Astoria volunteers will be hosting a free community cookout on the 31st Avenue Open Street on Saturday, Oct. 16, to thank neighbors for donating thousands of dollars to various organizations.
During the pandemic, Astoria resident Eli Goldman started barbecuing on Open Streets in his neighborhood to raise money for food pantries and progressive causes. Goldman has donated close to $90,000 to the ACLU, NAACP, Astoria Food Pantry, Astoria Mutual Aid and more.
Goldman started barbecuing off his balcony in hopes of bringing some joy to his neighborhood during the height of the pandemic, but never thought it would turn into such a large movement.
“People seemed to get a kick out of me barbecuing on my patio,” Goldman said. “It was boredom, working from home during the pandemic and a sense of hopelessness. Things were just so crazy in the beginning.”
Once Goldman started getting some more attention from his neighbors, he moved his setup to the Open Street in Astoria.
“It quickly snowballed into a real thing,” Goldman said. “People started to see what I was doing and how much money we were raising for charity. There was once or twice a month when [we] would set up two smokers and make as much food as we could and feed anyone regardless if they could pay or not and instead of keeping it for ourselves; we gave it away.”
Goldman said that the event Saturday is meant to thank the neighborhood for helping him and his passion grow so quickly over the past year.
The street fair is the first of its kind, said Goldman, and he doesn’t know what to expect.
“We usually serve 150 people, but we have a lot more restaurants involved,” Goldman said. “It’s usually just us.”
The event will be located at 31st Avenue between 33rd and 35th streets, and will start at 11:30 a.m. with music until 9 p.m.
There will be five DJs and a Brazilian drumline at 2:30 p.m. Free food from local restaurants like Between the Bagel, Cafe Boulis and King Souvlaki will be available from 1 to 5 p.m. Weather permitting, there will also be a family-friendly Halloween movie at 9 p.m.
“If you can’t afford it if you’re having a bad day, you forgot your wallet, you got fired or your employment ran out, as long as there is food, you’re getting fed,” Goldman said.
Goldman also said it was really important to him to feature Astoria restaurants and artists at the event.
“We really wanted to show how vibrant this community is,” Goldman said. “Some street festivals aren’t reflective of their neighborhood, but these are Astoria bars and restaurants. After this event, you can still meet these people just two blocks away from you.”
For more information on the event, visit their Instagram page @tikkunbbq. Donations can be made on their GoFundMe page.