Coast Guard in the early 1960s, he worked full time at the restaurant for the rest of his life.

His younger brother, Nicky joined him a few years later. They took over ownership of the business from their father in 1974. Jimmy managed the front of the house, greeting and chatting with customers, while Nicky managed the kitchen and wait staff. He became well-known for his geniality, humor and generosity.

Koikos developed a special relationship with Alabama football coaches Bear Bryant, Gene Stallings and Nick Saban. He attended most games and many practices, and always brought icebox pies for the football staff. He was an honorary member of the A-Club, and hosted Red Elephant Club meetings at the Bright Star. The "Grab & Go" section of the dining hall at Alabama's Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility was dedicated in his honor. He also served on the board of directors of Bessemer's First Financial Bank.

Koikos was diagnosed with cancer in April 2019. He died at home that November. After a Trisagion service at Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral he was buried at Elmwood Cemetery. Though he was married twice, Koikos did not have children. He was survived by his two siblings, three nieces and several cousins, great-nephews and nieces.


  • Bright Star Restaurant/Niki Sepsas (2007) A Centennial Celebration of the Bright Star Restaurant. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press ISBN 9780817315986
  • Carlton, Bob (November 17, 2019) "Bright Star’s Jimmy Koikos dies." The Birmingham News
  • "James Bill Koikos" obituary (November 17, 2019) The Birmingham News