EAT IT AND LIKE IT: ‘Biggest and Best Ever’ Savannah Greek Festival ready for its comeback

Updated October 4, 2022 at 7:38 p.m.

Pardon the cliché, but Tommy Danos sounded like his hair was on fire. For the first 90 seconds of our chat via phone this week, I thought all I was going to get was one word answers. That has a way of making it difficult to write a story. It can, however, give you a pretty good idea of the temperature in the room. 

click to enlarge EAT IT AND LIKE IT: ‘Biggest and Best Ever’ Savannah Greek Festival ready for its comeback
Jesse Blanco

Tommy is one of 4 head chair people in charge of the 71st Savannah Greek Festival. Quite possibly one of this city’s most popular food-related events. It’s happening this weekend, Thursday through Saturday evening at St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church downtown Savannah. 

“We’ll be ready.” He said through the commotion that was very clearly going on in the background. “We will be working all the way up until we open the doors, but we will be ready.”

Most of us have been there with last minute preps for entertaining. Only in a majority of our cases, we were looking to host perhaps a few dozen tops. Tommy and his crew thing they could very easily serve 10,000 meals over three days this weekend.

click to enlarge EAT IT AND LIKE IT: ‘Biggest and Best Ever’ Savannah Greek Festival ready for its comeback
Jesse Blanco

“This will be our biggest and our best.”

Numbers, he says, are a tricky thing for the simple fact that no one counts heads. They only go by volume of what was sold. He says they have about 10,000 take out containers but he isn’t sure how many were left over from last year. 

Still, they know what they’ve cooked in the past and he knows his volunteer army of roughly 24-30 cooks are preparing more than they ever have. 

click to enlarge EAT IT AND LIKE IT: ‘Biggest and Best Ever’ Savannah Greek Festival ready for its comeback
Jesse Blanco

“I know there will be more lamb. I do know that. But there will be more of everything.”

Despite the fact that planning for this massive event really started back in March, getting all of the pieces in place, he says, has been a challenge. Some ‘key members’ of the festival are no longer involved so there’s be a lot of ‘figure out’ as they’ve gone along. He says as they’ve gotten closer to the curtain going up, it has gotten ‘more intense.’

That would explain the banging of pots and pans I heard in the background during the conversation.

click to enlarge EAT IT AND LIKE IT: ‘Biggest and Best Ever’ Savannah Greek Festival ready for its comeback
Jesse Blanco

That noise though will be long gone once they open for business on Thursday for lunch. The savvy festival-goers show up for lunch on either Thursday or Friday, enjoy so many greek classics, then maybe take some home. It’s just easier that way. By Friday night (when the music and dancing shows begin) it can get crowded. 

That’s also when the $5 admission fee kicks in. Inevitably, that means longer lines and more of a struggle to find a seat. Especially this year considering it is the first full festival since 2019. If you remain crowd-cautious, you can still enjoy. You can easily use their on-line ordering system. You place your order on-line, they give you a pick up time, drive up through the lane behind the church at pick up time to be handed your order. Easy peasy. 

click to enlarge EAT IT AND LIKE IT: ‘Biggest and Best Ever’ Savannah Greek Festival ready for its comeback
Jesse Blanco

Like so many other events, 2020 was cancelled and 2021 was take-out only. This year there will be no restrictions and you can party like it’s 1999. Which happens to fit in this case, because this festival has been going on for 71 years.

“People are ready.” Tommy says. “Everywhere I go, people know this is what I do so they are all telling me they cannot wait.”

The food will be largely same as it ever was. They’ll have all of your favorites, just more of it. Tommy tells me there have been some challenges finding a lot of their ingredients this year because of supply chain issues, but they will still have everything. By Saturday evening they may start to run out of some things, which is to be expected.

“We’ve had to drive to Florida and Charleston to get some of our ingredients, but we’ve got them.”

click to enlarge EAT IT AND LIKE IT: ‘Biggest and Best Ever’ Savannah Greek Festival ready for its comeback
Jesse Blanco

They’ve got it all and they are working practically around this clock this week to make this as enjoyable of an experience as it has ever been in Savannah. 

“We’ll be working until the last thing’s in place.”

Sounds like it.

Published October 4, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

     

Jesse Blanco

One of the most recognizable personalities in the Savannah/Hilton Head Island television market, Jesse Blanco is sometimes called "Savannah's Anthony Bourdain." His 'Eat It and Like It' show has become a major regional brand in the foodie world.
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