Written by The Business Journal Staff
Craig Scharton, Owner
Peeve’s Public House & Local Market
What we do: We’re a casual, American-style pub that features local, seasonal food and 75 craft beers
Education: M.S. in Community Economic Development, Southern New Hampshire University
Family: Cole & Amanda Scharton (son and daughter-in-law), my dog Peeve
For the uninitiated, tell us what Peeve’s Pub is all about.
Peeve’s Pub (1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno) is a fun place with many events. We feature two to four menu items per meal and they change every day to reflect our kitchen’s creativity and local produce and food products. We promise at least one tap handle for local microbrews. One night might feature a band, the next a movie and the next a guest chef. We’re open from 7:30am to 11:00pm Monday through Saturday.
Do you have food service management experience, Craig?
I have a variety of cooking experiences and have worked with dozens of restaurants on events and marketing, but this is my very first restaurant.
How is business so far, Craig?
We are very excited with the community’s reception of our business concept. Restaurants that feature a local food theme have been popular in other cities and it seems like there is quite a bit of pent up demand for it here. We expect to break even by January, which is our fourth month in business; my restaurant-owner friends tell me that this is pretty amazing. It’s a complicated business model, so there is plenty to learn, but we’re very encouraged by the response.
How did the concept of the local market come about, and how is it being received, Craig?
The Fresno Food Expo was born out of the idea to support our local food making-companies. The Local Market is a smaller version. Our products are 100% local, so everything a customer buys is supporting our downtown business, but also other neighboring employers. We also encourage start-up and cottage food producers so we’re kind of a retail business incubator.
Starting in 2009, you worked under Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin on business and downtown issues. Your last day with the city was Aug. 31. What keeps you busier? Working for the city or running Peeve’s?
I’d never worked harder than I did at the City…until I started Peeve’s.
You’re a well-known proponent of the Fulton Mall. How would you describe the potential you see for your business if Fulton Street is restored, Craig?
If we are like every other city that has restored traffic to a pedestrian mall, then we should see a huge jump in business and property values.
It seems many Fresnans are hesitant, even afraid, to come downtown. How do you overcome that, Craig?
Our busiest time of day is 7:30pm-10:00pm, so there is a segment of our community that is comfortable in an urban environment. We can’t rely on the existing foot traffic, because there isn’t much, so we try to draw people in by offering something different and through our events…to become a destination.
What are three words that best describe you?
Personable, stubborn and optimistic.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Craig?
I was born and raised in Fresno. I’ve lived most of my adult life in the Tower District and in downtown. I love our blend of urban, rural and proximity to the Sierra Nevadas.
Do you ever see yourself working in the public sector again? Elected office, Craig?
Maybe someday I’d consider it, if the timing was right, but right now I’m enjoying the freedom of wearing jeans and letting my ties get dusty on their rack.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
I worked at Dodgson’s Books. I loved being around books, local authors like William Saroyan, and other book lovers. They also had a huge selection of cookbooks, so that added to my interest in food. It also helped me to learn about retail and customer service.
What do you like to do in your free time, Craig?
I have a 1925 bungalow in downtown Fresno’s Lowell neighborhood. My entire yard is food producing with raised beds and trees and vines, so I love gardening. I also enjoy fly-fishing in the central Sierra Nevadas. Fresno is such a social place, so I get to spend a lot of time with family and friends.