Greekfest

Gus Panagopoulos and his son, Niko, will be volunteers at Greek Fast ‘N Go, a drive-thru mini Greek Fest, on June 26 and 27 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 110 E. Wallen Road, Fort Wayne.

Are you longing for a little spanakopita and baklava? Do you have a hankering for pastichio and souvlaki? If the cancellation of Greek Fest has you down, then get ready to shout “Opa!” and head to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church for Greek Fast ‘N Go, a mini spinoff of the annual downtown festival.

Greek Fast ‘N Go will feature drive-thru sales of traditional Greek Fest foods 11 a.m.-8 p.m. June 26 and 27. Located at 110 E. Wallen Road, just west of Coldwater Road, the church will serve made-to-order Greek favorites and fresh baked goods on both days.

When it comes to Fort Wayne’s summer festivals, Greek Fest is a perennial favorite, attracting more than 16,000 people over the four-day event, usually held the last weekend in June. The festival features live music, dancing, a walk-run, and children’s activities. With this year’s Greek Fest canceled due to COVID-19, what would have been the 40th anniversary celebration of the festival has been officially postponed until 2021.

“We’ll probably wait to celebrate the big 40th anniversary of the festival until next year,” said Frank Makridakis, chairperson of the annual event since 2014. “This Greek Fast ‘N Go may become its own annual event, depending on how things go.”

In addition to being a celebration of their Greek heritage, Greek Fest provides the 146 member families of Holy Trinity with operating funds for the church’s expenses. The cancellation of Greek Fest has had a major impact on the church financially. When event organizers learned that downtown festivals would be canceled, the church board was proactive in coming up with alternative ways to earn money.

“I don’t know if it was a single idea,” Makridakis said, “but we came up with the idea of doing a fish fry, and that evolved into the idea of trying this drive-thru mini-festival. We’re hoping we can make at least half of what we normally make with this event.”

To gear up for Greek Fast ‘N Go, church members first staged three drive-thru fish fries during the spring.

Gus Panagopoulos, director of business development for Jack Laurie Flooring, attends the church with his family, who all actively volunteer in the fundraising events. “My kids all dance at Greek Fest, my wife volunteers, we all volunteer. This is a way we can all be stewards of our church,” he said.

Panagopoulos spent many hours working the fish fries that served as warmup for the Greek Fast ‘N Go. “We’ve gotten it down to a well-oiled machine,” he said.

The church parking lot is divided into two drive-thru lanes, running the length of the lot. Security will direct traffic into the church and back into traffic. An ordering system will relay orders into the kitchen, where masked and gloved volunteers will prep and assemble the orders. The food orders will be delivered directly to cars in the parking lot by masked and gloved servers. Approximately 55 volunteers will work the event at all times, divided into two shifts, working in the kitchen, directing cars, taking orders, and delivering food. “We’re taking all required precautions to make this as safe and efficient as possible, while still giving people a taste of Greek Fest,” Panagopoulos said.

The church hopes to serve at least 2,000 cars during the two days. “We have about half of the food offerings that we traditionally have at Greek Fest,” Makridakis said. “We selected items to prepare that are favorites, and that can be prepped quickly.”

There are four dinner options: gyro, chicken souvlaki, pork souvlaki and pastichio. A la carte options are gyro, Greek salad, spanakopita, tiropita, Greek fries and rice pilaf. Dessert options are baklava and loukoumades. Accepted forms of payment are cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, Samsung Pay, Tap Pay and Apple Pay.

“We’re going to try to have a little ambiance of Greek Fest for cars waiting,” Makridakis said. “We’ll have some decorations and Greek music playing, and you might even see a little spontaneous dancing happen. You never know.”

Delivery service for the event will be available through Waiter On the Way.

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