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Knights of Columbus offers family – or military – style dining

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One thing about the Knights of Columbus spaghetti dinner at the San Marco parish hall – if you go have dinner there, along with enjoying pasta and all the fixin’s, you are going to meet new people.

The K of C – not KFC – dinner returned on Tuesday evening, and calling it “evening” is pushing it. The knights start serving at 4:30 p.m., and there was no shortage of diners wanting to be the earliest of the “early birds.”

“Marco is an early bird town,” said Bill Sullivan, helping shepherd diners through the process that puts them together with their dinner. “You know, Marco midnight is 10 o’clock.”

The reason you meet new people when you patronize the San Marco pasta night is the mess-hall- style seating. The numerous K of C and Columbiette volunteers have the tables organized into long lines, the better to keep the diners flowing smoothly through the process, and helping the ladies who come around with dessert. On Tuesday, the traditional cup of chocolate or vanilla ice cream was augmented with a new choice, rainbow sherbet.

The knights fill in each row of tables, starting at the east end and working west across the room, not opening a table until the preceding ones are full. Yellow “crime scene” tape blocking off the rows helps to prevent diners from free-lancing and just plopping down wherever they please.

World War II Navy veteran Joseph Masotta, sitting with his wife Terry, said the chow line reminded him of his time in the service – particularly the mess deck on an enormous aircraft carrier.

“It’s like a military chow line,” he said. “They keep you moving.”

The Masottas got into a conversation with Richard and Sheila Ethier, sitting across the long table, and discovered that both couples come from Massachusetts. Masotta shared that he has been a Knight of Columbus since 1948, shortly after he was mustered out of the service.

In the chow line, everybody got to choose between two meatballs or one meatball and one sausage to go with their mound of pasta and the Knights’ proprietary marinara sauce. Executive chef Ed Eastwood stirred an enormous vat of sauce with an oversized spoon, while the servers on the line filled each diner’s order. Eastwood estimated the kitchen crew prepared 500 meatballs, 350 sausages, 100 lbs. of spaghetti, and 78 lbs. of salad.

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At $12 for the pasta, sausage and meatball, plus bread and butter, salad, coffee or tea, and ice cream for dessert, the deal was hard to beat. A cash bar serves wine and beer.

Grand Knight Dan Moll was in the back office, going over vendor receipts to estimate how much they were taking in.

“On a night like this, we might make two thousand, or twenty-five hundred,” he said – net. The dinner, he said, is a win-win, “good for us and good for the community. It brings people together, and shows them what we’re all about.” Worldwide, said Moll, the Knights of Columbus has 1.7 million members.

No more spaghetti dinners are on the San Marco schedule, but they will be offering a Friday-night fish fry every Friday until Easter, through the traditional Lenten season.

For more information, go online to marcoknights.com.

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