Tikkun BBQ has been bringing the Astoria community together by making delicious food and collaborating with other groups in the neighborhood to help raise funds for local organizations.
The volunteer-run pop-up barbecues are much more than just a chance to grab a good bite — their primary goal is to use the events to raise money for local charities. Since they’ve started a year and a half ago, they’ve already raised over $90,000 and they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
Eli Goldman first started the goodwill event from his balcony in April 2020, selling baked bread to donate the proceeds to charities and to socialize with others from a distance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the city’s subsequent shutdown.
Being stuck at home inspired Goldman to put his passion for cooking into good use. The idea gradually gained traction in the neighborhood and became a popular event.
“At the end of the day, if you want to feed people it takes money,” Goldman said. “If you want to help people who have experienced domestic violence, you’ve got to pay for the bills for the housing complex. So a lot of what we do is donation to help out causes of care.”
Each time guests come by and pay for great food that is now made by both Goldman and volunteers, with about 50% of the proceeds going to charities of the group’s choosing each time.
Originally when the turnout was localized to his balcony, he was able to give 100% of the proceeds to charities, but because the barbecues have gained a much larger turnout since it first began, the other 50% now goes toward buying food and supplies.
Tikkun BBQ has helped other causes like voter registration, but much of the focus is toward raising money for where it counts in order to truly make a difference in the community. Some of their events have been hosted at the 31st Avenue Open Street, but others have been hosted at other staples in the neighborhood like Comfortland, Diamond Dogs and Singlecut, to name a few.
Because the Astoria community is so tight knit and often eager to help out for a good cause, it wasn’t too hard to get these businesses involved.
“Sometimes it was just shooting them a message on Instagram, sometimes it’s word of mouth and they contact us, and a lot of times it was me just walking into places, and saying, ‘Hey, you may have seen me barbecuing in the middle of open streets,” Goldman said.
Most recently, Tikkun BBQ received a proclamation by state Senator Michael Gianaris, to recognize Goldman and his group after reaching a milestone of raising over $100,000 for charity. Some of the causes they’ve donated proceeds include the Astoria Food Pantry, Astoria Mutual Aid Network and Safe Horizon.
Proceeds from the next events, on Nov. 19 and Dec. 17, will go toward City Harvest and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The group is currently raising money for a smoker so that they can make even larger quantities of food that will help them hold bigger events and, ultimately, raise even more money for other organizations.
“We just really want to be good at what we do and we want to bring people together,” Goldman said. “When you see the line of people and how happy everyone is to be there, it’s all worth it.”