Saint Katherine's, home to an annual food festival of Olympic proportions each February, has launched a monthly drive-thru.
Usually from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. the first or second Friday of the month, "Taste of Greece" will let you pull up to the parking lot and grab a big, fat, Greek gyro, spanakopita, baklava and more, prepared by a team of 25 volunteers in the church's commercial kitchen. It's a Herculean undertaking, but they saw a market ripe with opportunity—and they knew they were in good hands.
"Yiayia Bessie, my mother who is 87 years old, gave us her authentic recipes," says Gregoris Morakeas, the drive-thru chairman. "We're buying more expensive olive oils. Our tzatziki sauce we make from scratch each day. We did it one time when it was pre-made, and it didn’t taste right."
Although yiayia ("grandma") contributed most of the recipes, an invention by Gregoris became an instant hit: lamb sliders—three “Greek baguettes” (crunchy French rolls) stuffed with shavings of meat and ample au jus. He also credits pappou (“grandpa”) Mike for being a huge help in the kitchen.
The plan is to do it every month, likely taking a pause in January and possibly February because of the festival. But Gregoris has epic thoughts for future growth. They've already purchased a POS system (to be able to introduce a customer loyalty program); another idea is to prepare gift baskets around holidays with products like imported olives and freshly baked cookies. Pre-ordering with a credit card by phone [(239) 591-3430, ext. 9] has already launched—but just make sure to place your order at least 30 minutes prior to pick-up.
“Everybody including myself is volunteering their time and effort,” he says. “As we go along, we’re making a little money and everything is for the church.”
Planning a visit:
7100 Airport-Pulling Road N., Naples
For a schedule of upcoming dates, click here.
For a menu, click here.