How Brooklyn Bowl's Founder Took Over the Capitol Theater
00:07 Peter Shapiro: It caused a deep emotional want, I would not let go.
Peter Shapiro has owned several music venues in New York City, including Wetlands and Brooklyn Bowl.
He also wanted to take over the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York--famous for the legendary rock shows it hosted in the 1960s and 1970s.
00:29 Shapiro: So, for the past 15 years, the owner, Marvin Ravikoff bought it in the mid-80s when it was decrepit, and he decided he wanted to operate it as a private space. Many people had come to Marvin to put shows on, concerts on, at the Capitol Theater, but he, since the late '80s and '90s, didn't want to do it. Too much trouble, I'll stick with the nice weddings, lucrative, no risk. Five hundred people, not 1800. And I said that the time is right to bring music back to the Capital Theater and I think I'm the right guy. And I was in a position because I had done well, because I had opened Brooklyn Ball and what happened with Brooklyn Ball, the success of it. I was in a position that I could say, "I'm the right guy" and have something behind me to prove. He said, "Why are you the right guy?"
In 2009, Peter Shapiro entered negotiations with Marvin Ravikoff to lease the Capitol Theater.
The negotiations would last two years.
01:40 Shapiro: Marvin Ravikoff, we're on the theater, didn't need to do a deal. There was no responsibility to any shareholders, investors. He had no mortgage on the building. The deal will have minimal financial impact on his life. He's already a wealthy man, wasn't gonna get a new car after the deal. So, that impacts the tone of the negotiations. He doesn't have to do a deal. I get to that one-yard line, and then something would happen, I move back, not to the sixth but to like the 38th. There were a couple of times he's like, "Peter, you're a good kid but this deal's off, it's dead." And sometimes people would say, "Oh, you should call him out. Walk away from the table and he'll come back to you." And I was always... I'm certain to this day that if I had one or two issues, really challenged him on things, that you would be like, "No, the price is a 100 grand more now, it just is."
02:49 Shapiro: So, we did that literally countless times and I had to earn his trust, and he had to understand my vision and he had to understand where I came from, and he had to understand what I've done before and why I did the things I did before, and why I would do it, and not just understanding my broader vision for the Capitol Theater, but to understand, "How you're gonna do it? Where is your money coming from? How are you gonna convince the town you're ready? How you're gonna get the bands? What are you gonna do to the theater?" He had to buy into giving me his baby, basically.
On December 2, 2011, Shapiro and Ravikoff agreed to a 20-year lease.
03:30 Shapiro: This was the ultimate for me to own a venue with that kind of history and I knew what I felt I could do there. If it had been a normal building, normal venue, this deal would never have happened. I would have walked away, day three out of 700, which was two years. But because there was no other Rock Palace 30 miles from New York City with anything close, that has a material impact on my approach. The challenges in being an entrepreneur of small business, they never end. But I've got the theater and I planned on having it for a long, long time.
After 10 months of renovations, the Capitol Theater became a music venue once again.
On September 4th, 2012, Bob Dylan gave the inaugural performance in the restored concert hall.
Peter plans on holding more than 100 shows a year at the Capitol Theater.