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Crazy Donkey shuts down

The Crazy Donkey Bar and Grill in Farmingdale,

The Crazy Donkey Bar and Grill in Farmingdale, one of the Long Island music scene's best-known concert venues for years, has shut down, stunning employees and fans alike. (Sept. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

The Crazy Donkey Bar and Grill in Farmingdale, one of the Long Island music scene's best-known concert venues for years, has shut down, stunning employees and fans alike.

Promoters are currently scrambling to place the Donkey's full slate of fall shows, which includes up-and-comers Circa Survive on Oct. 25 and Kiss' Ace Frehley on Oct. 29, in other Long Island venues, perhaps Mulcahy's, the larger Patchogue Theater or smaller clubs Ollie's Point in Amityville and the Vibe Lounge in Rockville Centre. Rescheduling and refund details have not been finalized.

“It was a shock,” said Rick Eberle, spokesman for Club Loaded, the promoter that booked the bulk of the concerts into the Crazy Donkey. “[Co-owner Gus Semertgis, Jr.] told us after Sunday night's Pepper show.”

Semertgis said he is in the middle of a deal to turn The Crazy Donkey – which was home to hundreds of shows, ranging from local heroes Taking Back Sunday and Brand New to rapper KRS-One and “Dancing With the Stars'” Mark Ballas and Derek Hough over the years – into “an exciting new venture.” He said he could not discuss it until the deal was finalized, though plans for the space, which have come together in the past 10 days, will not include live music, adding that it would be more of a “sports-bar, food-related” venue.

According to Todd Shapiro, founder of Todd Shapiro Associates Public Relations, Semertgis is in negotiations with Canz-a-Citi Roadhouse, a sports-themed restaurant whose comely waitresses wear Daisy Dukes and tight black tank tops. Shapiro, a spokesman for Canz, said that a deal should be finalized in the next 30 days.

“It was a passion of mine – doing the shows,” said Semertgis, who opened the Crazy Donkey in 2002 as a mix of live shows and dance parties. “My phone has not stopped ringing since yesterday. There have been so many people saying, 'Thank you for giving us a place.' I know this impacts a lot of people's lives and I'm not happy about it. But nothing lasts forever.”

Canz, with a possible VH1 reality show in the works and locations in Westbury, Patchogue and Astoria, has made no secret of its desire to challenge Hooters in the sports-bar-restaurant-scantily-clad-waitress arena. The Crazy Donkey location is less than two miles away from Hooters in Farmingdale.

Joining forces with a growing company made more sense as the concert business has gotten tougher, Semertgis said, adding that the club struggled with lower attendance due to the economy and higher insurance rates and rent. “We can't really pass those costs on to the customers if they're not coming in,” Semertgis said, adding that he had been hopeful that the arrival of the Paramount Theatre in Huntington would help raise interest in concert-going in the area. “Owning a nightclub isn't what it used to be.,. When this deal came along, I knew it was time to pull the plug.”

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