Sections

Controversial Prospect: Owner of Slope’s opulent Hall welcomes NRA event booted from Coney eatery

Took their shot: Owners of Park Slope's Grand Prospect Hall agreed to host an April local National Rifle Association fund-raiser after activists drove the event's organizers out of Coney Island.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

We make your dreams go boom!

The owner of Park Slope’s gilded Grand Prospect Hall agreed to host an April fund-raiser for a local National Rifle Association chapter, inviting Kings County firearm aficionados to the progressive neighborhood weeks after irate gun-control activists ran them out of Coney Island.

And it will take more than bad online reviews and the wrath of vocal politicians for him to back down from the commitment, because breaking the vow by anything other than a court order would be an act of cowardice, according to the man made famous by his televised promise to “make your dreams come true.”

“If I cancel the contract, I’ll be a bad guy — a scared, yellow guy who chickened out,” said Michael “Mr. H” Halkias, who with his wife has owned the Vaudeville theater–turned-venue at 263 Prospect Ave. for 37 years. “I’m not doing anything illegal. Bring me a decision from a judge and everything is resolved, but don’t chase my tail.”

The Brooklyn Friends of the National Rifle Association group originally booked iconic Coney Island eatery Gargiulo’s for its April 12 fund-raiser, but the restaurant’s owners backed out of the deal in the face of a massive backlash from officials including Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Marine Park), Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and state Sen. Diane Savino (D–Coney Island).

That event featured a $50-per-ticket raffle with prizes including a shotgun, two pistols, and two rifles, along with other incentives to trigger donations from locals asked to kick in anything from $300 “Liberty Level” pledges to $5,000 “Patriot Level” sponsorships.

Halkias — who previously told this newspaper he started opening his opulent venue to events beyond traditional weddings and parties in order to pay the rising property taxes on it — said that rifle-association members approached him to host their fund-raiser before going to the Coney Island Italian joint, and chose to take their business “down the road” to Gargiulo’s after learning the cost to reserve Grand Prospect Hall’s lavish 19th-century ballroom was too steep.

But after the Coney restaurateurs deemed hosting the gun lobby’s event too controversial, the members brought their business back to Halkias, who said he agreed to slash his fee and match whatever the Italian restaurant quoted because he wanted to help the group out.

“For me its not ‘the NRA,’ it’s a bunch of nice people from Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst who were screwed for no real reason,” he said. “I dropped my price to accommodate — I do that all the time. People who have money, I want to get my price. People who don’t have money I will be accommodat­ing.”

Halkias, a Bay Ridge resident and former gun owner, said he thought the rifle association manufactured firearms until he read a history of the group on its website, which impressed the hall owner with its stated mission of teaching young people how to safely operate guns, he said.

“I see that they’re do-gooders,” said Halkias. “They are looking to train the young people, to teach them how to use weapons.”

The businessman claimed he’s already discussed his decision with some critics who’ve blasted it online and over the phone, but professed no political qualms with the rifle association or its Brooklyn members, saying that if hosting them leads to a backlash that hurts his bottom line, he’ll close Grand Prospect Hall, sell the more than century-old venue, and kick back and watch as locals fret over the condos likely to rise in its wake.

“I am not allowed to have an opinion? I have to shut up and let people tell me what to do?” Halkias said. “If they want Grand Prospect Hall to be here, those that love it, they have to make sure people don’t ruffle my feathers. I can take it, but there’s a point where you crack up and say, ‘Hell, let me go on vacation.’ ”

An e-mail sent to ticket holders informed them of the change in venue, and implored the gun advocates to spread the word among sympathizers because the rifle association would “not be advertising,” according to the message.

“We need everyone to try to encourage friends to join us in this fight to keep both our First and Second Amendments alive,” read the e-mail provided to the Brooklyn Paper by a ticket holder who requested anonymity.

But pistol packers attending the event shouldn’t expect a quiet evening at the old theater, as activists are already planning to protest outside the venue if it goes through with hosting the fund-raiser, according to a Windsor Terrace resident.

“The NRA is effectively a terrorist organizati­on,” said Wrolf Courtney. “I very much plan on protesting this. They’re definitely going to see a few people there if they hold this event.”

And the local councilman, along with a handful of other officials, implored Halkias to reconsider hosting the event, promising more demonstrations if the gun show goes on.

“Rest assured, we are prepared to protest if the NRA comes into our community on any day,” said Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander in a joint statement with Borough President Adams, state Sen. Kevin Parker (D–Kensington), Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D–Park Slope), and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D–Brooklyn Heights).

