The lines form early and run long outside St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Cathedral Friday afternoons during Lent. And on each one, David Salanty is where he belongs — in the church kitchen. For more than 30 years, the 77-year-old has helped prepare and serve one of Cleveland's oldest and most popular fish fries, which draws faithful diners from as far as Port Clinton and Medina. We talked to Salanty about his three decades of serving up pound after pound of pike, cod and shrimp.
It's a two-day event for me. I come in on Thursday and do a lot of prep work, and I'm there at noon on Friday.
Frying the fish is something you have to learn as you go. You can undercook it or overcook it. How do you learn? Experience.
We're on a first-name basis with a lot of our customers. It's fun to see these people come back.
We had over 800 people on our busiest night last year, which was one of our best years ever.
The kids can move faster than the older people, so we depend on them to serve.
This is a family tradition for the workers. It's passed from mother to daughter to granddaughter.
I work with the people I grew up with, and we enjoy each other's company. ... We're one big family. We grew up together as teenagers and now we're seniors.
We church members fast on Fridays. ... It's OK for me. I don't like fish.