Bittersweet Recollections of Grand Prospect Corridor


The Grand Prospect Corridor in Park Slope, Brooklyn, has hosted numerous weddings since 1903, when it was rebuilt following a hearth in 1900 that destroyed the unique construction erected in 1892. However for a few of the {couples} who celebrated marriages on the Victorian-style banquet corridor, which grew its repute with long-running TV adverts, their reminiscences are actually bittersweet.

The corridor closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. It was later offered after its then co-owner Michael Halkias, who ran the venue together with his spouse Alice Halkias, died that Could from issues of Covid.

The constructing’s new proprietor, Angelo Rigas, a contractor, intends to demolish it. Town’s Buildings Division issued demolition permits for the location on Nov. 3, public information present, weeks after a proper request for analysis with the Landmarks Preservation Fee was denied in September.

Invoice Farrell, a consultant for Rigas, stated there may be at the moment no timeline in place for the demolition, however confirmed that the constructing can be demolished. The allow to knock down the construction expires in Could 2022, however could possibly be renewed to increase the expiration date, a consultant for the Buildings Division stated.

Talking to 5 {couples} who had been married or held receptions at Grand Prospect Corridor, some lamented in regards to the considered by no means having the ability to see it or present it to their children. However all stated the venue and its many ornate particulars will stay intact of their reminiscences.

The couple weren’t positive the place to have their marriage ceremony reception in Brooklyn, deliberate for April 24, 1954. Mr. Drobnicki’s father, Ignatius, provided what proved to be an apt suggestion: “Why not Grand Prospect Corridor? It’s great,” Ms. Drobnicki, 92, recalled her father-in-law saying. (Her husband died in 2010.)

Ignatius, a Polish immigrant, was accustomed to the corridor: His two older sons, Bruno and Stanley, had their marriage ceremony receptions there in 1945, in keeping with Ms. Drobnicki and her son, John.

And because the proprietor of Emerson Bakery, which stood at Emerson Place and DeKalb Avenue in Clinton Hill for greater than 20 years, Ignatius ceaselessly made truffles for different native Polish {couples} who received married at Grand Prospect Corridor, added Ms. Drobnicki, who lives in Queens.

When she and her husband-to-be made their first go to to the corridor, “it simply felt like house,” she stated.

The pair married in a Catholic ceremony at St. John the Baptist church in Bedford-Stuyvesant earlier than heading to Grand Prospect Corridor with 159 visitors, in keeping with Ms. Drobnicki.

Dessert, made by Ignatius, was among the many night’s highlights: “The cake, after all, was scrumptious, as a result of Pop made it,” Ms. Drobnicki stated.

Of the venue, she added, “I didn’t assume it was ornate in any respect. I simply thought it was homey.”

Its seemingly destruction, Ms. Drobnicki stated, is “simply very unhappy as a result of it was all the time such a beautiful place for folks to recollect their marriage ceremony day.”

The pitch that the Fraggettas acquired from Mr. Halkias was completely different from those they received on the different venues that they had visited.

He regaled the couple with tales of the storied constructing’s historical past as an opera home and a speakeasy whose Prohibition-era patrons included Al Capone.

As Ms. Fraggetta, 41, put it: “It wasn’t the cookie-cutter marriage ceremony corridor like we had been used to going to.”

Once they ascended the staircase that result in the grand ballroom, which boasted balconies and 45-foot-high ceilings, “there was an enormous ‘wow issue,’” Mr. Fraggetta, 44, stated. “It appeared like one thing out of a historical past e-book.”

Most of the 250 visitors at their Nov. 7, 2008, marriage ceremony reception had related reactions, he added. “Lots of people commented that while you see the Grand Prospect Corridor from the road, it doesn’t seem like a lot,” he stated. However stepping inside “made that wow issue that rather more intense.”

The Fraggettas now reside in Rockville, Md., however return to New York ceaselessly to go to household. They had been hoping their three youngsters would in the future have the identical expertise once they lastly visited.

“From the surface, it’s a darkish cement constructing — in order that they’re like, ‘Oh, you guys received married there?’” Ms. Fraggetta stated.

The Collados grew up in two completely different states — she in Pennsylvania, he in New York — however each stated they bear in mind the favored commercials for Grand Prospect Corridor taking part in on their televisions.

First filmed in 1986, the commercials featured Mr. Halkias and Ms. Halkias talking over orchestral music from the corridor’s staircase and, in some, providing a promise to “make your goals come true.” Within the years they aired, the adverts had been spoofed on “Saturday Night time Stay” and featured in a “Jimmy Kimmel Stay” skit.

Mr. Collado, 31, and Ms. Collado, 34, by no means thought they’d have their marriage ceremony there; she known as the commercials “tacky.”

However when she visited the corridor — the final place on her record — she discovered it “gorgeous.”

“As quickly as you stroll in, you’re greeted with this gold and white staircase,” Ms. Collado stated.

The couple had 200 visitors at their marriage ceremony reception on April 11, 2015, which adopted a ceremony at St. Matthias Church in Ridgewood, Queens, the place they now reside. The meals served on the corridor, pierogi with paella and empanadas, glad each households, they stated. (She is Polish, he’s Latino.)

“It shouldn’t be demolished given the historical past,” Mr. Collado stated.

“The structure is past; they’ve a complete yard with just a little waterfall, it was lovely,” Ms. Collado added. “The day I learn that it was going to presumably be demolished, I known as Rafael. I stated, ‘It’s unhappy.’”

Rising up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Mr. Melidoneas knew from a younger age that his household had a particular connection to, as he put it, the person who appeared on TV promoting his banquet corridor in Park Slope.

Mr. Halkias had helped his grandparents acquire their American citizenship after they first arrived in Brooklyn from Greece within the 1960s, stated Mr. Melidoneas, 37.

When the time got here for him and Ms. Melidoneas to plan their marriage ceremony, they had been each stunned to be taught that, not like the administration of different venues they visited, the Halkiases would enable them to mild a small, contained hearth contained in the corridor as part of their Hindu ceremony. (Ms. Melidoneas is Hindu and Mr. Melidoneas is Greek Orthodox.)

The custom, generally known as saat phere, requires the bride and groom to encircle a hearth seven occasions, sharing vows with every lap. “Different venues weren’t a fan,” stated Ms. Melidoneas, 33. “It was form of like, ‘Do it outdoors or don’t do it in any respect.’”

The couple had been married at Grand Prospect Corridor Oct. 20, 2012, with some 150 to 200 visitors in attendance.

They now reside in Miami, however on a September journey to go to Mr. Melidoneas’s household in Brooklyn, they drove by the constructing, as they usually do once they’re within the space.

“It was all boarded up,” Mr. Melidoneas stated. “It was unhappy to see that.”

When Ms. Morgan, 37, received engaged to the Rev. Morgan in 2008, she wished to have “one of the best marriage ceremony folks ever attended.”

A part of her plan was to evoke the opulence of the 1920s on the reception, with a “The Nice Gatsby” theme.

The Rev. Morgan, 39, instructed they take into account Grand Prospect Corridor. Ms. Morgan had “by no means heard of it,” she stated, regardless of dwelling just a few blocks away on the time, on Third Avenue and 15th Road, and rising up in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

However when she noticed the grand ballroom on a go to, she cried tears of happiness, she stated. “That is precisely what I wished,” Ms. Morgan recalled considering.

Reserving the ballroom — which may accommodate as much as 1,700 folks — sometimes required greater than the 175 visitors the couple had on their record. However the Halkiases allow them to use it for his or her July 17, 2009, marriage ceremony reception anyway, the couple stated.

The Morgans, who reside in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, now wish to level out the constructing to their 3-year-old son once they drive by.

“The reminiscences are there, and I’m grateful now we have the reminiscences,” the Rev. Morgan stated.

However he was dissatisfied that the reminiscences are most likely all they’ve left. “It’s like a bit of us goes with it,” he stated.

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