Friday, March 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Fire guts beloved Pepperbelly’s club

PepperbellyÕs Comedy Club destroyed by fire

Firefighters battle a blaze that engulfed Pepperbelly's Comedy Club on Friday night in Fairfield. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | January 26, 2013 |

FAIRFIELD — Hundreds of spectators stood aghast Friday night as heavy flames burst from windows of Pepperbelly’s Comedy Club and smoke engulfed the building.

Many longtime Fairfield residents were shocked as they watched flames race through and gut one of Fairfield’s oldest, most beloved sites.

“Pepperbelly’s is finished,” said John Davins as he watched the fire grow.

The fire was reported about 6:45 p.m. by someone inside. Sirens went off and all Pepperbelly’s employees were safely evacuated before police came to the scene and assessed the situation.

More than 20 fire engines from all over Solano County arrived to battle the five-alarm fire.

Fairfield Fire Chief Vince Webster said firefighters were initially able to go inside but were unable to find the source of the fire. As the fire and heat grew quickly and smoked thickened, firefighters backed out and ran out of theater yelling “get out.”

From there, firefighters fought the fire from the outside and above, trying to keep the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings. So much water was shot onto and into the building that the city called in Public Works Department crews to deal with flooding.

Fairfield’s first movie theater, which opened in 1921, was at the location of Pepperbelly’s. It was refurbished in 1945 as the Solano Theater and in 1974, it changed its name to Fairfield Cinema 1. After the movie theater closed in the 1990s, it was closed until it reopening as a comedy club and has since been run by multiple operators.

Friday’s fire came a year and 12 days after a massive blaze burned a large office building at 744 Empire St., just two blocks away.

Webster said because the structure was older, the fire spread faster, though there were no major at-risk materials in the building.  He said he believes the source of the fire was inside the second story, but firefighters had still not found the source of the fire late Friday night.

It is unknown if there was any damage to nearby buildings.

Pepperbelly’s has hosted many big-name comics, including Dana Carvey, Bill Bellamy, DC Curry, Tommy Davidson, DL Hughly and Christopher Titus. Davidson, Dustin Diamond and Jimmy Walker were among the comedians scheduled to appear at the club in coming weeks.

A number of people showed up to catch a show by comedian Honest John, but instead watched from the sidewalks as Pepperbelly’s burned.

Jason and Natalia Diavatis were two of those who came for the show. Natalia Diavatis stood outside for a while taking pictures of poles on fire and musing with her husband about the source of the fire.

The couple moved inside Miko’s Japanese Cuisine, kitty corner to the fire. Jason Diavatis said his sister Wendy, who owns Truffle Berries down the street, was worried about her business.

A large crowd at the corner of Jackson Street and Texas Street gasped as flames burst from the roof and smoke flooded the streets.

Bill Kittle, an employee of Solano Window Fashions just down the block from Pepperbelly’s, said he was thankful that firefighters responded so quickly.

“This is an old wood structure,” Kittle said. “The fact that the Fire Department kept it from growing shows how great our Fire Department is.”

On the west side of the Pepperbelly’s is a large mural, painted in the summer of 2005, depicting Solano County’s history. Sherwood Lunsted stood watching along Texas Street, shaking his head as the mural was slowly destroyed.

“It’s such a beautiful mural . . . such an old building,” he said. “It’s too bad.”

A little after 10 p.m., fire officials reported that the entire roof of Pepperbelly’s had collapsed and there was no visible fire.

Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.

Heather Ah San

Heather Ah San

Heather Ah San covers Rio Vista, features and general news for the Daily Republic. She received her bachelors of art degree from the University of Oregon.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 11 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Steven KaysJanuary 25, 2013 - 11:07 pm

    Very sad.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Janis EdwardsJanuary 26, 2013 - 8:39 am

    So sad for many longtime and long ago residents. I went on my first date (when that meant something) at the theatre in 1963. Everyone will have memories. I am thankful I could view pics on the internet.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • BernadetteJanuary 26, 2013 - 3:34 am

    All the memories that building holds for so many. Sad to see it gone.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • WendyJanuary 26, 2013 - 6:35 am

    I was never concerned about my business. I am a good distance aways from PepperBelly's. I was concerned for my friends business...for PepperBelly's. It is very sad. I watched it burn down just like so many other people. I hope they can rebuild.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • KirstenJanuary 26, 2013 - 9:22 am

    How unusual, a newspaper misquoting somebody? Wendy, I think the only thing that would make me happy now is a PMS cookie

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TimJanuary 26, 2013 - 7:03 am

    As nice as the club was It wouldnt surprise me if its an insurance issue with the changing of ownership back and forth over the last couple years

