Send Down The BBQ! Man Starts Business From Balcony To Raise Money For The Hungry.

Two-photo collage. On the left, there is Eli making bbq on his balcony. on the right there is a picture of Eli's balcony view from the street.

Growing up, Eli Goldman has fond memories of his family’s weekly Shabbat dinner.

His mother would cook for hours preparing food to nourish not just her own family, but anyone nearby who needed a good meal. The charitable act of feeding others left a lasting impression on Eli, who went on to work as a fundraiser for a non-profit specializing in feeding the hungry.

Like many others, Eli was sent to work from home indefinitely at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That April, he was listening to a story on NPR about Italians lowering baskets of food from their balconies to feed their neighbors. He looked at his own situation, a third-floor apartment in Astoria, Queens, and realized he was already set up to help.

“I realized I could do the same in Astoria,” Eli recalled. “So I started baking bread and lowering it in a basket, and anyone who wanted to buy it from the street, could. I would then donate 100 percent of that money.”

By May, Eli had moved on from bread to barbecue. Every food item has a suggested donation, which will then be donated to local community charities. If someone can’t pay, they don’t have to. It’s just that simple.

At first, just a few patrons showed up to eat Eli’s delicious slow-cooked ribs, brisket, and pork. Over time, however, word about the good food spread, and soon he had lines of people waiting to purchase his wares. Eli realized it was time to expand, so he formed Tikkum BBQ and reached out to community businesses to partner with them for sidewalk space.

“Tikkun comes from ‘tikkun olam,’ which in Judaism, means help repair the world,” Eli explained, adding that he knows he won’t be able to repair all of the world’s problems with just barbecue, but stating, “To me, that meaning means that it is my responsibility to do whatever I can to help support my community.”

Two years later, Tikkum BBQ serves up to 100 people at a time. They hold bi-monthly sidewalk barbecues designed to support and enrich the neighborhood, and of course, to feed the hungry.

“I don’t have some #BBQ heritage story where my dad taught me.” Eli wrote on Instagram. “I work full-time as a fundraiser at a nonprofit that focuses on feeding people, not some BBQ restaurant. I’m self-taught starting in May 2020. What I do have is a deeply held belief though that everyone needs and deserves to eat, regardless of who you are or where you’re from, from my mom @breadandbabka who always invited people to sit at her table (and still does).”

Eli’s dream of feeding the masses is working. Two years after lowering that first basket of bread to the sidewalk below, he has raised over $90,000 for his community!

This is a perfect example of being the change we want to see in the world. Well done, Eli!

Share this story to wish Tikkum BBQ continued success.

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