Greeks in Birmingham
It is written that the first immigrant from Greece, George Cassimus, arrived in Birmingham in the late nineteenth century, had a brief stint as a fireman, and then quickly turned to the restaurant business. His Fish Lunch House, which opened in 1902, may or may not be the first Greek-owned restaurant in town, but it was certainly a starting point—and perhaps even an inspiration—for the multitude of Greek-owned restaurants that have fed generations of hungry folks in Birmingham since. And the names of the these restaurants create an interesting kind of foodways genealogy. Greek immigration and restaurant history can be traced through a place like Gus’s Hot Dogs, which was started by a man named Gus, then owned by Aleck and now run by George—all Greeks who saw opportunity in The Magic City. Whether it’s souvlaki or hot dogs, baklava or peanut butter pie, Greeks in Birmingham have perfectly melded their own food traditions with those of the Deep South. A feat that must be experienced to be truly appreciated.