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A Professor’s ‘Pet Peeve’

An outside view of Peeve’s Public House & Local Market located in the Fulton Mall in Downtown Fresno.

Katie Eleneke / The Collegian                                                                                                                      An outside view of Peeve’s Public House & Local Market located in the Fulton Mall in Downtown Fresno.

Peeve’s Public House & Local Market, a “hyper local” space in downtown Fresno, isn’t your typical restaurant and bar.

At Peeve’s, “local” is the name of the game, and everyone is welcome to drop in, hang out and see what their community has to offer.

Owner Craig Scharton, a Fresno State professor who teaches urban entrepreneurship and is the former business development director for the City of Fresno, developed the hybrid restaurant when he discovered the Fresno Brewing Company—a craft beer establishment in downtown Fresno—was closing its doors.

Scharton, who enjoyed visiting the local bar and café, said he knew something had to be done. At the time, Scharton didn’t know that he would be the one to keep the building from going empty.

“I sort of have this rule that whenever you say someone should do something three times in a row, it usually means you should just step in and do it yourself,” he said.

So, on Sept. 16, 2013, that’s exactly what Scharton did when he launched Peeve’s, a hub for local produce, beer and entertainment. Scharton’s dog, the restaurant’s namesake, can regularly be found walking around the building and interacting with customers.

Though many cities in California boast a large market for local food and beer, Scharton said Fresno has not yet jumped on the bandwagon.

“For some reason in Fresno we don’t do the ‘local thing’ like they do almost everywhere else,” he said.

Scharton, an avid supporter of local fare, hopes to change that.

“Part of it [opening the restaurant], for me, was connecting people to all of these great food makers and food growers—and I could do that through our menu,” he said.

Scharton said the menu always varies to reflect the seasonal changes of the Valley’s crops.

“It’s a food-inspired menu,” he said. “The creative part—the human part of it—

Katie Eleneke / The Collegian Scharton's dog, Peeve, watches customers and moves around the restaurant .

Katie Eleneke / The Collegian
Scharton’s dog, Peeve, watches customers and moves around the restaurant.

is turning that food into something that’s delicious.”

For Sean Dunn, Peeve’s executive chef, crafting new menus—sometimes every day—is the best part of the job.

“For a chef to get to the point where they can control everything about the menu, change it every day and control every nuance of what they’re putting on the plate, they would have to own their own business or find a partner where they would have the availability to do that,” Dunn said. “This a once-in-a-lifetime type of shot—it’s fantastic.”

In addition to the food providing more nutrients and taste due to its freshness, Scharton said buying local produce also helps support the Valley’s farmers.

“When we’re buying from a local farmer, we don’t even use a middleman,” he said. “Every dollar we pay goes right to the farmer, and that makes a big difference for farmers. A lot of times, in the grocery store, they’re getting pennies on the dollar.”

Scharton said Peeve’s has even purchased cheese, grapes, corn and sausage from Fresno State’s Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market.

The market side of Peeve’s also gives customers the opportunity to purchase a weekly produce box filled with a variety of local goods through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Those who wish to receive a weekly box, Scharton said, can sign up online at www.tdwilleyfarms.com.

But local food is not all that Peeve’s offers. It also provides patrons with a selection of more than 75 craft beers to choose from, including two craft beer companies native to Fresno: Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. and Full Circle Brewing Co.

Jordy Dakin, a bartender at Peeve’s and graduate student at Fresno State, said Peeve’s isn’t just your run-of-the-mill bar, but rather an embodiment of a true public house that provides a sense of community to all who step through its doors.

“This is the coolest bar in town, and I think that people up at Fresno State would do well to choose Peeve’s over something like the Red Wave [Inn] or even a lot of places in Tower,” he said. “For the most part, with the exception of Spokeasy [Public House], they don’t really have same sense of community—the same actual ‘public house’ feel—that Peeve’s has.”

Every week, patrons of Peeve’s can also enjoy local entertainment along with their food or beer.

Every Thursday, starting Feb. 13, Peeve’s will host a guest chef for the day. Scharton said the guests will include professional chefs, local Fresno celebrities, well-known home cooks and food vendors. The first guest, Scharton said, will be Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

Peeve’s also hosts live music on Fridays and movie nights on Saturdays.

Scharton said future movie showings include: “The Godfather,” “Young Frankenstein,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “Westside Story.”

The movie showings are free to attend and open to all ages.

Peeve’s is located in Downtown Fresno at the Fulton Mall between Tuolumne and Fresno streets.

You can find more information on the website peevespub.com.