Restoration of The Bright Star murals transforms state’s oldest restaurant

Outside of the Bright Star
Photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

The 101 year old Bright Star murals have been transformed over the past two and a half years to their original glory.   The Bright Star is Alabama’s oldest restaurant and deemed an ‘American Classic’ by the James Beard Foundation .

Restored murals in the Bright Star
The Bright Star’s restored murals – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Earlier this month, WBRC’s Absolutely Alabama featured a segment on The Bright Star’s efforts to restore the 101 year old Bright Star murals back to their original glory.

Watch  Absolutely Alabama: The Bright Star murals

“They (The Bright Star) have respect for tradition and appreciation of the arts, and the expectation that the first 100 years is preamble to the next 100 years, stated John Bertalan, the artist in charge of restoring The Bright murals in the Absolutely Alabama interview.

Bright Star Murals. Over 101 years old.
The Bright Star restored murals – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now
Murals before restoration
Example of the murals before they have been “uncovered”. Note the extraordinary contrast. -photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

According to The Bright Star, the murals were painted in 1915 by men traveling through the booming industrial town of Bessemer looking for work. The murals depict the landscape from their native Germany.

Plaque commemorating the painting of the murals in 1915
Description of the murals at The Bright Star

This week, Bham Now visited the Bright Star, took some photos of the murals and received a brief tour of the restoration from Jimmy Koikos, one of the owners (check out the family’s remarkable history – here).

Koikos summed up with pride the restoration efforts.

“We are very blessed after 101 years (pointing at the murals) to have these.  The floor is 101 years old. The marble is 101 years.”

He then smiled, chuckled and concluded, “now I’m not 101 years old.”

The Bright Star’s restored murals, its people and of course – phenomenal food, makes it one of Alabama’s most treasured places.

Located in downtown Bessemer at 304 19th Street North
Bessemer, Alabama 35020, make plans to visit this beloved Alabama institution.

Plaque recognizing the Bright Star as an 'American Classic' restaurant
James Beard Foundation plaque in front of The Bright Star – Pat Byington, Bham Now



Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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