Nancy Econome’s Diligent Historical Research Process
By Giuliana Harris
Greek-American Author Nancy Econome left no stone unturned when conducting historical research for her debut novel The Classic Grill – A Tale of Greek Gods and Immigrant Heroes. Released this year, the work of historical fiction takes a step back in time to life during WWII for emigrants of Greece to America. The Hellenic Journal spoke with Nancy Econome to learn about her extensive research process…
Econome’s book The Classic Grill – A Tale of Greek Gods and Immigrant Heroes, while a work of fiction, has a historical counterpart, being the actual Classic Grill restaurants that her family owned and operated. “My Papou, Thomas Econome, owned and operated The Classic Grill restaurant (a breakfast-lunch-dinner eatery) in Vallejo, CA from the 1920s to the early 1940s,” Econome said. She continued, “About an hour north of Vallejo, The Classic Grill in Santa Rosa, CA was owned and operated by his brother Bill Econome. The Santa Rosa restaurant served customers from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s.” Wait, there’s more! “And there was also a Classic Grill restaurant located in Napa, CA owned by close Greek friends of my Papou. But they all shared the same name, logo, menu ideas, and business card!” Econome detailed.
The restaurant served as an influential piece of Econome’s life, dating back to childhood. She shared, “My grandparents didn’t know fairytales and told my sister Janet and me stories about how they operated The Classic Grill, about the recipes, their customers, and how they did business. Even as a child, I realized that this slice in time was unique and precious as these Greek immigrants made their way in the American world.” On the other hand, Econome reflects on the fictional side of her novel, “Although my plotline and characters are all fictional, I took inspiration from my grandparents’ early life in the U.S.”
The influence and inspiration from her grandparents does not stop there. Upon asking Econome about her Greek-American experience growing up, and how her Greek culture has influence her both personally and professionally, Econome again gives credit to her family. “Anyone who know me quickly understands that my Greek heritage is an extremely important part of my life.” My parents, Georgia and Ted, encouraged my sister and me to speak Greek to our grandparents (all four were Greek immigrant pioneers) instead of English. We heard our grandparents’ detailed recollections of both their village life and restaurant work in the U.S.” Econome said. Continuing, “I am very proud of being Greek and attempted to share that heritage in my story. I created fictional characters and plot to reflect the lives of early Greek immigrants in the U.S.”