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Fry-day

Legion Friday Night Fish Fries carryout only in 2021 Help needed as volunteers withdraw in pandemic
Solon American Legion member Denny Hansen with the fryers the Legion will use to cook fish Fridays through the Lenten season. The Legion’s weekly fish fries return Feb. 19. (file photo by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– In past years, profits from the Solon American Legion’s annual fish fries funded community projects and upgrades to the building.
This year, profits will keep the Legion doors open until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, according to Legion member Denny Hansen.
The fish fries are the Legion’s largest fundraiser and 2020 was setting a record pace until the pandemic hit midway through the Lenten season, with 398 meals served on a single night.
Organizers were able to convert to a take-out only system, but the turnout was higher than expected, and the Legion sold out every single night except the final Friday, Hansen said.
In 2021, the fish fries retain the to-go format, with a little tinkering, and Legion members are gearing up for the first night, Friday, Feb. 19.
Stinocher Post 460 offers the fish and shrimp fry every Friday night through April 5 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Pick-up orders will be taken in 10-minute blocks by phone or in person at the Legion, 319-624-2277, anytime.
The Legion determined how many meals it can produce in 10 minutes and that’s the number of slots available for reservation, Hansen explained.
It allows the Legion to limit the number of people inside the building and promotes social distancing, but also ensures the food is piping hot, he said.
“It’s coming right off the griddle, right out of the fryers, put in the to-go containers and right out to you,” he noted. “It’s good and hot when it leaves here.”
Hansen is encouraging early reservations.
Last year, there were people who wanted a 6 p.m. time slot and the first slots open were at 7:30 p.m., he observed.
If you know you want fish every Friday night for Lent, he advised, reserve your spot now for any of the seven nights.
“You know every Friday, those will be ready for you,” he added. As the blocks fill up, the next closest times will be offered.
Home deliveries are available for Solon’s homebound seniors.
Hansen volunteered to help run the fish fries two years ago and brainstormed improvements with Steve Knight and Wayne Anderson in 2020, moving the service line and bringing back shrimp every week.
It turned out some people only wanted shrimp and some people only wanted fish, he said.
With the fish fries in takeout mode, it wasn’t hard to make a change, Hansen continued, and this year customers can choose between fish, shrimp and a combination dinner.
“We had to increase prices this year because the cost of everything just skyrocketed,” he explained.
The fish dinner includes three pieces of Pollock for $13; the shrimp dinner comes with 20 pieces for $15; and the fish and shrimp dinner includes two pieces of Pollock and 10 pieces of shrimp for $14. Children’s dinners (ages 5 through 12) are $6. All dinners include the Legion Auxiliary’s homemade cheesy potatoes and coleslaw, with in-house rye bread from Sam’s Main Street Market.
There will be no desserts and no drinks unless you want something to-go from the bar, Hansen said, but if restrictions eased on in-house dining, the Legion would bring it all back.
Also eliminated from this year’s fish fries is the 50/50 raffle, which raised funds in 2020 to bring a traveling version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to Solon. The visit by “The Moving Wall” has been rescheduled for August.
With 10-minute time slots and social distancing, it would have been impossible to find the time to sell tickets and have them signed, he said.
“We don’t want them in there that long, and they don’t want to be in there that long, so basically there’s no raffle this year,” he remarked.
Hansen is also in need of volunteers.
“It’s getting harder with the pandemic,” he reported. “I’m losing people that have been my help every year.”
The process starts on Thursday afternoons when a team of at least five comes in to make the tartar sauce, mix up the potatoes and prep the coleslaw.
A baker’s dozen is needed for Friday nights, Hansen explained. One person is breading fish while three are operating fryers; three more assemble and bag the meals. One person keeps the assembly line stocked while another takes dinners to the pick-up table. Others are needed to deliver meals to the homebound, to staff the curbside pick-up option and to wash pots and pans. The 13th could float, giving breaks where needed, he added.
On Saturday morning, two or three volunteers drain and clean the fryers, clean the counters and mop the floor.
Those interested can sign up at the Legion, or contact Hansen directly.
He’s already been in touch with a handful of interested helpers, but a lot more are needed.
“It’s a lot of fun to work in it. We get a lot of banter going on in the kitchen,” he added. “It’s a blast to do it. Yeah, you’re very busy, but it’s also a lot of fun.”
The other plus to volunteering is if you work Friday night, you can eat as much food as you want.
“You’ll never go hungry back there when you’re serving,” Hansen noted.
Anyone wishing to help can contact Hansen by voice or text at 319-330-6810, or by emailing to denny_hansen@southslope.net.

Solon American Legion Stinocher Post 460
Annual Lenten Friday night Fish and Shrimp Fry
Friday, Feb. 19, through Friday, April 5, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Schedule meals: 319-624-2277
3 pieces Pollock: $13
20 shrimp: $15
2 pieces Pollock, 10 shrimp: $14