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Owners Hope to Reopen Fire-Damaged Brewhouse in Santa Barbara in 2 Months

Brewery and bistro on West Montecito Street sustained major smoke and heat damage in blaze

Co-owner Pete Johnson stands near the spot where a fire broke out early Wednesday at the Brewhouse in Santa Barbara. The popular brewery and eatery is expected to reopen in about two months, he said. Click to view larger
Co-owner Pete Johnson stands near the spot where a fire broke out early Wednesday at the Brewhouse in Santa Barbara. The popular brewery and eatery is expected to reopen in about two months, he said. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

A sign on the front window of the fire-damaged Brewhouse in Santa Barbara says the popular brewery and bistro will reopen in two weeks.

"That was kind of wishful thinking," co-owner Pete Johnson told Noozhawk on Friday.

The good news is the popular restaurant and bar at 229 W. Montecito St. is expected to be back in business in about two months, Johnson said.

"I'm hoping it's quicker, but probably realistically, two months is as good a guess as any right now."

The fire broke out in the bar area at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, and while the flames were quickly knocked down by firefighters, there was significant smoke and heat damage throughout the business.

"Those ceilings didn't used to be black," Johnson said with a laugh, pointing upward.

A wall at the Brewhouse shows the heat and smoke damage from a fire early Wednesday. Click to view larger
A wall at the Brewhouse shows the heat and smoke damage from a fire early Wednesday. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

The exact cause of the blaze has not been determined, Johnson said, but a prime suspect is a heat gun used to seal growlers of beer. There also was an extension cord in the area that could have been involved.

A contractor with plans in hand was on scene Friday, and a worker was busy behind the 19-year-old business scrubbing smoke and soot off the tables and chairs.

Johnson said he does not have a dollar estimate for the damage, but the business was insured.

"Insurance is looking pretty good so far," he said. "We'll be in good shape. We're worried about the staff losing out on work."

A GoFundMe page with a goal of $20,000 has been set up to benefit the idled employees of the Brewhouse. As of midday Friday, it had raised $2,086.

Workers scrubbed soot off of tables and chairs Friday afternoon at the Brewhouse in Santa Barbara following Wednesday’s fire. Click to view larger
Workers scrubbed soot off of tables and chairs Friday afternoon at the Brewhouse in Santa Barbara following Wednesday’s fire.  (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Johnson said other local breweries have been very supportive, with Figueroa Mountain Brewery and Pure Order Brewing Co. offering to do fundraisers for the workers, and others calling to offer assistance.

"The brewing community has really rallied behind us," Johnson said. "And the response from the community, the people, it's just been overwhelming."

Showing he hasn't lost his sense of humor, Johnson posed for a photo pretending to pour a beer from the damaged bar.

"It breaks my heart looking at all that liquor we have to throw away," he said, pointing to rows of blackened bottles on the wall.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Showing he hasn’t lost his sense of humor, Brewhouse co-owner Pete Johnson poses for a photo pretending to pour a beer from the damaged bar. Click to view larger
Showing he hasn’t lost his sense of humor, Brewhouse co-owner Pete Johnson poses for a photo pretending to pour a beer from the damaged bar. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
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