DUNDALK — Lent is known as a season of restriction, but the Knights of Columbus #2942 in Dundalk are having fun with it again this year. Every Friday until Easter, the group of Catholic men is hosting its annual World Famous Fish Fry luncheon and dinners.
In 15 years, the religious men’s group has served approximately 28,500 fish fry meals, and has raised more than $250,000 for charity during this Lenten event.
Joe Witomski is 88 years young, with kind eyes and a heart for service, and is a longtime member of the Dundalk Knights of Columbus. This is his twentieth year leading fish fry events.
He loves to meet new people and commune in fellowship with longtime friends. “We try to have them enjoy not only our meal, which is our world famous fish fry — but also enjoy each other,” he said.
Tables are set up and the $12 meals include coleslaw, fried fish, delicious potato wedge fries and a pastry. Crowds come in from noon until 6 p.m. every Friday of the season. Carry-out meals are $13.
“The result of what we do,” said Witowski, “is that a lot of our money after expenses are donated the to Catholic education programs and other charities. We don’t get paid, just all the fish you can eat!”
Witowski smiles as he says that once Easter rolls around, “you’re kind of tired of fish!”
About half a dozen people work behind the scenes, and more knights work registers, cleaning duties, and food preparations.
“We support three Catholic schools,” said Ed Spallone, who does cashiering and carry-out orders. “Currently, we’re supporting two seminarians in full. We give them checks throughout the year to help with their education, and we’ll carry that through until they get ordained. That money comes as a direct result of the fish fry. We also support some of the local charities, like the Crisis Center. If they have a need, they come to us.”
Military members, firefighters, police and other uniformed local heroes always eat free at the fish fry. “Their meals are all free,” the Knights of Columbus said. “They do a service for us, and we appreciate that.”
Young couple Colleen Martin and Sam Fladd were first timers to the fish fry last week, and enjoyed a lovely meal together. “We were looking for a fish fry,” said Fladd. “I grew up Catholic.”
“We didn’t want to go to a restaurant,” said Martin. “We go to VFWs a lot, and the American Legion. We like that home cooking. And the price is right!”
“Last year, we served 2,990 meals,” said Witowski. “And I feel that this year, we will do more.”
As of last Friday, the group has served more than 1,380 meals.
The super sharp Witsowski said that two weeks ago, someone called from St. Luke’s and ordered 21 dinners.
“We give to priests and nuns, and last week we had 12 firemen come in,” he said. “As long as you’re wearing your uniform, it’s free. We do a lot of philanthropy and charity.”
After doing fish fries for five years in Florida, Witowski joined the Dundalk Knights and helped kick off the world famous event. “I do everything,” he said. “I’m a gopher, and will do everything. Fortunately, I have a very, very great crew. Without all the guys and my wife, it wouldn’t be successful at all. Not at all. They all work very hard. We have people standing in lines, all the way out to the parking lot!”
The Dundalk Knights of Columbus will be serving delicious Alaskan pollock, fries, cole slaw, roll, beverages, and dessert through Good Friday, April 19. They will be serving meals between 12 and 6 p.m. Everyone is invited to dine-in. Join them at the Dundalk Knights of Columbus Hall, 2111 Eilers Ave. next to the fire house. $12 per meal, $13 for carry-out.