The Sound & the Fury
Pedicab burns, La Tuna turns seven
Published: September 28, 2011
The Pedicab (415 E Cevallos) is gone, burnt to the ground Monday morning. No lives were lost, but it’s the second local music venue in a few months to disappear. (San Antone Café & Concerts, we still miss you.) According to Melissa Sparks, spokeswoman for the San Antonio Fire Department, the losses at Pedicab are estimated at $100,000. There are an estimated $40,000 in damages at La Tuna, where the fire spread. But at 6 p.m. Monday a person at the site who wished to remain anonymous told the Current the Pedicab would be torn down as we were going to press on Tuesday.
“It’s a total loss, and the building was in bad shape in the first place,” he said. As was the case when Ram Ayala was gunned down at Taco Land, dozens of people throughout the day showed up to see if they could salvage any of Pedicab’s memorabilia. “All of a sudden everyone knew Mike [Urbano, Pedicab’s owner]. ‘I helped him do this, and I helped him do that.’ So we’re trying to keep them away.” The man said Urbano was in Dallas attending a family funeral.
The fire spread from Pedicab to La Tuna, where owners Mark and Ana Dortman were picking up what they could salvage from the kitchen on Monday afternoon.
“Our whole kitchen is gone,” Ana Dortman said. “But we have insurance for the inside of the building and the structure is covered.” As of press time, still no news on whether Pedicab had insurance, and Urbano didn’t return calls from the Current.
Sitting at La Tuna’s separated bar, which suffered no losses, was John Fahle, a lawyer who rents an apartment above the grill’s property.
“I’m the one who ran from the apartment screaming like a girl,” Fahle said. He was asleep on his bed, when he heard “a bang” at 5 a.m. on Monday. “I looked, saw the fire, and ran downstairs only carrying a suit, a laptop, and no phone.” He called out for help and someone called 911.
“Everyone says it was an explosion, and that’s what ended up in the news. But I’m the one who heard it, and it was a bang.” Fahle — who is also a cook, says he is trying to get out of the business of law and sells (reportedly mind-blowing) fried chicken and waffles on Saturdays at the Pearl’s Farmers Market — will be staying with some friends until La Tuna rebuilds the apartment.
“Yeah, we’re coming back,” said Ana Dortman. “We’re definitely coming back.”
Some La Tuna friends and patrons are planning an October First Friday barbecue at the site. The occasion? This Saturday, the Dortmans are celebrating seven years at La Tuna.
Go to blogs.sacurrent.com for info on Burro Punk Fest and Rev. Payton’s Big Damn Band show.
> Email Enrique Lopetegui