Annual St. George’s Dinner returns as a drive-only event

It has been three years since Wichita got to sample the cabbage rolls, kibba and baklawa served at the St. George Lebanese dinner and food sale, a popular annual tradition in Wichita that began 100 years ago. and which draws large crowds every October. .

Church leaders, fresh out of a major cathedral remodel, decided to skip 2019, promising to bring dinner back in 2020. But 2020 had other plans, and dinner had to be skipped again. last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But COVID numbers started improving earlier this year, and the organizers of the Big Dinner – which typically feeds around 5,600 people a year – have decided they’re ready to bring it back. They announced their plans to the public and began to cook and freeze the various components of the dinner.

And then things changed again. The Delta variant drove the number of COVIDs in the community up, and as local hospitalizations increased, dinner organizers met to decide how they needed to move forward. Last week, they decided that for the first time in dinner history, it would only be offered in a take-out format, and this year drive-through pickup will be the only option.

“But we’re going to make this the most hospitable drive-through Wichita has ever seen,” said Jennifer Sebits, one of the event’s co-chairs.

Dinner is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on October 9 and from noon to 7 p.m. on October 10.

The annual St. Georges Lebanese Dinner and Food Sale returns next month after a two-year hiatus. But it will only be available in drive-in format. Courtesy photo

In a typical year, people who attend the dinner can choose between having dinner inside the church and being served by its members or having their food wrapped to go to a service lane in the church parking lot, 7515 E. 13th St.

Because drive-thru will be the only option this year, the committee made elaborate plans to keep it running smoothly, as they still hope to sell around 5,600 meals, which cost $ 20 each for adults, $ 15 for children. ages 10 and under and include salad, pita bread, cabbage rolls, kibba, ruz, and yuknee – which is a Lebanese stew of green beans, rice, and tomatoes – and baklawa.

They have closely studied the drive-thru implemented at Chick-fil-A, which is renowned for getting customers through the line quickly, and they plan to replicate it, Sebits said. Their configuration will include three lanes of traffic, and church members holding iPads will direct people to the correct lanes.

Because diners will not be entering the church, they will not be able to shop as they usually do at the dinner Country Kitchen, which offers extra servings of things like kibba, grape leaves and the baklawa. But people will still be able to collect these things in one of the passageways, Sebits said.

Regular dinner attendees like to order plenty of extras to store their freezers during the winter, Sebits said.

“And what better time to fill your freezer than during a pandemic?” ” she said.

People who only want the extra food and not the packed dinner can pick it up early on October 2-3. They can pre-order food from, and this is where they can pre-order tickets for the packed dinners as well. Tickets for the dinner will also be available on-site on the day of the event, or they can be picked up at the church.

While the new format presents a certain challenge, the dinner co-chairs said, the congregation did not want to skip another year. The dinner not only helps them raise funds for local charities, but it also serves as a bonding experience for the faithful, many of whom are from families whose members have attended since the first dinner held in 1921.

Church members began planning the dinner in April and began cooking in July.

“The whole dinner process is proving so exciting,” said Phyllis Abraham, another dinner co-chair. “This year the people in the dining room and kitchen were very excited to come and work, especially our new hires who may have never seen this happen before. ”

This story was originally published September 16, 2021 2:04 pm.

Denise Neil has been covering dining and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners for local restaurant information. She is a regular judge at local culinary competitions and speaks to groups across Wichita about catering.

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