CROWN POINT | A region business owner said he is still in awe after being asked to cater President Barack Obama’s entourage when it arrived at the Gary/Chicago International Airport last week.
“This was definitely an honor to offer my sandwiches and desserts to the presidential crew,” said Chris Pavlou, co-owner of Crown Point's Sandwich City/Olympic Foods.
Pavlou has catered at the Gary Jet Center in the past for his friend Mike Partin, the center’s general manager.
“I take pride in my work, food and service, so he asked for me to put a catering job together for the arrival of the president," Pavlou said.
Pavlou thought he was catering Gary Jet Center employees who would be working overtime.
"But, to my surprise, when I delivered the food, the Secret Service was there, state troopers and Gary officers.”
Pavlou said he drove through a gate into a hangar where he unloaded five sandwich platters, homemade brownies and cookies.
“I was taken in a van to get a closer look at the presidential plane," he said. "I didn’t meet the president but I did meet the pilots of the president's plane.”
Pavlou said he was in awe the entire time.
“Just to see the plane and meet the pilots was pretty exciting,” Pavlou said. “I was very excited to have a chance to offer my food to whoever was going to eat it. It’s an experience that I'll never forget.”
Pavlou said he called Partin later that day to ask how things went.
“Again to my surprise the military pilots and some of the president's crew and the Secret Service ate my food along with the senior military adviser to the president,” Pavlou said. “And they agreed that the food was awesome.”
Pavlou said he also catered the presidential entourage the following day before Air Force One left Gary.
Pavlou said his shop, at 1441 E. Summit St. in Summit Plaza, uses fresh premium ingredients sliced daily.
“Our menu consists of gourmet sandwiches and paninis that are unique and different from the rest,” Pavlou said. There is also the option to create your own sandwich at the eatery.
Fresh homemade soups, chili, salads and side items including potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, Greek pasta salad, homemade cookies, brownies, baklava and cheesecakes are offered daily. Sandwich City/Olympic Foods caters with party platters and bagged lunches.
His father, Ted Pavlou, began Olympic Imported Foods about 45 years ago, he said. It still offers imported cheeses, fetas, meats, oils, pastas, Turkish coffees, imported chocolates and spices.
"The type of service and food I extended to the presidential crew is the same that I give to my customers on a daily basis,” Chris Pavlou said.