By PETE FONTAINE It was approximately 8:15 Sunday evening and Theofanis "Frank" Markos, the workhorse-like chairman of last weekend's first-ever Cranston Greek Fest Express, joined other Church of the Annunciation volunteers in the Peter G. Mihailides
It was approximately 8:15 Sunday evening and Theofanis “Frank” Markos, the workhorse-like chairman of last weekend’s first-ever Cranston Greek Fest Express, joined other Church of the Annunciation volunteers in the Peter G. Mihailides Center kitchen washing pots, pans and other food containers used during the three-day event.
Markos, who showed no signs of festival fatigue, kept working while assessing the fun-and-food-filled event that replaced – in part – the Greek Orthodox parish’s annual Cranston Greek Festival, which was wiped out due to COVID-19.
“I first want to say thank you to all the people who came here and supported us during the weekend,” he said. “We were thrilled with the number of people who turned out and picked up our food and pastry.”
He added: “We did very well, actually much better than we expected, so again, we have to thank everyone for their support … we went above and beyond our expectations. People really liked that they could order food then pick it up.”
The three-day event proved again just how popular Annunciation’s famous Greek food and pastry is, and when Sunday’s closing time of 7 o’clock rolled around, Markos delivered the bad news to a late-arriving customer: “I’m sorry, sir, everything is sold out.”
When asked about event’s most popular food item, Markos quickly replied: “Our pork souvlaki and roast lamb dinners … even the chicken souvlaki was a huge hit.”
Ladies like Jessica Stewart, who works at Suburban Pharmacy in Warwick, and Judy Lancellotta of Cranston picked up bags containing Annunciation’s always popular gyro sandwich while countless people purchased such sweet caloric creations as baklava and koularakia cookies and pastry trays that go nicely with the morning’s coffee or after-dinner tea.
The three-day event, which Markos said may be held again next year in addition to the Cranston Greek Festival in September, was a huge success for a number of reasons – most notably because “the younger people of our parish really stepped up to the plate and volunteered for a number of duties all weekend long.”
Moreover, as the Annunciation family does for the Cranston Greek Festival, countless hours of careful preparation went into the Greek Fest Express. Volunteers wore masks and gloves throughout, while signs with COVID-19 rules and information were placed on the church grounds.
The entire event, as many visitors assessed, was “well-planned from parking to actually picking up food orders.”
Large signs were placed at both entrances of Annunciation’s grounds off Oaklawn Avenue showing the entrance and exit, which was under protection by a Cranston Police officer. When people arrived they were warmly greeted by several parishioners who explained the parking system and walked through a roped-off area to the “Big Top,” where they gave their names and were handed large papers bags replete with the names and food orders that they previously placed online.
With the exception of Friday’s opening night, which Markos said “included some unfortunate first-time snags,” the weekend “went smoothly and without a hitch.”
So smooth, in fact, Markos hinted that there could be a return of the Cranston Greek Fest Express in 2021.