CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Sad Monkey Mercantile opened in November 2022 as a place for people to gather before heading to Palo Duro Canyon, or after coming back from a long day of hiking at the canyon.

The name Sad Monkey is sure to get the nostalgia going for several of us in the area.

It’s the name of a famous rock formation in the canyon that you can see during the TEXAS musical, it’s also the namesake of the former Sad Monkey Railroad.

“There was a train that ran up until 1996, as well that we loved growing up,” said Michael Standefer, who co-owns Sad Monkey Mercantile with his brother, Jonathan. “They took it down in ’96. We just loved that train going up, you get like ice custard down the bottom.”

The Standefer brothers told that the idea for Sad Monkey Mercantile started as a distillery but morphed into a bit of a restaurant, camping goods store, even a venue for weddings and concerts.

“It really just kind of snowballed into what you see here. I think. Well, yeah, we grew up in Palo Duro Canyon,” explained Michael. “We used to go, Jonathan and I would go rock climbing all the time, and spend a lot of time in Boy Scouts camping out and just love the canyon.”

The brothers told KAMR Local 4 News that building and constructing the venue was an inspiration put forth by their dad Michael Sr., who is also an architect.

“It’s seems like we have a lot of family history out here,” said Jonathan Standefer. “Our grandfather Marvin put in the Sunday Canyon neighborhood in 1965. And then I was gone for a while, but Michael and my dad build some cabins out here, like some rental cabins.”

The brothers said it’s a unique way for them to give back to the community.

“It’s been cool. Like, getting to know these people and becoming friends with these people and just kind of developing relationships that you’d never have, outside of something like this. Like, it just kind of becomes like a whole new friend group and everything,” Jonathan said.

Sad Monkey Mercantile is located at 9800 Texas 217 in Canyon, just a few miles from the Palo Duro Canyon.

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