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Music venue Crazy Donkey closes unexpectedly

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 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 the larger Patchogue Theater, or smaller clubs like 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."

According to Todd Shapiro, of Todd Shapiro Associates Public Relations, the owners of The Crazy Donkey are in negotiations with the owners of Canz-a-Citi Roadhouse, a sports-themed restaurant whose waitresses wear short shorts 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. "My phone has not stopped ringing since yesterday. I know this impacts a lot of people's lives . . . 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 2 miles 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."

With Erica Marcus

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