Downtown Fresno hipster spot Peeve’s Public House closes for good

Fans at the bar watch the United States vs Germany World Cup match at Peeve’s Public House on Fresno’s Fulton Mall in 2014 in Fresno.
Fans at the bar watch the United States vs Germany World Cup match at Peeve’s Public House on Fresno’s Fulton Mall in 2014 in Fresno. Fresno Bee file

It’s official. Peeve’s is dead.

That’s Peeve’s Public House, the restaurant and pub on Fulton Mall, not the dog it’s named after.

The popular spot that was a model of downtown Fresno revitalization closed in late June for what was supposed to be a few weeks, with owner Craig Scharton saying he was talking to investors who could help him reopen.

But that didn’t happen.

On Friday, Scharton posted a lengthy message on Facebook about the closure.

He had hoped to ride out the construction that is currently turning Fulton Mall into Fulton Street.

“We didn’t quite make it to the finish line,” he says. “The goal was to make it to the opening of the street, but it just didn’t make sense to keep paying rent on a business that was not going to be open for several more months.”

The 2  1/2 year-old business had a large following of beer-lovers, hipsters, local food aficionados, Arsenal soccer fans and others. Peeve’s hosted all kinds of events, including the “Love a Local” music festival and meetings by Christian and atheist groups.

So what does it say about downtown revitalization when a popular business can’t make it there, particularly one run by the city of Fresno’s former director of downtown and community revitalization?

To Scharton, nothing.

Not making enough money wasn’t the issue, he says. During its second year, Peeves raked in almost $1 million in sales.

“We definitely got the revenue in, it’s just more the operational part,” he says. “It took too long to figure that out.”

Scharton has long acknowledged he doesn’t have much experience running a pub or restaurant.

“I had a fast learning curve and it took a while to understand the business model of running a restaurant,” he says. “You have to make mistakes until you learn.”

Scharton said he was working 70 or 80 hours a week at times and it wasn’t sustainable.

Mayor Ashley Swearengin agreed.

“I’m sorry to see Peeve’s closing, however there is plenty of good news to point to in downtown Fresno,” she said.

Forty businesses have opened in downtown or plan to open by the time Fulton is reopened to cars, she said, citing Downtown Fresno Partnership numbers.

She said Scharton also proved that Fulton could support an entertainment venue.

“They’ve certainly contributed a lot to the downtown scene.”

Scharton already has a part-time job with the Fulton Street Investors, a fund that allows the public to pool its money, buy downtown buildings and fix them up. He is also still the Fulton Mall manager with the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

The space Peeve’s was in is up for rent and everything inside is for sale. Interested buyers can come to the business between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday to buy and remove their purchases.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough