Michael Halkias, owner of the iconic, eclectic Park Slope event space the Grand Prospect Hall, has died from COVID-19. He was 82 years old. Greek publication Anamniseis first reported the news.
Halkias has owned the renowned hall, located at 263 Prospect Avenue between Fifth and Sixth avenues, with his wife, Alice Halkias, since 1981, NY1 reports. Many New Yorkers were familiar with the duo through a memorable Grand Prospect Hall TV commercial that featured the couple and aired nonstop for years on local stations across the metropolitan area. Saturday Night Live even parodied the commercial in 2019.
“He was a man with big vision and an even bigger heart,” state Sen. Andrew Gounardes tweeted on Wednesday evening. “And of course, he made dreams come true for thousands of people who celebrated at his hall.”
The opulent, over-the-top space — built in 1892 — is a national historical landmark and was the first electrified commercial building in Brooklyn, according the building’s website. American Express has filmed a commercial in the space, fashion magazine Vogue staged a photo shoot there, and the Grand Prospect Hall has been featured in movies including The Royal Tenenbaums and Francis Ford Coppola’s Cotton Club. It also served as a well-known music venue, hosting a variety of festivals and concerts, including Arcade Fire’s fifth album release party in 2017.
In 2015, the couple opened the Brooklyn Bavarian Biergarten, a seasonal, German-American outdoor restaurant and bar, next to the event space. The sprawling beer garden features a waterfall, terraces, and enough room to seat 500 people in the garden, with additional interior “Glass House” that could sit another 500 people.
New York City’s restaurant and hospitality industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Longstanding industry leaders, including top chef Floyd Cardoz and Joseph Migliucci, the owner of legendary Bronx red-sauce restaurant Mario’s, have died in recent weeks due to the novel coronavirus.