Around 1,500 U.S. Navy sailors and U.S. Marines consumed an entire Greek port city’s supply of eggs and steaks during a four-day visit in May, reports first revealed late last month.
Sailors and Marines assigned to the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Arlington arrived at the Greek port city of Alexandrapouli on May 21, the Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported July 24. The arrival of the U.S. warship led the town’s hospitality sector to jump into overdrive to handle the mass influx of service members.
“We were surprised; we had not been expecting a rush of this scale on our businesses,” former Alexandroupoli hospitality association president and grill house owner Georgios Davis told Kathimerini. “The city center was crammed, demand went through the roof,” Davis said.
“I serve 16 different types of meat at my restaurant, and they tried them all,” Davis added. “They were very polite, they ate everything, with a particular preference for breakfast from Thrace.”
Davis said the U.S. service members “did not cross any lines,” but the town was still strained by their arrival. Eggs were a particular favorite of the visiting U.S. Marines and sailors.
“Yesterday, 1,500 people had breakfast in Alexandroupolis and ate eggs, sausages and bacon,” restaurant owner Giorgos Alavantas told Greek City Times at the time. “Yesterday, 6,000-7,000 eggs were needed. In other words, we don’t have eggs.”
“I got a panicked call from my employees on the very first day telling me that they’d run out of eggs, even though I had just delivered an additional 300,” Alavantas said.
Over the course of the visit, one market estimated the town went through more than 25,000 eggs.
According to Greek City Times, the Marines and sailors also “were amazed by the quality and prices of the Thracian food and within three days the city ran out of rib eyes, steaks, fillets and burgers.”
The restaurants of Alexandropouli may be the victims of their own success, with the quality and affordability of their dishes to blame for the run on eggs and meats.
Restaurant owner Vassilis Siklafidis told Greek City Times, “They have gone crazy. They keep telling us that they haven’t eaten nicer meat.”
“They have traveled many cities and come here and ask us what kind of meat this is, especially for the local meats, our fillets,” Siklafidis said. “And for the prices they see, they say ‘are you sure, are you sure it is that price?’ I say ‘yes’, and they find it incredible, excellent and delicious, and the value for money for them is very honest.”
Restaurant owner Michalis Xelaroudis told Thrakinet TV the U.S. warship’s arrival brought an excellent three days of business. He had people in his restaurant early in the morning and the city’s shops, restaurants, cafes and mini markets were always packed.
Bus services were quickly organized to meet the mass influx of American demand. The buses ran routes back and forth from the port to the city center, bringing hungry Marines and sailors to eat, drink and shop.
The U.S. service members also brought with them a massive new demand for tattoos.
Tattoo shop owner Nikos Katsoulis said he had started receiving bookings for appointments days before the Americans arrived, which allowed him to better prepare for their arrival. Katsoulis brought in additional staff and kept his shop open on Sunday to accommodate the rush.
The USS Arlington’s May port call in Alexandropoulis is not the first time U.S. sailors and Marines have strained cities. In October of 2018, around 7,000 sailors and Marines drank up the entire supply of beer in the Icelandic city of Reykjavik in four days.