pepperbellys, 1/29/13

Eric Murphy, of San Francisco, a Bay Area comic who got his start at Pepperbelly's and performed there frequently, takes a look at the club for the first time on Tuesday afternoon before helping with the cleanup effort. "It's my home away from home," Murphy said.


Show goes on for Pepperbelly’s thanks to downtown friends

By From page A1 | January 30, 2013

FAIRFIELD — The show will go on for Pepperbelly’s.

Comedy acts that were made homeless because of the Friday night fire that gutted the comedy club will be put on stage at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts just two blocks away, starting Feb. 14-16 with comedian Tommy Davidson.

Support from representatives of the Downtown Theatre Foundation and the Fairfield Main Street Association were the bright spot in the somber aftermath for Pepperbelly’s business owner Taran Dhanoa and building owner Wayne Mayhew.

“It’s just a win-win situation and we are there as long as he needs it,” said Dae Spering, artistic director and events manager for the downtown theater, who reached out to Dhanoa during a Monday morning meeting.

The Pepperbelly’s performances will take place at the downtown theater on dates that don’t conflict with the theater’s other artistic offerings. While the initial talks dealt with performances through the end of April, the Downtown Theatre Foundation and the Fairfield Main Street Association plan to do everything they can to help Pepperbelly’s out.

Fire officials announced Tuesday they were ruling the fire accidental, but couldn’t name an exact cause. Battalion Chief Bob Stoffel said it started in the second story near the office area.

Stoffel said an insurance inspector would look at the building next, but said he wasn’t confident the inspector would find any more information.

The fire at Pepperbelly’s broke out at about 6:45 p.m. Friday, gutting the building and damaging some of the exterior as more than 20 fire engines from around Solano County and beyond responded to fight it. Thick reinforced concrete walls kept the fire from spreading to adjacent structures.

The sidewalk around the popular night spot remained cordoned off Tuesday afternoon as employees entered Pepperbelly’s to start cleaning up what they could in the adjacent lounge area that suffered significant water damage.

Both Mayhew and Dhanoa said it was too early to talk about specific future plans, but both men said they want to resurrect and reopen Pepperbelly’s if possible.

“This is where my heart is and I want to make this work. It’s a landmark,” Mayhew said. “It is near and dear to a lot of people here.”

“I would still like to reopen the club, but it is still too early,” Dhanoa said. “I would still like to keep the Pepperbelly’s name rolling.”

Dhanoa thanked Spering and Margaret Manzo, executive director of the Fairfield Main Street Association, for their help that will probably also include organizing a fundraiser to help out the business and its employees.

Several attorneys’ offices located behind Pepperbelly’s are still closed due to water damage, but the attorneys there had nothing but praise for the firefighters who saved much of the contents. They also plan to be open for business again by next week.

“We have blowers going in there now,” said attorney Gary Jansen. “The Fire Department was great. They saved a lot of property. It could have been a lot worse.”

Attorney Bret Yable said they still need to check some of their computers for damage and have shifted meetings with clients back a week.

Reach Ian Thompsom at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.

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  • Dan MonezJanuary 30, 2013 - 9:07 am

    Kudos to Dae Spering and Margaret Manzo for their leadership in reaching out to Pepperbelly's and offering to share the beautiful performance space at the Downtown Theater! The arts community shows, once again, the value of working collaboratively. The City of Fairfield did a very good thing by allowing the Downtown Theatre Foundation to operate the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts. It, obviously is in very capable hands.

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