It’s a little after 6 p.m. Friday, March 16, and the line is almost out the door of the St. Brendan School. People are waiting in line for a fish dinner.
At the cashier, people place their orders — baked or fried fish, baked potato or french fries. They find a place to sit in the gymnasium, buy a 50/50 drawing ticket, have a roll from Auddino’s Bakery, and are quickly served lemonade, tea or punch by young people. Another young person brings out dinner plates filled with fish, potato, green beans and coleslaw. The meal is hot and filling, and the dolphin-decorated tables become full as families file in.
So goes a typical Friday fish fry night at St. Brendan during the six-week Lenten season, which concludes March 30.
“You’re running a restaurant for one day, because we do about 900 meals a night, which is busier than some restaurants,” said Kristi Houser, one of the volunteers who orders the food and oversees the kitchen operations for St. Brendan. “We’re basically there on Fridays from 1 to 9 p.m. It is kind of a part-time job for the time that you’re running it.”
St. Brendan doesn’t have a secret recipe for its fish batter — “We just have regular food,” Houser said — but one thing the parish is doing that’s different than many others is a shrimp dinner for the same price as the fish fry ($8.50) on March 30. For an added cost, beer, soft drinks and desserts are available. A kid’s meal is $3.50, with pizza, macaroni and cheese and applesauce.
In addition to fulfilling a spiritual requirement — giving up meat for Lent — the fish fry is an affordable dinner for parishioners and it serves as the fundraiser for St. Brendan’s eighth-graders to take an annual trip. The students work for the trip by serving the food and drink and clearing tables.
Houser said this is her second year of involvement with the fish fry. “It is a lot of work, but it is fun,” she said. “You get to meet people at the school, families that I otherwise never would have known. It’s an interesting time and an interesting evening.”
The St. Brendan fish fry will take place 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 23 and March 30. Carryout is available. St. Brendan is at 4475 Dublin Road.