Come — let me serve you fish @ the fry on Fri.

That would be tonight (March 16) between 5 and 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks.

My invitation to be a host came out of the blue just after Gemini (Jim and I) walked in the door at Fish Fry No. 1 on February 24.

Diane Phaneuf approached me saying, “My husband wants me to ask if you’d be a host.”The words were barely out of her mouth when several spilled out of mine.

“Yes,” I answered. “I would absolutely love to do that.”

Diane ran to tell her husband, Pat Phaneuf, who was sporting an apron in the kitchen. She returned to me bearing a hug from him.

Pat Phaneuf is the athletic director at Sacred Heart School and tonight’s my night to put fish on your plate.

I’ll be in green for two reasons: St. Patty’s Day (Saturday) and for the UND Sioux hockey team playing in the Final Five this weekend in St. Paul.  

Plus I’ll tie on an apron just before 5 p.m.

Seems going to a Sacred Heart fish fry is the thing to do on a Friday evening during Lent. It’s where friends and neighbors and people from across town and out of town gather, socialize, and break bread together.

Nobody can do just one fry. Once you go to your first, you are “hooked” and you wait with “baited” breath for the next one (puns intended).

A sea of friendly faces fill the overflow dining areas as they enjoy absolutely delicious food: generous fillets of fish, baked potato, cole slaw, bread/butter and scrumptious homemade pie if you want it.

Who wouldn’t want pie? Last Friday I had rhubarb custard that was like my mother used to make.

The dinner is $8 a plate; pie is $1 extra.

I’m totally amazed by how mouth-watering the food is, all prepared by the people of Sacred Heart right there in the kitchen. They’ll even provide takeout meals if need be.

Proceeds from the fish fries are earmarked for Sacred Heart’s athletic department. Students and their parents representing all the school’s teams are very gracious and friendly waiters. They make sure your water glass is always full as well as your coffee cup. And they remove your plate when you are through.

A total of 2,247 people have attended the fish fries so far this Lenten season. Each week the numbers have increased. When Chef Jeff was host on Feb. 24, 701 went through the line. When Rob Horken was host on March 2, there were 724. And on March 9, Jim Bollman served 820.

Don’t let those numbers scare you. The double lines move very quickly. 

You should know – there’s a “bit o” competition among the hosts. I’m thinking that tonight it  would be very fun to top Jim Bollman’s total of 820 last week. And, even more fun to top 1,025. That’s how many John Reitmeier served when he was host in 2011. John will be back to host again on March 30, and Ryan Bakken is scheduled for March 23.

So – do come – let me serve you fish @ the fry tonight.

Until Soon

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