Friday, March 12

Fresh Ingredients The Birmingham Farmer's Market has served the city's restaurants well over the years but none quite so well--and none for quite as long--as the Hontzas family's restaurants. Niki's Downtown, now owned and operated by George Sissa, was opened when the farmer's market was located in downtown Birmingham. Actually, that was one of the reasons the restaurant was opened there on 2nd Avenue North. Eventually, the market moved to the Northwest side of town, where Gus Hontzas decided to open Niki's West. Niki's West is just a stone's throw from the freshest fruits and vegetables to be found in the Magic City, as is Gus's brother Theo Hontzas's place, The Smoke House Restaurant. I visited Theo today in the shadow of this great sign, and we talked about the family's long history in the restaurant business as the steam tables behind us filled with a glorious bounty.