The Crazy Donkey has been put out to pasture.
After about a decade in business, the Farmingdale-based nightclub closed its doors Monday night. A “Space Available” sign hung high on the façade Tuesday, replacing the spot where the venue’s namesake donkey head once smiled down on Route 110. The last show Sunday featured Pepper, a west coast reggae/ska band.
“Times are tough and they had to close the doors,” said Rick Eberle, spokesman for the Crazy Donkey. He cited the economic downturn for the owners’ decision.
Five shows booked at the Crazy Donkey next month and beyond are canceled.
The Donkey, as it was colloquially known, had become one of the more prominent venues for bands in the Long Island music scene and underground national acts not big enough to draw a crowd that would fill Nassau Coliseum or NYCB Theatre at Westbury.
It succeeded the defunct Downtown Bar & Grill in Farmingdale, which had been the incubator for some of the Island’s last breakout bands, including Taking Back Sunday and Brand New.
Its closure comes just as The Paramount, a newly renovated music hall in downtown Huntington, is slated to open its doors next week. Rusted Root will play a soft opening at the New York Avenue venue Wednesday, Sept. 28.
“Certain shows sometimes do well and sometimes don’t do well,” Eberle said. “It’s a complicated business plan, there was more stuff going on at the Donkey besides the rock shows. There were dance nights and that sort of thing, so I guess everyone is a little bit to blame for not enough profit coming in to warrant them keeping the doors open.”
He said the venue will likely be gutted, renovated and turned into a restaurant sometime next year.
“I can’t wait to see what they’re going to build after they tear down the Crazy Donkey,” said Kaleo Wassman, the guitarist/singer of Pepper between songs at the final show this weekend.
“This is not a joke,” he said after breaking the news to the crowd, although the dancing continued with many in attendance believing the statement to be just that: a stand-up routine.
Afterward, the band described their playing the Crazy Donkey’s grand finale as “bittersweet.”
“We only played there twice, but we feel like residents there,” they said. “It’s just got that special vibe, so it’s a bummer it won’t be around anymore. But, the other side is we’re for sure honored to be the final show and go out with a bang. RIP TO THE DONKEY!”