A little slice of Paradise
I thought it was about time I get out of Los Angeles and see another city’s movie palaces upfront. I don’t get out of town too much these days so I had to make the most of my trip to New York last weekend. Scheduling came together perfectly though and I happened to be going into the Bronx Monday morning, a perfect time to stop by the newly renovated Paradise Theater.
The Paradise is one of the five Loew’s Wonder Theaters, grandiose palaces all built in 1929-1930 to serve as the chain’s New York flagship theaters. With the exception of the still shuttered Kings, the other three had been operating in some capacity for a while. Many believed the Paradise’s end could come tragically with so little life coming out of it for years. Then, in 2005, an aggressive renovation restored the treasure to its former glory.
With the Grand Concourse not being the entertainment hub of the Bronx it once was, it certainly has its hurdles. Once a perfect central location, the tight, traffic-consumed Bronx streets make it not the easiest place to visit nowadays. Throw on the fact that many outside the boroughs don’t even view the Bronx as a nightlife destination, instead thinking of New York City as only Manhattan, and you see what the theatre is up against.
Despite this and other factors, the Paradise has been slowly gaining ground. What at first was a spotty schedule of events now with new management is a constantly progressing lineup of shows, concerts and sporting events. And they’re not stopping there. They aim to make the Paradise on par with Radio City and with newly added luxuries like skyboxes and a full-service restaurant, an even more glamorous entertainment destination.
CT: The theatre was closed down for a while. Why now has it come back into action?
PAR: Only 2 years ago did we finally get the million of dollars in investments to restore the theatre to how it looked in 1929. It now looks better than it ever did.
CT: How has the public reaction been so far? Attendance?
PAR: People are really enjoying it. The Bronx Borough President has even stopped by. The latest concert sold out immediately and more are being booked all the time. We have more coming in the next few months than we had all of the first year. I can’t tell you how many people have come in and told me about their first dates they had here and stuff. When Beyonce shot her latest video on this stage, she couldn’t believe that this amazing theater was here. So many have discovered it only now.
CT: What have you done lately to add to the theatre?
PAR: We want to make a trip here a full evening of entertainment. A first-class restaurant is opening soon. We have a fully-functioning kitchen and a chef on board. The bathrooms are new as well. We’re also adding skyboxes to attract a higher-end crowd. We can even modify the stage so we can have a 1,000 person sitdown dinner.
CT: What events do you planned?
PAR: We’re working with VH1 Soul to bring Tyrese in next week. That will be a huge event. Star Boxing is very big for us too. Many deals with major A-List acts are in the works.
CT: How has lack of parking been an effect?
PAR: There are three parking facilities nearby so that hasn’t been a problem. We’re going to start a towncar service as well to provide complimentary transportation to and from the theatre to anyone within a ten mile radius. We want to bring back the old days taking a night out on the town.
CT: One of the Paradise’s sister theaters, the Kings in Brooklyn, is currently not operating and entertaining proposals to reopen. What advice would you give them?
PAR: Bring in events. People like live entertainment.
CT: Where would you like to see this theatre in five years?
PAR: We want the Paradise to be the #1 concert theater in the entire New York area. We want people to come here and enjoy themselves.
Thank you to Elliot Hurdy and Luz Mejia from the Paradise Theater for allowing the interviews and showing me around the place. Also, thanks for submitting the photo. Have a great weekend everyone!
We encourage you to share your thoughts on the subject. For comments on the article or the blog itself, feel free to email me. We’re also open to any suggestions for future columns!
Are tours available to the public? I will be in New York in August and would love to see this gem.
I remember going to this theater to watch movies in the 70’s/80’s. It had seen better days, but it was still a beautiful place – even after all the years of neglect. I haven’t been in the area for a while but really hope that this is the beginning of Fordham Road’s revival.
Tours are open to the public. Call 718.220.6143 for more information.
Good news the LOEWS KINGS is to be redone and reopen in 2014 if all goes well.Good luck to them.