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • vince guisandeJanuary 26, 2013 - 7:17 am

    Randeep,Taran,and Wayne, Our family and friends are so sorry for the loss. We know how hard you guys and your families worked to make Pepperbellys the place to be and appreciate it. Your work has brought so many smiles and fond memories for so many of us in Fairfield. Much love and blessings to your future endeavors. The people will be waiting with open arms for the return!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • louisJanuary 26, 2013 - 11:41 am

    That sucks! I went with a couple friends to see Bruce Bruce! I hope they rebuild it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Steven KaysJanuary 26, 2013 - 12:40 pm

    After the sadness come hope. Let's hope somebody will innovate the corner where PepperBelly's once stood. Time to get creative and move things forward.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • 707truthJanuary 26, 2013 - 9:00 pm

    Really.....self promotion from Steve Kays again! What a shock.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mike mikeJanuary 26, 2013 - 10:13 pm

    The city of fairfield is the only city west of the mississippi over 50,000 population without a truck company. Even suisun city has one. Fairfield does have one but it is parked at the station due to administration direction. Below is the ISO recommendation for having a truck company. Based on ISO (insurance services organization) the city of fairfield should have 2 or 3 truck companies based on the 5 different districts. The ISO recommends that an aerial ladder truck be used in response areas that have: Five buildings that are three stories — 35 feet to the eaves — or more in height. Five buildings that require a fire flow of greater than 3,500 gpm. Five buildings with any combination of these criteria.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Brasher new president, CEO of Jelly Belly

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Rio Vista singer ready for Rancho Cordova show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Everyday life inspires model’s music

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Hosting gig for comic, birthday party on weekend schedule

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
 
Kids fishing day events return

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Spring Fling set to return to Rancho Solano

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield police log: March 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun police log: March 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Lawyers dispute hoax claim, boyfriend says he was drugged

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Co-pilot believed to have purposefully crashed plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
L.A. river revamp to cost double previous projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Governor awaits $1B drought relief bill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US drops graphic leaflet to possible Islamic State recruits

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
AP Exclusive: Special ops troops using flawed intel software

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

State to alter ban on where sex offenders can live

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Report: Teen says mom killed her siblings found in freezer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
House OKs bipartisan Medicare doctor bill; fate up to Senate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Talent agency wants Matt McConaughey speaking fee secret

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Grateful Oklahomans salvage belongings after killer storm

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Fact Check: Myths in the political roar over Common Core

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US: Chicago-area cousins planned US terrorist attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Turmoil in Yemen escalates as Saudi Arabia bombs rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Russian, American ready for a year in space

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Tunisians assure Star Wars sets safe from Islamic State

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
US Thunderbolt II attack planes on training in Poland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Syrian government shells kill 18 in south, activists say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 27, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Parents may be enabling son’s drinking and hurting his employment chances

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview March 27 to April 3, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
With ‘Downton Abbey’s coming demise, here are 5 past deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ken Burns unravels the mysteries of cancer in PBS film

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘Downton Abbey’ to end after upcoming 6th season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: Animated alien adventure ‘Home’ lands with a thud

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Entertainment Calendar: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Prep swimming preview: City teams look to make big splash

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Marleau, Niemi lead Sharks past Red Wings 6-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Warriors can match franchise record for wins at Memphis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Fiancee of Aaron Hernandez to be called to testify Friday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Stanford’s VanDerveer, Notre Dame’s McGraw to face off

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Signups for Friday, March 27, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B8

Former Germany coach Berti Vogts joins Klinsmann’s US staff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Officials OK demolishing Irwindale Speedway for outlet mall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Sharks sign 2 college players

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Top-seeded Wisconsin hangs to beat North Carolina 79-72

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

49ers waive OL Jonathan Martin after 1 season with team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Notre Dame races by Wichita State 81-70 for Elite Eight spot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Kentucky overwhelms West Virginia 78-39 in NCAA Sweet 16

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
San Diego city, county join forces on bid to keep NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Labor, developers reach deal on proposed Inglewood stadium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Italians will pull out of America’s Cup if boats downsized

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

This date in sports history for March 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Mirim Lee leads LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Charley Hoffman takes PGA lead in wind-swept Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Business

Range Rover offers an exclusivity that’s rich with irony

By The Washington Post | From Page: C1

 
Oil prices jump almost 5 percent as tensions mount in Yemen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

New Samsung, HTC phones coming April 10 in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Google’s new CFO gets $70M for defecting from Morgan Stanley

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Bankruptcy hearing could decide fate of RadioShack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Microsoft wants US suppliers to give employees paid time off

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Lawmakers unhappy with new fracking rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
Authorities go after crooked car deals in national crackdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9