Comic says Pepperbelly’s fire ‘like a death in the family’

By From page A3 | January 28, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Investigators are expected Monday at Pepperbelly’s Comedy Club in hopes of determining the cause of a five-alarm fire that gutted the building Friday night.

A chain-link fence surrounds the building at the corner of Texas and Jackson streets. The adjacent streets were re-opened Saturday night after clean-up crews were able to get debris off the sidewalk and it was determined it was safe for traffic, said Battalion Chief Rob Bartoli.

Taranbir Dhanoa has run the club the past two years. He spoke Sunday with a heavy heart.

“I want to rebuild,” he said. “Hopefully everyone can help. I can’t do it by myself.”

He spent Friday booking several comedians and was to mail out contracts to them Monday.

“I worked hard the last two years to build it up,” he said. “It burned right in front of my eyes.”

Vallejo native Myles Weber was performing in Idaho when he heard about the fire. Weber got his big break at the venue. The first news came about five minutes before he was supposed to go on stage.

”When I saw it on Facebook, my jaw hit the floor,” Weber said.

He was at Pepperbelly’s Wednesday night, hanging out with friends during the weekly open mike. They left early to head out and get some food.

“I wish I’d known that would have been the last time I was going to be in there,” he said.

Weber compares the fire to how it must feel watching one’s childhood home go up in smoke.

“It’s like a death in the family,” he said.

He worked his way up from being an opening act to the headliner inside the building. While he supports the idea of it being rebuilt, Weber said he isn’t sure it would have the same flavor.

“I’ll always have my memories (of it),” he said.

Honest John, whose given name is John Basinger, was on his way to perform at the club Friday night. As he got closer to the venue, he could see the fire.

“This is really a kick in the pants,” he said. It was to be his second time at Pepperbelly’s.

The club offered more than comedy, he said, explaining there was music planned after his shows Friday and Saturday.

“It was an entertainment center,” the comic said.

He said he hopes Dhanoa will rebuild.

“I have faith in the resiliency of these good people,” he said. “They will bounce back.”

The building is owned by Wayne Mayhew. In an interview Saturday with Sacramento TV station Fox 40, Mayhew thanked the first responders and said he would like to rebuild.

“I don’t really have anything to say,” he said Sunday. “It’s a blur at this point. I’m just laying low.”

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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