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Kenny's Castaways Closure Marks End of an Era, Music Fans Say

By Andrea Swalec | October 2, 2012 6:48am

GREENWICH VILLAGE — After 45 years in business, the Bleecker Street rock club Kenny's Castaways prepared to host its last concert Monday night and say goodbye to a piece of Greenwich Village music history.

As the club at 157 Bleecker St. got ready Monday evening to host rockers The Smithereens and guitarist Willie Nile, people who had come to the club for decades called its closure another blow to Manhattan's live-music scene. 

Smithereens singer Pat DiNizio, who first performed at the club in 1980, said he was mourning the loss of a "second home." He added that Kenny's closure was as important as that of the legendary Bowery punk club CBGB. 

"This is another of the rock clubs that have disappeared," he said. "This is like putting the period at the end of the sentence." 

The late Patrick Kenny opened the club in 1967, offering a stage for a bevy of now-famous artists including Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Buckley, Phish, Aerosmith and The Fugees. 

Artist Arthur Miller, who traveled from York, Maine, to attend Kenny's final send-off, called the closure "another nail in the coffin" for the New York rock scene. 

"The joints in Manhattan used to have a little character," said Miller, 55. "Now all the grit from decades in the making is getting cleaned up." 

Bleecker Street resident Judy Cleary, 71, said she was sad to see a family-run business shut its doors. 

"It's been a wonderful place to come. You're always welcome," she said. "There's nothing left in this area." 

Austin O'Malley, who was a bartender at Kenny's from 1992 to 2004, came down from Boston for "the final send-off."

"This was always a launching place for new bands," he said. "Hopefully new artists will still have someplace else to go."

Owner Maria Kenny called the closure "bittersweet."

"Tonight is sad but it's going to be a very fitting tribute," said Kenny, adding that she is considering opening another music venue.

"We're going to try possibly, in the future, doing something. Maybe not in Manhattan," she said. She added that she is moving out of her residential space above the bar to an apartment in the Bronx.

In July, Community Board 2 approved an application by restauranteur Sergio Riva of the Meatpacking District restaurant The Diner for a music venue and eatery at the address tentatively named Carroll Place. 

"The concept is American bistro and wine bar with a lot of Italian dishes," said Riva, whose bid for the location was first reported by DNAinfo.com New York.

Riva was planning live music four nights a week inside the 2,500-square-foot space. The board committee's approval of a liquor license at the venue was contingent on musical acts finishing by 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.