Brooklynites are mourning yet another iconic local who died of COVID-19.
Michael Halkias, the owner of the popular and historic Grand Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Ave., died on Wednesday, May 6. He was 82.
He is survived by his wife and three children.
The Grand Prospect Hall is a Brooklyn special event space and venue for weddings, concerts, corporate functions, holiday parties, birthday parties and other special events.
According to the New York Daily News, Halkias and his wife Alice have owned the hall since 1981 and opened it to the public in 1985.
The historic venue has been well known for its famous commercials over the years with the catchphrase, “We make your dreams come true.”
Following the news, locals shared their memories of Halkias and what he meant to the neighborhood.
“We lost a true Brooklyn icon yesterday to this terrible virus,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Peers. “Michael Halkias was a friend. He was a guy who spoke what was on his mind, sometimes not always what others wanted to hear, and at times a bit irreverent. But Michael, who was my friend, supported my work at Community Board 7 and Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow without question. He opened the doors to Grand Prospect Hall whenever I asked – for a public hearing, committee meeting, an event for my youth. He had refreshments waiting for me on arrival. Every time he saw me he would bug me about ‘when are you running for office.’ He was a true gentleman.”
Peers added, “His wife Alice was always the practical one, minding the business side of things. When I returned to Brooklyn last September, he called me right away. When I told him in January the chamber was looking to move a signature event to Grand Prospect Hall, he was elated. I will miss this man greatly. My deepest condolences to Alice and the Halkias family. Michael, you made many dreams come true. And now you may rest my friend.”
State Senator Andrew Gounardes also shared his thoughts.
“Really saddened to hear that Michael Halkias, owner of the Grand Prospect Hall, passed away,” he wrote on Twitter. “He was a man with big vision and an even bigger heart. And of course, he made dreams come true for thousands of people who celebrated at his hall.”
“Really tragic news,” added Councilmember Brad Lander. “Michael Halkias was a one-of-a-kind Brooklyn personality. Can’t count how many events we’ve all attended there, or how many times we got to see his big smile. It’s impossible to measure what this virus is stealing from the life of our city.”
“RIP Michael Halkias,” wrote New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “Your Grand Prospect Hall TV commercials are iconic. You really did make dreams come true for thousands of New Yorkers. We will miss your joy and quintessential Big Apple energy.”
Halkias and his wife Alice also got involved with entertainment and television. One of his last appearances on television was a mock advertisement skit on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” with New York Mets All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso. The video posted on Youtube received more than 45,000 views and received positive comments.
“That’s my aunt and uncle!! Lmao,” wrote one. “Grew up there getting yelled at for running down the hallways.”
Local customers also shared their memories and stories of the local celebrity.
“We were married there 18 years ago,” recalled Gary Sucher. “Our first meeting was the day after 9/11. Of course we talked at length about the attacks. He was so warm and genuine. His (and Alice’s) character only added to the appeal of the Hall.”
“I met him years ago, when I was having drinks with friends in their lovely beer garden.” wrote Amanda Cantrell. “He greeted all the guests at their tables. Of course we were excited to meet him — we had all seen those commercials for years — and he did not disappoint. A true character, and very warm and friendly to boot. My condolences to his family.”
Co-Creator & Administrator of Facebook page South Brooklyn Food & Drink Bianca (Sunshine) Papas also gave her condolences.
“May the proprietor of The Grand Prospect Hall, Michael Halkias, Rest in Eternal Peace,” she wrote. “A charismatic, intelligent & funny Gentleman who was tremendously gracious when I had the occasion to meet him at their historic, iconic and elaborate venue. SBF&D hopes his business continues to prosper in his memory & sends the most Sincere condolences to all who knew and loved him!”