Halkias, who was 82, purchased the Park Slope property in 1981 after a career in areas including publishing, the travel business and real estate. The former German opera house that caught his eye needed a lot of work. His family said Halkias sold all of his real estate to buy the building and lavishly restore it, converting it into a catering facility with a new name, the Grand Prospect Hall.
They created a "42,000 square foot catering facility featuring lovingly and painstakingly restored fin de siecle spaces crowned by the grand staircase" where Halkias and his wife and business partner, Alice, appeared in the commercials, proclaiming "we make your dreams come true."
The ads became a beloved piece of New York pop culture, much like regional commercials for Carvel ice cream featuring Tom Carvel, or Perdue Chicken, starring Frank Perdue. The memorable ads turned the facility into one that was widely known in the region.
"Together they ran the establishment for 39 years, making realities of the dreams of many brides and grooms and delighted parents, hosting baptisms, bar mitzvahs, graduations, and other milestones for children of all backgrounds and ethnic groups in multicultural Brooklyn and the wider New York area come true," the family said in a news release.
Halkias was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was especially proud of his family's roots in the Greek island of Chios, and his philanthropy extended to helping the Greek community, his family said.
Halkias' survivors include his wife and three children.
Among those paying tribute was State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who tweeted: "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. May his memory be eternal."
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