The rifle-association supporters staging the event, however, have nothing to do with the politically active arm of the organization, according to its local field rep Greg Decer, who claimed that none of the money raised at the Brooklyn bash would go towards lobbying.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:47 pm, July 9, 2018: Grand Prospect Hall owner Michael Halkias announced the National Rifle Association released him from his obligation to host the event following the publication of this story, an earlier version of which was updated after incorrectly identifying Halkias as a Greek immigrant.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Blake Morris from Flatbush says:
Call to complain and boycott
Mr. Michael Halkias
General Manager
Grand Prospect Hall
263 Prospect Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Phone : 718-788-0777
Website : grandprospecthall.com
Email : info@grandprospecthall.com
March 19, 5:06 pm
Blake Morris from Flatbush says:
The National Rifle Association (NRA) SELLS NO WEAPONS!.
It is a membership advocacy organization that is a front for the gun manufacturers.
Part of the difficulties of sensible gun responsibility advocacy is the lack of clarity of language and the identity of the parties involved.
The NRA has 5 million members with modest dues. That membership base is incapable of supporting all the advocacy and lobbying that the NRA does. It pays its executive director 5 million dollars a year alone.
It is just a front for the gun manufacturers also known as the original equipment manufacturers (OEM).
A Manhattan and Greenwich, CT hedge fund manager Stephen A. Feinberg is the secretive financier and founder of Cerberus Capital Management parent of Freedom Group — now renamed Remington Outdoors.
Feinberg controls 80% of the gun OEM in this country.
So the real fight is with one hedge fund manager, everything else is a smoke screen.
Yes, you are correct, the business model is high anxiety and never ending purchase of more and better and faster and lethal weaponry to prime the pump of a domestic arms race.
That is what is going on. Corporate news organizations are not reporting any of this and neither are our elected officials including Democrats.
Now you know. Spread the word. If you have questions let me know.
Big Gun’s Big Fail November 15, 2016

A secretive Manhattan billionaire’s dreams of creating America’s foremost firearms empire.
By Stephen Witt
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/a-billionaires-dreams-of-creating-a-guns-empire.html
March 19, 5:06 pm
All Nuts from Sunset Park says:
Your all nuts! Nothing wrong with anyone hosting a perfectly legal event for a perfectly legal cause.

The criminals here will be the protesters!

That's the problem with NYC, people don't respect others rights and opinions. The country votes for a president, and what does NYC do, they protest the vote.

Ov vey
March 19, 7:36 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Peaceful protest is not against the law.
March 19, 8:01 pm
Susan P from Park Slope says:
This isn't protesting, it's harassment.

All Nuts is right. A legit club and a ligit restaurant shouldn't be harassed.

Protest all you want at City Hall to change laws you don't agree with. If you get the change, fine, if you don't, accept it and move on. But you shouldn't harass the winners.

This is the basis of a civilized society.
March 19, 8:02 pm
Sam Himmlstein from Windsor Terrace says:
Shame on you for hosting this American terrorist organization that is complicit in the murder of American children. I will be at the demonstration /picket line and will urge everyone I know to boycott you. Choices have consequences.
March 19, 8:17 pm
Frank from Bay Ridge says:
This is a private affair. How does this get leaked?
March 19, 9:32 pm
Robert from Park Slope says:
The Grand Prospect Hall hosts lots of proms for elementary and middle schools in the neighborhood. It seems unconscionable for them to host an event for an organization that fights to put assault rifles in the hands of the killers of school children. Because this is exactly what the NRA does when it blocks even the most minor, and least intrusive gun regulations designed to support law enforcement and keep our communities and schools safe.
March 19, 9:57 pm
Phillip from Bay Ridge says:
Just read the Hall backed out....just the gun nuts have to find another place to meet.
March 19, 11:05 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
The right of the people to peacefully assemble has been abridged.
March 20, 7:11 am
Josh from Bay ridge says:
Well, at least the protesters should be peaceful.
March 20, 7:45 am
Fred from Windsor Terrace says:
The NRA is a extremist group that functions as a criminal’s lobby. Advocating in favor of armor piercing ammunition, exploding head rounds, and military grade weapons for the general public are just the tip of the iceberg.
March 20, 8:27 am
Tyler from pps says:
Rufus -- No, their ability to rent a meeting space from a local business was hampered by the free market.

If the NRA wants to get a permit from the city, I'm sure they can assemble as much as they want... And others can assemble right next to them. They could probably have their lovely gun raffle right in the street. Maybe they could get a location right in front of a school for extra impact.
March 20, 9:55 am
JD from Gravesend says:
I'm an NRA Life Member.
Do all y'all agree with EVERYTHING the President or any member or branch of government does at all times? No? Seriously...no?
THEN STOP PAINTING ALL NRA MEMBERS WITH THE SAME BRUSH YA BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES!
Just like you, not all NRA members agree with everything the club says or does. We too have opportunities during elections to vote those we dislike out...just like we do for government officials. Sometimes the Chuck Schumers and Bill DeBlasios of the NRA keep getting elected...we have to patiently wait for the majority to see it our way too.
So please, quit yer whining an' belly achin' and move on to your next group of folks to hate on.
DILLIGAF
March 20, 11:07 am
Boo from Hoo says:
^^^Look At This Snowflake^^
"I'm an NRA Life Member."
-That's your problem, loser!
March 20, 11:34 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
It's very unfortunate that the NRA has the tendency to always cry foul whenever there is a call to guns from anyone who is dangerous. Then again, some of those shooters are probably NRA members themselves, which is why they have the tendency to act so defensive on that. They need to understand is that nobody is trying to make sure nobody has a gun, just those who are the most dangerous. That was the very reason for the Brady Bill even though Regan was never for it and it wasn't even passed until Clinton became president. Another thing they have to understand is that US constitutional rights aren't absolute, which is what the US Supreme Court case Shcenk v US ruled back in 1917, so there are limits even with certain rights and liberties.
March 20, 3:42 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
^^who the f is regan?^^
March 20, 3:44 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter:

Optional: