East End Cafe, in September 2006Opened in 1987…the porch was added years later. I personally didn't hang out at the East End that much during my '94 - '95 UD bar year, but I did very much like the place. Nice and chill, true college town (dare I say bohemian?) vibe, and gotta support any place that gives solid stage time to local acts.
Acoustic local legend? No contest: Larry Roney. Larry was a hippie sort of dude; shoulder length brown hair, and beard. For at least a five year run from '88 - '93 (and probably years thereafter), Larry was THE East End regular on ½ price Nacho Night Wednesdays. With his acoustic guitar and harmonica around his neck, he did a great job with exactly what you’d expect; Don McLean, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, etc. (Oh, and he sometimes played the Scrounge!)
Then, on March 1st, 2010, the shocking news broke on Facebook, “East End really is closing after tonight.”
As Ryan Cormier reported the day after, “After 22 years as one of Newark’s most popular watering holes and live music venues, the bar’s co-owner, Scott MacAllister, decided he was losing too much money and pulled the plug, telling employees and customers it would be the final night for the Main Street landmark.” Ryan’s write-up includes a play-by-play of the East End’s final night, and yes, it was way sad for to see what became a Main Street institution abruptly shut...
…but then, later in 2010, Mojo Main swept in to the location, and 270 East Main Street continued on as a venue for original bands in Newark, Delaware…until it also unfortunately shut in 2014.
As of Summer 2015, the building is being renovated to become Grain Craft Bar+Kitchen (aka “Grain on Main”).
“The East End founders never intended music to be played there. It was first a pizza parlor, and was never made to house live music; for one thing the sound was not contained by the very thin glass on all the windows they used to have. A few local guitar players started playing on Sunday at the corner table where the sound booth is now. They had an open hat for donations, and after a few weeks the staff started putting into the hat themselves and history was born. Still, officially, they only wanted to pay for the host of the open mic on Saturdays, which rotated. That rotation caused a lot of confusion, because the bar didn't have a calendar! Lots of people were getting double-booked for the club's only paying gig.
I can take credit for fixing that. I bought the East End a calendar for 1989 and put it on the wall in the kitchen to the left of the door. Every year new college students want to hear their buddies play, right? Well, that's not how it worked. You could get booked, but that didn't mean you could play. They wanted folk music only. Acoustic only! Again, it was that cheap glass all the way around the building. If you had a drum set, an electric guitar or purple hair…forget it. No punk rock, period. And that included open mic guests. If you were loud, you were off the stage!
That all changed at an open mic I hosted when a band was removed from the stage during their first song. As the host, little 21-year-old me had to be the authority figure and explain that the glass was single pane and conducted sound. The bass player then went outside and broke every single window with his hands. No cuts, the glass was thin. And soon it got cold in the club and it had to close early.
The next day they didn't get new glass, it was cheaper to put in a second wall. Sound still leaked through the part of the roof down near the wall around the building, but it was contained enough for a few band to play there without getting kicked out, notably The Nazarites and Grinch, in that order. No, Grinch was not the first band to play the East End, they were the second to play a full night without getting kicked out. Grinch was very loud their first show at the East End; the owner tried to get the guitar player to turn down, but instead he turned up. They were the perfect example of what was not allowed to happen there. But the guitar player was also the dishwasher, and he was needed the next morning to work the brunch shift…so the band played on! When jam bands and reggae slipped in there, they marketed themselves as supporters of local music.”
- David Muddiman
Owner / Engineer of Starground Audio
“I used to go to East End when it was a pizza shop, back in the '80s. I would go there with some of the boys from the Newark High baseball team...the coach would buy everyone pizza and a pitcher of beer for himself.
After Richie and Gary bought it, it became a great place to see bands. Grinch used to pack it in there SO hard that it's my theory that they built that extra room and outside porch over the parking lot, just to accommodate their crowd. Seriously. We used to get rooms at the TraveLodge next door on really fun nights. Ahhhh, those were the days. Richie Havens used to come in all the time…that was great.”
- Jen, UD '93
“We all met pretty much on a Dead tour. I moved to Delaware in the Summer of '89, after the Chicago Dead shows. I met all the guys through mutual friends, and we started playing acoustic shows at parties and at the East End Cafe at open mic night. At that time, Chris (bass) was attending UD for his freshman year.
We all were into the Dead, Phish, Bob Dylan and that classic style of psychedelic rock. Also we all loved Black Sabbath and a lot of hard rock bands. As we started writing our own tunes, I felt all the influences blended perfectly, giving us a harder sound than a lot of the other jam bands. At that time, we had Steve Bailey on guitar and vocals, Donny Merrill on drums, Pete Gerber on percussion, Chris Chelebowski on vocals and bass, Rob Jacobs on vocals and keys, and I was on guitars and vocals.
We loved playing the East End Cafe and the Deer Park Tavern, and every once in a while we'd play the Stone Balloon…but most of our fans didn't like it there. Then Mako's opened up, and we would play some acoustic shows there and it would be PACKED! Those were some really fun shows, and for some reason people came there. (Digger’s Note: Read about Mako’s in our “Odds and Ends” chapter!)
As for our songs, I think ‘Ebeneezer's Church’ was always a crowd pleaser. ‘Before I Get Old’ and ‘Getting a Keg’ were popular, and ‘Tuscon-Grand Canyon’ was a fun instrumental jam that people liked. I think by the time we had mostly our own originals in place, we got good response to most of them. Original music is really hard to write, I think, because most of it has been done already. The challenge is to create your own sound.
The early '90s was really magical time for music in DE. All kinds of bands were around, and a lot of them were really good. Blue Miracle, Yolk, Schleigho, schroeder, Love Seed Mama Jump, Caravan, and so many more I can't even remember them all. There were bands trying to make some real progress with songs and songwriting.
Shit man, without the fans at home you have nothing. We owe everything we ever achieved to the love and support of all our UD friends and fans locally who spread the word and supported us while we really sucked! We were really rough when we first started out, and everyone still came out and got shitty drunk and saw us anyways. I think we were a party band always, and the fact we went out and hung with our fans was a plus for us, too.”
- Wolf Navarro
MugNight.com, Glory Days at Delaware, and DelGrads are © 2006 – 2015 the guy who made this site. Website designed by Digger Designs.