Many parishioners phoned ahead, others ordered online and the rest just pulled up and rolled down their car windows. From Allegheny to Lawrence to Beaver and Washington counties, even if it was take-out only, folks were just happy to drop in at their parish fish fry.
Turnout varied for the first week, with some sites very busy while others had fewer customers.
Early on, two long lines of vehicles stretched from Perry Highway to Saint Teresa of Avila Church in Ross, part of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. Volunteers served up nearly one-thousand meals in three hours. Cooks, prep cooks and dishwashers worked quickly. Others brought the food outside.
“Our kitchen has been described as organized chaos, but everybody know what to do,” said Dave Eifler, fish fry committee chair.
In Wexford, the Saint Aidan Fish Fry at Seelos Academy served record numbers, according to organizers. There were some traffic issues as drivers waited for curbside pick-up, but volunteers are making adjustments and asked for patience this week.
Farther north in the New Castle area, business was off a bit at Holy Spirit Parish’s two fish fries, according to spokesperson Jean Pascale. But advance orders for this week were rebounding nicely.
At Saint Cecilia Social Hall in Rochester, part of Our Lady of the Valley Parish, fish fry co-chair Marlene Kislock said last Friday’s kickoff “went fabulously, busier than dining in. We had dinners ready in about five minutes,” she said.
Marlene and husband Jerry have led the event for about 15 years.
“It’s an active church, and everyone is willing to pitch in,” she said. “I enjoy it. It keeps me busy.”
The fish fry at Saint Alphonsus Church in McDonald, part of Saint Isidore the Farmer Parish, was held twice—on Ash Wednesday and two days later.
“It went very well,” said chair Jack Rosati. “People were so happy that there was something going on.”
Father Harry Bielewicz, pastor of Saint Isidore, noted that younger parishioners served as runners at the fish fries held at Saint Columbkille Church in Imperial and Our Lady of Lourdes in Burgettstown.
“People were pleased to support the church and get a good meal,” he said.
In Washington County, Saint Oscar Romero Parish saw fewer patrons but they brought plenty of smiles, according to co-chair Greg Starcevic.
“People just really appreciate our fish fry,” he said.