Be honest–when was the last time your good deed for the day was purchasing and devouring tacos? Never? That’s about to change. For the rest of the summer you’ll be able to pop by the backyard at Greenpoint’s San Damiano Mission, fill up on some seriously delicious tacos, and know that your money is going toward a noble cause–the repair and restoration of the church’s 104-year-old pipe organ.
“Josh Cohen, my partner over at Extra Fancy, does a lot of outreach and support in the neighborhood, and that’s how he befriended the Sam Damiano Mission,” explains Extra Fancy co-owner Mark Rancourt. “They asked if [we] wanted to use their yard for the summer as a food and event space, and we went for it.” Rancourt says that figuring out the menu was easy enough–who doesn’t love tacos?
Currently, Holy Smoke (the punny name of the summer pop-up) offers beer, rosé, chips, and a choice of three tacos: chicken mole, hickory-smoked pork, and portobello, and all three are pretty flawless as far as tacos go. All of the profits from the pop-up will be donated to the organ restoration project.
They’re planning on adding menu items from time to time, to make use of the smoker they installed for the season. Rancourt laughed recounting how it took four men at least an hour to drag the enormous smoker they’re using up the steps and into the yard of the church. “It’s huge enough to roast a whole pig, so at some point we’ll probably change up the menu” he says.
The San Damiano Mission is relatively new to the area, having moved into the Greenpoint church in February of 2015. “We were asked to reach out to a new demographic,” explains Brother Nick Spano, one of San Damiano’s friars. “People who feel that they don’t have a place, people who want to come back to the church but aren’t quite sure how.” While a great many restorations have been done in the last year to the church itself, the organ is completely out of commission. “The organ is the biggest thing,” says Brother Nick. “It’s the most community based, and not only would we like to use it for masses, but also for lessons, for artists, and for it to allow the church to serve as a performance space.”
The restoration of an instrument of this stature costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. The San Damiano Mission organ is a 1931 rebuild of a 1912 organ, and is need of everything from a new blower to intricate wiring for the keys. Its restoration is even listed as a historical project under the American Guild Of Organists. “Once we get the funds, the restoration project will take about 10 months,” explains Brother Nick. “There are many pieces of the organ that need to be removed, and thankfully we’ve already got some volunteers from the nearby Brooklyn Athletic Club lending us a hand.”
The pipes the church is installing are actually refurbished pipes from 1860 from a nearby church on Kent Street, so from fundraising, to volunteering, to physical pieces of the instrument, it’s all being kept in the family, so to speak.
Holy Smoke will be open from 2-9 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the summer, and potentially even Friday evenings depending on the turnout. Rancourt and his team have some great stuff planned (including guest DJs and musical performances in partnership with The Lot Radio, located next door), so stop by and indulge in some excellent food and excellent company for an excellent cause. Cash only.