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Eat It and Like It: Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Fest moves to Monterey Square for 29th year

  • The popular annual Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival moves from Forsyth Park to Monterey Square this year. (Savannah Morning News file photos)
  • The popular annual Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival moves from Forsyth Park to Monterey Square this year. (Savannah Morning News file photo)
  • The popular annual Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival moves from Forsyth Park to Monterey Square this year. (Savannah Morning News file photo)

Eat It and Like It: Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Fest moves to Monterey Square for 29th year

10 Oct 2017

I must admit, at first I was afraid. I was petrified.

I’d heard a few weeks ago that Savannah’s Jewish Food Festival, affectionately referred to as “Shalom Y’all,” was moving out of Forsyth Park. The person who told me immediately had my undivided attention.

I thought there must be some mistake. Shalom Y’all and Forsyth Park go together like knishes and mustard! Hot dogs and Coney Island! Savannah and bad Chinese food!

That event can only get bigger, not smaller. My initial reaction was to wonder if the event was in trouble. What on earth could trigger such a dramatic switch? Well, once I got to the bottom of it all, I am here to report that my reaction was overreaction and this year’s Shalom Y’all might wind up being the best event they’ve had in years, back in its original location of Monterey Square.

“There were frankly a lot of reasons for the change,” says Jennifer Rich, executive director of Congregation Mickve Israel. “We’ve run into a few logistical issues over the years, so we decided to take a step back and reassess everything we were doing with the festival.”

The biggest challenge Jennifer tells me they had was getting food out to the park in a timely fashion. All of the food that is prepared for the Sunday afternoon event comes out of the kitchen onto Wayne Street near Drayton. At that point, it was dependent on the availability of a golf cart to get it down the road, through the massive crowds to Forsyth Park. Repeat that situation a few dozen times and you could see where that could get old in a hurry.

The other issue they ran into was getting all of their support equipment, stages and the like, out to the park. I have no trouble believing that is a massive undertaking. I said once upon a time, I’d rather move 5,000 miles than five blocks. Very challenging, and it was for festival organizers as well, every single year.

So how do they make it better? For starters, the 29th Shalom Y’all (set for Oct. 29) will be a complete Monterey Square takeover. The north/south streets around the square will be closed off, as will Wayne Street in the middle of the square from Drayton up to Whitaker. Gordon and Taylor streets will remain open to vehicular traffic, although any driver trying to get through there that day may want to re-think that. Of course, I’m referring to locals. I’m certain unsuspecting tourists will get snagged in the mess.

Food booths will line Wayne Street and Bull Street in front of the Mercer House across the square. Half a block north of the Mercer House, there will be a kids’ zone so they can enjoy as well. Ticket booths (required to purchase food) will be set up at opposite corners of the square, one at Gordon and Bull streets, the other diagonally across at Taylor and Bull. It seems like a win-win situation for everyone.

“Over in the park, if the kids wanted to play, parents were taking them to the playground, which pulled them away from our event,” Jennifer says. “This way they can enjoy themselves and not leave.”

The part of this event that is most exciting? The seating area. All of the walkways in the square will have tables set up. That will be the primary seating for the event, though there will be other tables, including high-tops around the square in a few different spots.

Jennifer says potato knishes will be offered for the first time at this year’s Shalom Y’all. There will also be Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Always popular at Shalom Y’all are potato latkes, blintzes, challah, noodle kugel and much more.

So, crisis averted. No need to panic. Not only is Shalom Y’all in very good hands, as always, but it’s clear moves are being made to allow it to grow in an organized fashion that will make the experience a little more friendly for everyone.

To be fair, this will be a first time moving such a large and popular event to a new space, so there very well could be some logistical issues that pop up unexpectedly. Just be patient, and allow yourself plenty of time to eat it and like it.

See you on TV,



What: Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 29

Where: Monterey Square

Cost: Free admission; purchase tickets for food



The Grey’s Sunday Supper this weekend is a celebration of the Jewish Sukkot holiday. Chef Mashama Bailey has a special menu lined up, served family style at $40 per person. Reservations are required. Call 912-662-5999 for more.

Also on Sunday, join us at Pacci inside The Brice Hotel from 5-8 p.m. for a special event to raise money for Komen Coastal Georgia. I will be there along with fellow 2017 Komen BigWigs Cyreia Sandlin from WTOC and Savannah favorite ice cream man Stratton Leopold. Twenty percent of all dinner proceeds that evening go to the Komen Coastal Georgia.

Not too early to start thinking about the Savannah Food & Wine Festival, coming Nov. 7-12. Tickets are still available, but a lot of the best events will sell out, including the Secret Savannah Speakeasy party at the Georgia State Railroad Museum. Find more now at

There is a new diner on Ellis Square in downtown Savannah. Find out all about it right now at

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