PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Business owners in downtown Peekskill were not entirely surprised by news that the Paramount Center for the Arts will close its doors due to financial struggles.
“Everybody is very concerned,” said Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Deb Milone, who was notified of the closing Wednesday. “The restaurants that have spoken to me are concerned. The Inn on the Hudson, which has rooms set aside for the artists, is concerned because they now have to sell these rooms at the 11th hour. So right now, it’s all in flux.”
Milone said the news was not a shock, since she knew the venue was struggling.
“We had known there were (financial) issues – there was a fundraising drive, there were concerns,” Milone said.
Milone said there will be a meeting sometime next week at the chamber of commerce office with Business Improvement District (BID) members, Peekskill officials and Paramount board members to discuss the future of the theater.
Up the road on South Division Street, BeanRunner Café owner Ted Bitter said that the venue did sometimes bring in small groups of customers to his eatery for big shows. Every bit helps for a small business, he said.
“Every loss to a business is a loss, even five customers,” Bitter said. “It’s kind of devastating, whether it affects my business or not, for the city. And I feel sorry for the people who lost their jobs.”
Bitter said he hoped the Paramount would try to privatize the venue and turn operations over to an entertainment group that may be able to bring in bigger named talent. He also wanted to see more mainstream films played in the theater in additions to the art house films that are regularly shown there in order to keep the theater open more often.
At The Quiet Man Pub on North Division Street, restaurant manager Ray Bermingham said that the Paramount closing would definitely hurt business. Popular groups would bring in large crowds for dinner, he said.
“And at quarter-to-8 (p.m.) there was a giant rush out the door, which was fine, because we were geared toward accommodating them and getting them out in time for the concert,” Bermingham said.
The entire downtown will feel the effects of the Paramount’s closing, he said.
“It’s going to have a bad effect,” he said. “It brought people into the town. It created a lot of traffic and commerce and it’s absolutely going to hurt businesses here.”