‘The Classic Grill’ captures the immigrant experience in Vallejo
NEW BOOKS –
Nancy Econome of Northern California published her debut novel, “The Classic Grill – A Tale of Greek Gods and Immigrant Heroes,” in June.
This story portrays a Greek-American family’s struggles in Vallejo in 1942. The novel examines the themes of family conflicts, ethnic discrimination, sexual identity and the impact of World War II.
The novel received Honorable Mention from the Maurice Prize in Fiction 2020 that is sponsored by the College of Letters and Sciences at UC Davis and New York Times best-selling author John Lescroart.
Econome’s book is a work of fiction, although she was inspired by the three Classic Grill restaurants that were located in Vallejo, Santa Rosa and Napa. Econome focused on Vallejo’s The Classic Grill restaurant on Georgia Street in old downtown Vallejo from 1927–1940.
The Classic Grill in Napa, at 963 Main St., was operated by Greek friends of Econome’s grandparents.
“As a second-generation Greek-American, I listened to many stories about my grandfather’s restaurant and how Greek immigrants worked hard to succeed in the business world,” Econome said. “ I also heard of the discrimination the Greek, the Japanese and other immigrant groups endured. I took these threads and wove them into my own story and added contemporary issues. The principal theme is that all immigrants bring value to the United States.”
“I enjoyed researching the various aspects of life during 1942. I was lucky enough to often confer with my uncle who worked at his father’s Classic Grill in Vallejo and my father’s cousin whose family ran the Santa Rosa Classic Grill.”
Econome also conducted researched at the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum.
The story centers on Greek immigrant Achilles Pappayannis who dreams big. He owns a successful diner, The Classic Grill in Vallejo, but that is not enough. Amidst fierce anti-immigrant discrimination, Achilles is determined to create a restaurant chain for himself and his oldest son, Demo.
Achilles is outraged when Demo quits school to pursue ancient Greek drama and suspects Demo is gay. His second son, George, loves the restaurant business but Achilles overlooks him, considering him to be unimportant. Resilient mother Chrisoula is conflicted as her family crumbles before her eyes. Will the Pappayannis family survive the immigrant prejudice in their town? Will Achilles open his heart and accept his sons and their American dreams? Is it too late to save the family and The Classic Grill?
“The Classic Grill – A Tale of Greek Gods and Immigrant Heroes” is available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Nook and other popular reading outlets. For more information, visit nancyeconome.com.