Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
Tony Carracci's life revolves around water.
Tony's parents met in Seattle, where his mom was from. His dad, who is from from New Orleans, met his mom up north during a stint in the Merchant Marines. When they were expecting their first child, Tony, the young couple decided to relocate to another port town: San Francisco, away from the cold and rain of Seattle and the heat and mugginess in New Orleans.
Tony did most of his growing up in the 1960s and early '70s in The City, and he shares some of his impressions of that era. He played baseball, football, and soccer, and excelled at sports in general. But because he had a hard time sitting still and focussing for a long time, school wasn't Tony's favorite.
He graduated and left home in the mid-'70s. He worked in the now-defunct SF shipyards but hated it. He moved up to Portland (yet another port town!) for a couple years, started working in kitchens, and started doing hair and make-up. Then he went farther north, to his mom's hometown of Seattle. But a girl he met there and started dating got a job back in The City, and Tony decided that it was his chance to come home.
After restaurant jobs here and there, Tony learned about a new restaurant in the Haight that needed an opening chef. That place was Cha Cha Cha.
Tony spends the last part of Part 1 talking about Haight Street and South of Market back in the day. He ends with the story of opening the Cat Club.
In Part 2, Tony talks about closing his kitchen inside the Cat Club and using that space instead as a second dance floor. It was around this time that the '80s-themed night 1984 started.
But Tony wanted a live-music venue. He found a spot in Hunter's Point that happened to have a kitchen, and so, The Pound SF was born. After running that place for a few years, Tony left and, after not doing much "for a minute," he became a wedding planner. In his mind, it has a lot in common with running a restaurant or a club.
Fast-forward to 2017. He had been living in Marin since the mid-1990s, and, as a food person, was always making sauces. One day, he noticed an empty storefront and "inquired within." While he awaited permits to do food in the space, he acquired a food truck, and, inspired by David Bowie's last LP, named it Black Star Bakehouse and Smokery.
Tony's story of meeting his partner, Suzie Vasko, coincides with his discovery of Point San Pablo Harbor. Tony would take the Black Star truck to the harbor and he had just won best food truck in Marin when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In the summer of 2020, the harbormaster told Tony that Nobilis, a restaurant down on the water, was closing and that Tony's barbecue would be a perfect fit.
Suzie shares the story of their meeting, and the two end the podcast talking about opening Black Star Pirate BBQ.
The restaurant is open for takeout from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. They of course hope to reopen once it's safe and legal to do so. Please support them if you can—the food and location are truly special.
We recorded this podcast at Black Star Pirate BBQ in Point San Pablo Harbor in December 2020.