Joy Young Restaurant

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Joy Young Restaurant was a landmark Chinese restaurant at 412-14 20th Street North. In the 1960s it moved to Highland Avenue as New Joy Young Restaurant. Later the restaurant moved to a retail strip on the ground floor of a Brookwood Medical Center parking deck where it operated until the late 1980's.

According to Kristen Lee, her great grandparents, a man and wife named "Joe" (zho-ee) were the first Chinese family to settle in Alabama, having arrived in the Port of Mobile in the late 1880s. With no knowledge of English, they struggled in their new home. In 1919 they were able to open a restaurant in the boom town of Birmingham and, thanks to their generosity with meals during the depression, earned many valuable friendships that served them when the Ku Klux Klan tried later to drive them out.

Another location operated in Memphis.

The reviewing stand for the Veteren's Day Parade was usually located directly across the street from Joy Young

Along with chop suey and other Chinese fare, Joy Young was famed for its fried chicken, meat and three lunches and other less challenging options. Some of the booths had curtains that could be drawn for privacy.

The restaurant's sign is visible in scenes from the 1976 film Stay Hungry.


  • Lee, Kristen. "I Come from a Family that is Considered 'White'" Newsletter of the Asian Student Union at San Francisco State University. [1] - accessed March 27, 2006
  • State of Alabama Department of Revenue vs. New Joy Young Restaurant, Inc. State of Alabama Dept. of Revenue Administrative Law Division. Docket No. S. 91-246. "Final Order" - [2] - accessed March 27, 2006