SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -Johnnie Ganem’s is still a Savannah institution, but it once was known at one of the best places to get a steak, and a great hangout after hours. On one fall night in 1964, serendipity fell on Ganem’s.
“So the Cab Driver driver, knowing Johnnie Ganem’s was the place to be, brought them here,” remembers Margaret Rose Ganem.
Ganem was a senior at Saint Vincent’s, home, doing homework in her pajamas, when her dad had an employee bring her to the restaurant that night.
“I entered from the bar into the Steak Ranch, and immediately I didn’t see anything that looked like The Beatles," Ganem says. "I turned to my left, and next to the fireplace, there’s a table here, and there were about six British Gentlemen here, and I went ‘Oh My God is that really The Beatles?’ They jumped up, they were very playful, and of course, they were The Beatles.”
The “Fab Four,” or in this case John Lennon and George Harrison, were eating late night at Johnnie Ganem’s. The Beatles were in their British Invasion Year of 1964 tour. They were on the way to Jacksonville when the plane had engine trouble and had to land at Hunter Army Airfield. Paul and Ringo went on to Jacksonville, while John and George decided to stay in Savannah, which led to this chance meeting.
And when you 'Meet The Beatles," word gets around, even in the day of the rotary phone.
“When I got to school the next day, I had to go to the second floor to my homeroom classroom, and the whole class was standing at the top of the stairs, and they were all wanting to grab me, and they were all yelling and waving their hands," Ganem says. "They were so excited for me, and they wanted to hear every bit of it.”
Ganem believes the Beatles were in Savannah due to engine trouble which leads us to think of alternative history if that was the case,but they also had to go to Key West to avoid Hurricane Dora approaching Jacksonville. The Fab Four was also riding out that concert, as they refused to play the Gator Bowl, until they were guaranteed that the seating would not be segregated.
This weekend marked the 55th anniversary of the Beatles first appearing in America on the Ed Sullivan show.
That show aired right here on WTOC in 1964.