Get ready for your Greek food fix.
The annual food festival at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Mt. Lebanon regularly draws thousands of people during its usual four-day run in mid-June. But as has been the case with most traditions, COVID-19 sidetracked the festival this year.
Thanks to the event’s planning committee, the sidetracking turned out to be temporary.
“We felt like we had to do something,” organizer Nick Kratas said. “Plus so many people were asking.”
And so the Holy Cross Online-Only Greek Food Sale is scheduled for Sept. 11 and 12, with orders placed in advance filled at the customer’s convenience.
“You’ll choose a pickup time and date for one of those two days,” Kratsas said. “You pull up to the church. You pull into the lot. We bring the food to your car, so you don’t have to get out or walk into the church. It will be contactless, except to hand the bag to you in the car.”
Such streamlining for the sake of simplicity extends to getting everything ready.
“The way we usually do our festival, it’s weeks and weeks of planning and cooking and preparing and all those things,” Kratsas said, with plenty of people working in close proximity.
“We had several restaurant owners at the church who stepped up and said, ‘hey, there’s no reason for you guys to do this. If we all take a piece of the burden, we can have it done. We’ll do it professionally.’”
Many of the familiar Greek food favorites will be available again this year. But instead of offering items a la carte, the menu features combination platters, such as half a chicken with rice pilaf and garden vegetables.
Regarding another delicacy, Kratsas reported: “For the gyro, we’ve actually doubled the meat because we’re doing an open-face version.”
Holy Cross actually started taking online orders three years ago for customers who wanted to go that route, and by 2019, about 500 people took the opportunity.
“When we had to pivot, we already had a system in place that we could just jump right into, which was really nice,” Kratsas said.
The modified food festival seems to be getting a good response, as more than 1,100 people had expressed interest on the event’s Facebook page more than a week before the scheduled start.
And that’s good news for the folks who have been planning it.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about how we would do this and how it would work,” Kratsas said, “and I think we have a pretty good plan.”