Name change coming for Effin's

Name change coming for Effin's

Establishment has new but familiar owner

SMITHFIELD - Submitting a surprise, last-minute bid that topped all other offers, the former co-owner of a Putnam Pike restaurant has bought Effin's Last Resort, the nightspot on Farnum Pike, for $910,000.

The successful bidder for the shuttered establishment, Smithfield's David DiDonato, said one of his first moves will be to drop the controversial "Effin's" from the name, which he'll shorten to "The Last Resort."

When the nightclub opened in 2006, it drew complaints from the town's legislative delegation, which termed "Effin's" a thinly disguised reference to a vulgarity.

The 51-year-old DiDonato, who once held an interest in the Water's Edge restaurant on Putnam Pike - now called the Tavern at 743 - has a degree in marketing, once worked in the financial industry, and has long been associated with the liquor and food business.

He had apparently been quietly bidding on Effin's, which was in receivership, but did not make his winning offer until May 10, minutes before the Superior Court was to approve a purchase and sales agreement with two Massachusetts-based partners who had submitted the previous high bid of $800,000.

DiDonato expects to re-open the 6,500-square-foot night club by early next month and will employ up to 50 people, mostly part-timers.

The sale is contingent on a transfer of the club's various licenses, but DiDonato said he has a management agreement in place with receiver Richard L. Gemma under which he can open under the existing permits.

He said except for light renovation and some changes in the food menu, the operation will be similar to that of the previous ownership and that it's possible he'll seek to develop some of the surrounding acreage in the future.

DiDonato plans to keep the large outdoor swimming pool as a feature of the business, which also includes parking for 300 cars and a sand volleyball court. The club has capacity for more than 600 people and once generated an estimated $2 million in annual sales before it was petitioned into receivership earlier this year by a major creditor, Navigant Credit Union.

DiDonato was the owner of the former Scoreboard Sports Club and Restaurant in Providence, owns business property in North Providence, and formerly owned a liquor store in Burrillville. He still holds an interest in the property on which the Tavern at 743 is located, but is no longer associated with the business.

He said he's altering the nightclub's name because the move will be indicative of "a fresh start" after a down period and because he remembers that "some people weren't crazy about" the Effin's reference.

DiDonato's avocation is as a high-stakes fantasy baseball player; he says he has won about $270,000 over the past decade in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship.

Participants pay entry fees for the right to draft "fantasy" teams of major league baseball players, and are eligible for prizes of up to $100,000, depending on the actual performance of their team members during the season.

Last year his luck ran about parallel to that of the Red Sox: He says he lost about $11,000.