Success of Lebanese Festival inspires organizers to create more drive-thru food events

The 25th annual Greater Dayton Lebanese Festival held at St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Church on 5915 Springboro Pike in 2018. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
The 25th annual Greater Dayton Lebanese Festival held at St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Church on 5915 Springboro Pike in 2018. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

One of the area’s most beloved festivals became a drive-thru operation last weekend, and, according to its organizers, received an overwhelming response from the community.

The St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Church in Washington Twp. put on the 27th Annual Dayton Lebanese Festival on Aug. 29-30 as a drive-thru food event, offering staples like Kafta, Chicken Shawarma and Falafel to guests eager to experience at least some normalcy amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Guests pre-ordered on the festival’s website and came to pick up their items in a drive-thru located at the church’s old location, 5915 Springboro Pike in Miami Twp. Customers were asked to remain inside their vehicles throughout the drive-thru operation.

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Daytonians were hungry for the festival’s famous dishes — so much so, in fact, that organizers had to turn people away Saturday evening after volunteers struggled to keep up with the demand.

“On Saturday evening, we had to stop taking cars,” said Father Alex Harb of the St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Church. “We had to tell people they couldn’t come into the line. It was that crazy. It was a really good turnout.”

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After struggling a bit to adapt to the large crowds on Saturday night, organizers came back on Sunday morning with a new plan to change the flow of the drive-thru in order to get food to the customer more efficiently.

Despite the difficulties on Saturday night, the drive-through event was able to raise at least $4,000 for Caritas Lebanon, a Christian relief organization offering aid to those affected by the recent catastrophic explosion in Beirut. Ten percent of gross sales from the drive-thru event, along with individual donations, accounted for this charitable donation to the Christian relief organization.

“We sold out of food, and with the donations we collected and the 10 percent of sales, we will be donating over $4,000 to charity, though I do not know the exact figure,” Father Harb said.

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Inspired by the success of the Lebanese Festival, the St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Church is planning more drive-through food events for charity in the future. The church is still in the process of organizing a Falafel event, which is set to take place on Sunday, Sept. 27, at the church’s new location, 50 Nutt Road in Washington Twp. Guests will also receive their Falafels in a drive-thru fashion, with all proceeds from the event going to Caritas Lebanon. And, though no details have been ironed out as of yet, Harb says that the church also plans to host similar drive-through events in November and January.

Stay up to date on all future announcements made by the Lebanese Festival by visiting their website or Facebook page.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Two festival drive-through events are coming up next weekend, with the opportunity to place advance orders.

Dayton Greek Festival

The Dayton Greek Festival will be hosting a carryout version of its popular event, set to take place on Friday, Sept. 11 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12 and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Dayton.

Menu items include gyros, Greek pizzas, chicken souvlaki sandwiches, spanakopita, spinach pies, baklava and more.

Customers will be able to order online through the Dayton Greek Festival’s website (www.daytongreekfestival.com/online-ordering). Orders must be placed online in advance.

Italian Fall Festa

The Italian Fall Festa, an annual celebration of all things Italian, will offer festival food to go on Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept. 12 from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 13 from noon to 6 p.m. in Kettering.

Menu items include spaghetti and meatball dinners, homemade calzones, sausage, meatball, Italian beef and Muffaletta sandwiches, pizza, pastries, cakes and deli items.

Guests will order their carryout meals on site and are required to wait in their cars while the orders are filled. The event is cash only. Customers can enjoy live music from their vehicles while they wait.

For more information, visit the Italian Fall Festa’s website at italianfallfesta.com.