Artist thrives by building models of popular Brooklyn restaurants, stores

March 10, 2022 Jaime DeJesus
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A longtime Brooklyn resident is creating art inspired by popular neighborhood storefronts.

Jack Giambanco has been making models of popular Brooklyn restaurants and food businesses, such as Brennan and Carr, 3432 Nostrand Ave., and A&S Fine Foods Meat Market, aka A&S Pork Store, 361 Avenue X, out of earth-friendly plastic derived from corn, using computer-aided design.

Giambanco, who grew up in Carroll Gardens in the late 1970s, came up with the idea during the pandemic when he saw many local beloved businesses shut down or struggle to remain open. 

“I wanted to honor them with lifelong memories of their stores and neighborhoods,” he said. “These places set the stage for us in our daily lives and leave an impression on us. Just looking at an old favorite store or restaurant in the neighborhood triggers great memories for many of us. And with these little models, I can recapture that feeling for people.”

A recreation of A&S Pork Store as a business-card holder. Photos courtesy of Jack Giambanco
A&S Fine Foods Meat Market, also known as A&S Pork Store, on Avenue X.

The process starts out with Giambanco viewing photos of the establishment. Then, he visualizes the final piece in his mind and lays down a 3D CAD (also known as 3-dimensional computer-aided design) as a model. 

Usually, his creations take an average of 24 hours of work spread across a few days to complete.

“I take into consideration many factors in terms of decal placement, breakdown of signage, awnings and railings,” he explained. “After the model is complete, I begin to design and produce the decals. Once done, the CAD model gets converted into machine-readable codes and sent into production. 3D printers are used to create the parts, then I carefully assemble them.”

The creations have delighted local residents.

He posted photos of his work on the Facebook group Southern Brooklyn Scrapbook, a page dedicated to reminiscing about life and stores in different Brooklyn neighborhoods. He has received more than 1,000 reactions and hundreds of positive feedback. 

“The response to my work has been humbling,” he said. “The look in someone’s eyes when they see one of my pieces they recognize is a gift to me. You can see years of good memories light up their eyes and face. It feels really good.” 

A model of Pia’s Pizzeria, which is no longer there. Jack Giambanco recreated it from photos. Photos courtesy of Jack Giambanco

Giambanco’s favorite buildings include places he has visited since he was a child and have interesting signage. He also likes places that have a unique story to them. 

“I have just completed a pizzeria where the owner passed and the daughter wanted a recreation of it,” he said. “She spent her childhood there and had fond memories. I asked her for a photo of her dad behind the counter. And added him in the window of the model. She was moved by it and asked for more to be made for the rest of her family.

“My inspiration has always been humanity,” he said. “I think our basic human instinct is to want to be a value in others’ lives. And that comes through in the work I do.”

Brennan & Carr on Nostrand Avenue, famous for its hot roast beef.
Brennan & Carr on Nostrand Avenue, famous for its hot roast beef. Photos courtesy of Jack Giambanco

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