The Emporium, the Patchogue club that’s hosted everyone from Long Island’s own reggae star Shaggy to President Donald Trump, has closed after less than five years in business.
The sudden closing of the club and restaurant put plans for several events, from a West Babylon High School reunion to a Sweet 16 party, in disarray, with organizers forced to look for new venues and hope for the return of deposits.
In recent years, the club had raised concerns in the community. “Over the past two years in particular, the acts they were starting to bring in were coming in later at night and were less compatible to the neighborhood,” said Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri Jr. “They would draw 1,000 people, you mix alcohol in the middle of it and you are going to have the issues that we had. Whether it was drunks in the parking lot, a fight here and there or people who have been drinking for a number of hours then feeding out onto Main Street, it became a problem.”
Multiple calls to Tim Lorito, one of Emporium’s owners, were not answered.
The closure has left some people searching for new places to hold events. West Babylon High School’s Class of 1990 paid nearly $24,000 for its 27th year reunion scheduled for May 13.
“The class is devastated. People are canceling flights and hotel rooms,” said co-organizer Joe Dispigno, 45, of West Babylon. “It was going to be an epic party,” said Dispigno. “We missed our 25th, so we were going all out for this thing.”
Organizers paid for the party in three installments, the last delivered in cash on Monday, May 1.“They took it [the last deposit] on Monday and told us [about the closure] on Tuesday,” said Dispigno.
Tami Shine-Wright of Medford said the closing threatened to derail her daughter’s Sweet 16 party scheduled for June 2.
After getting a call from the Emporium on Wednesday alerting her to the closure, Shine-Wright made a flurry of phone calls and managed to find two alternative venues on June 2, she said.
An Emporium representative told her she would receive a refund of her $1,200 deposit on Friday, but later amended the timing to next week, she said.
“I hope they do the right thing and give the money back,” Shine-Wright said.
The Stony Brook University Cancer Center canceled its “Docs Who Rock Battle of the Bands” scheduled for Sunday at the Emporium, said Sarah Bremen, a representative for the center. Tickets will be refunded, she said, and an event will be scheduled later in the year.
Gus Berketis, owner of multiple restaurants including Broadway Diner in Hicksville and Jackson Hall Bar & Grille in East Islip, will be the building’s new tenant.
Berketis, 39, of Hicksville, plans to open a new restaurant/venue combo midsummer. Acts will be more country and rock oriented while the food style is yet to be determined.
“It will be tasteful. We are steering away from a nightclub and more toward a venue/restaurant with a beer garden,” he says. “It’s a neighborhood place.”
Berketis has tried to work with the West Babylon High School reunion and other parties that had been booked.
“Obviously, we have to remain closed for a little while to apply for a liquor license and get everything in order,” said Berketis. I’m going to work with the village to open soon to accommodate some of these catered parties, even at a loss. It’s fine, it’s the cost of business. I don’t mind helping them out. In the end, these are our customers.”