NEPA Scene Staff

Peculiar Kitchen in Scranton hosts buffet with live music on Jan. 16 to benefit V-Spot after fire

Peculiar Kitchen in Scranton hosts buffet with live music on Jan. 16 to benefit V-Spot after fire
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On New Year’s Eve, the roof of The V-Spot in Scranton caught fire while it was being repaired for minor leaks. While no patrons were in the bar yet and no one was hurt, the fire, smoke, and water damage will likely take about a month or more to repair, leaving the venue’s bartenders, bouncers, kitchen workers, and event staff out of work until then.

Last week, NEPA Scene started a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign for The V-Spot employees that has already raised $4,675 from 100 donors. A special event coming up this weekend is looking to significantly add to that total.

In partnership with NEPA Scene, Peculiar Kitchen in downtown Scranton will host a small dinner fundraiser and public get-together on Sunday, Jan. 16 from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. featuring live music by Dustin Douglas of Wilkes-Barre blues rock trio Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen, Jeremy Burke of Scranton alternative roots rock band Jung Bergo, and Adam McKinley of Kingston jazz funk band SUZE.

A $10 donation at the door includes a buffet with a variety of food donated by Peculiar and other local restaurants like the Backyard Ale House, Bettelli’s Villa, Taco Bout Us, and Noir Dark Spirits. There will also be a cash bar with a percentage benefiting the cause, and NEPA Scene merchandise will be available to purchase.

Peculiar Kitchen (307 Penn Ave., Scranton) is typically closed on Sundays, so they are opening just for this friendly gathering that was spearheaded and organized by owner and chef Gene Philbin, who “serves new American comfort food with a serious passion for Asian flare, experimenting with all kinds of dishes unique to the area” at the recently rebranded restaurant.

“It has been a hard enough year for restaurants and bars everywhere. We are all trying to survive, and New Year’s Eve is usually a great day for all of us. The minute that I heard The V-Spot had a fire, I thought to myself, ‘The timing is never good when this happens, but boy, this was a real rough time.’ That day is really a huge help, especially through the January/February slump, and it was taken away from them. It is a no-brainer to help them out in any way we can,” Philbin said.

“And aside from being wonderful people, they are great supporters of local art, music, and their fellow restaurant and bars. The thing with a lot of Scranton restaurants is that we are all in this together. They’d do the same for any one of us.”

NEPA Scene founder and editor Rich Howells agreed, noting that V-Spot co-owner Vinnie Archer was one of the first people to help his family when his parents’ house burned down just three years ago.

“I knew that everyone at The V-Spot was too humble to ask the public for help, but they shouldn’t really have to. They’ve always been there for the community with benefit shows, donations for charities and fundraisers, sponsorships, etc., so I set up the GoFundMe so we could all be there for them. Over the years, I have gotten to know their employees and see how hard they work and what great personalities they have. A lot of workplaces try to homogenize the staff and make them all behave like robots, but The V-Spot allows them to be themselves, and they’re all great people,” he explained.

“As the editor of NEPA Scene, I also know how important that bar is to the local music scene. They host a wide array of live music every week, our NEPA Scene Open Mic, a popular karaoke night, and events like the annual Steamtown Music Awards. We just lost another music venue in Scranton, so it’s so important to support the ones we have, especially those that showcase original local music as well as cover acts.”

Archer told NEPA Scene that neither he nor co-owner Frank Lombardo will accept any of the donations from the online and in-person fundraisers – all funds will benefit their employees. After the fire, Archer posted the following message on the bar’s social media:

“What a heartbreaking end to 2021.

At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Friday (N.Y.E.), our roof on the second story of our three story building accidentally caught fire while being repaired for minor, pesky leaks. Luckily, we were not open yet, choosing to open at 7p instead of 3p that evening due to staffing issues. Good fortune had it that our kitchen manager was there prepping for the evening when he heard screams for help from above. Three of our own fire extinguishers were used to combat the flames before the Scranton Fire Department arrived. Bernie (our kitchen superman) is responsible for saving our building from sustaining 10× the possible fire, smoke and water damage that it actually did. That guy has a history of “saving the day” since the day we met him. An incredible asset to our business in all ways imaginable. Our gratitude for his bravery is simply immeasurable!

The amount of friends and family on the scene to offer help and emotional support was truly humbling. The Scranton Fire Department were so quick to respond as well as the Scranton Police Department. Both concern and empathy were crystal clear to see from both of those departments. Bartenders, bouncers, former employees and even our own children crossed caution tape to show solidarity in what was clearly the darkest hour of our 11 year existence. Thank you to all who helped try to comfort us.

What now?

Well, this morning we met with 3 city officials. Each showing genuine respect for us not only as business owner’s, but as peers compassionately identifying with our sadness and shock. It was a comforting reaction from them for sure. With their direction, we now know what to do and what not to do to get our business back up and running as soon as possible.

Trust us. With the swiftness… we will make all the phone calls, make all the appointments, answer to and comply with all agencies involved in the process of making our building safe to reopen again. In a perfect world, where everyone involved in the repair process works as efficiently as they can, we will be back up and running in 2-3 weeks.

[To the band scheduled to play that night], Dance Hall Devils, we are SO sorry this happened. We really love you guys. To our massive following of patrons, we love you too and are equally sorry to ruin what was sure to have been a legendary night out.

We will keep posting re-opening projections as we learn them. ‘Til then, stay hopeful with us… We want nothing more than to be together again with you all!”

Lead photo by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene, artwork by Eric Bussart