Serving was to begin at 9:00 AM, but the lines began to form before 8:00, and its been like that for many of the previous seventy years. Veteran attendees at the annual Greek Labor Day BBQ and Pastry Sale know from experience to get there early! Monday September 2nd marked the 71st year of the event held at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation on Mt. Meigs Road. Customers could choose between pork, chicken, or lamb BBQ plates, all served with cole slaw, camp stew, and bread. Or, BBQ by the pound was available, and camp stew by the quart. As for the Greek pastries, which some say is just as big an attraction as the BBQ, there was baklava, flogheres, kataifi, kourambiedes, koulourakia, melomacarona, and on, and on.
The Greek Labor Day BBQ and Pastry Sale is always one of the most anticipated events in the city not only because of the excellent food, but because of the orderly fashion in which it is handled. It's not easy to move thousands of hungry people in and out without a hitch, and it wouldn't be possible at all without dedicated volunteers. Many people had purchased their tickets early and so only had to drive through the pickup line, or give their orders to volunteers who then filled their order. Nothing came to a standstill, everything kept moving.
In the cook shed, volunteers prepared the plates and ferried them to the pick-up points. People who walked onto the church grounds could purchase tickets at a separate location, then pick-up their order near by. Everything went like clockwork. Some people chose to eat inside, but most took their plates home. If you didn't attend this year, make plans to attend next year. Those new to Montgomery will be interested to know that Greeks cooking in our city is nothing new. Going back 100 years, many of the Greek immigrants to the U.S., and to Montgomery, brought with them their love of cooking and gathering together to enjoy it.
Many of them took jobs in established restaurants, worked hard and saved their money, and finally were able to open their own restaurants. Many readers of the Independent remember the Elite, the Riviera, and other Greek-owned restaurants in Montgomery. Chris' Hot Dogs, now over 100 years old, is one of the few that remains and is owned by Theo Katechis and son Gus. And by the way, if you enjoyed the camp stew Monday, you'd be interested to know that it was prepared by Theo Katechis. He's been doing it for decades using his own secret recipe!