If You're in Fresno, Please Stop in at Peeve's Public House

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Craig Scharton (right) in 2014 at his Peeve’s Public House in downtown Fresno. With him is Oscar Fuentes, who was the beer buyer for Peeve’s then and now has started his own brewery.

During our visits to Fresno, in California’s Central Valley, over the past two years, my wife Deb and I have made regular stops at Peeve’s Public House, on the downtown Fulton Mall.

Initially this was because the proprietor, Fresno patriot and publican Craig Scharton, was the first person to argue to us (at a chance meeting elsewhere in California) that tattered-looking Fresno was worth serious attention as a city turning itself around. After heavy initial skepticism, we became convinced. You can read the summary version of why we changed our minds here, or the full chronicles here. On return trips to Fresno we kept going back to Peeve’s because we liked the beer, food, and atmosphere there. And increasingly we came to respect its role as a civic center, in a part of town very much in need of such a thing. Here was the event board on our first visit:

The Fulton Mall area where Peeve’s has been an anchor and outpost (it’s one of the few businesses now open at night) is in the middle of a mammoth construction project, whose details you can read about here. In the long run, the overhaul is meant to spur downtown Fresno’s revival. In the short run, it’s yet another challenge for the businesses already there.

Members of Fresno’s “Downtown Academy” at Peeve’s last year, courtesy of That Fresno Blog.

Last night Craig Scharton put up a long post on Peeve’s Facebook page, saying that conditions had darkened and he flat-out needed more customers if he was to stay open. Here’s the “action” section of his post:

This is an unusual plea to our community of customers. Transparency has been a core value of mine (and therefore Peeve’s Pub). I don’t know if this will work or not, but I know that we don’t have any chance unless we try.

We need about 2,500 extra customer visits in the next month or two. That means people who haven’t tried us yet, come on down. We need occasional customers to make one extra visit, or maybe people who had a bad experience to give us another try. Or it means bringing a friend or two with you or ordering boxed lunches for your next office meeting.

If one-fifth of the people who like us on Facebook do this, I think we’ll survive.

I have no connection to Scharton except as a recent friend, nor to Peeve’s except as a customer. But if I were in Fresno, I’d be voting with my dollars to help it survive. People of Fresno, over to you!

Update Here’s an informative account of menu and beer changes at Peeve’s, by Bethany Clough in the Fresno Bee.