Last year, with the global pandemic just beginning, many festivals shut down during and took the year off. The Food Hall of Fame winning International Greek Food Festival found a way to adjust with a shift to the fall and a drive thru only festival. It was a remarkable feat shifting 35 years of in person event planning to an all virtual event practically overnight.
With a year and a half of pandemic event planning under their belt the Greek Food Fest is heading into the 37th year this weekend still virtual, but with a number of lessons learned and streamlined operations.
“This is a different festival for a different time,” event chair Jerry Horani tells us. “We made the shift, learned a lot, and have made adjustments to present the best festival possible. We know a lot of folks enjoy our Greek Food every year and we wanted to give them the best experience possible while still helping out the charities that we love to support with the festival every year.”
The festival is online ordering only, which can be done here. Once your order is in you pickup through the drive thru line at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Napa Valley Road. When you are ordering you put in an estimated pickup time so one of their 100+ volunteers can have the order ready. Pickup is available this Friday and Saturday from 11-7 both days. It is a smooth process that had me in and out in about 5 minutes last year.
The shift to virtual and being held in the fall has brought a number of unexpected, and sometimes welcome, changes to how people interact with the festival. The shift to the fall is something that they have enjoyed due to the extra planning time they get by being later in the year, it is something Horani says the committee is thinking about making permanent. Also there has been changes to ordering behavior. Where the Friday lunch shift was typically the slow service time of the festival (and my personal favorite time to go), now it is the busiest, filled with large office lunch orders from all over the area.
They have also not been immune from some of the impacts of the pandemic that many restaurants have faced, such as supply shortages. There are some items they had to cut from this year’s menu due to lack of availability. They were still able to keep many of the favorites such as the gyro platter, patstitsio platter, Greek meatballs, and of course the baklava and wedding cookies that they are famous for. Falafels make a welcome return this year in the form of the falafel plate, and they are adding bowls of hummus with pita.
All told the Greek Food Festival expects to serve out thousands of orders of all the items. Last year they were able to sell out of all the food, so ordering quickly is a must. Ordering is available now on GreekFoodFest.com for pickup either Friday or Saturday, and will run until they sell out.