Denton bar’s reopening date unclear

Posted on 25 Jan 2007 at 8:39pm
By John Wright

Owner of torched bar unable to open Nov. 1 as scheduled

DENTON The grand reopening of Denton’s only gay bar, which was destroyed by arsonists in March, has been delayed.

Meanwhile, authorities continue to investigate the blaze but say they have no suspects.

It’s unclear when the reopening of Mable Peabody’s Beauty Parlor and Chainsaw Repair, originally set for Nov. 1, will take place.

Eli Gemini, founder and moderator of the GLBT-Denton e-mail groups, said via e-mail Oct. 15 that he had recently received word from the bar’s owner, Kelley Sanders, about the delay. Sanders could not be reached.

A fundraiser for Mable Peabody’s at Buddies II in Dallas shortly after the fire raised about $10,000. Sanders also told the Voice that her landlord had informed her he planned to restore the building using insurance money.

“While Kelley and friends work with the city of Denton and others to get the required things for the re-opening, we eagerly and patiently await the grand event!” Gemini wrote.

The 27-year-old Mable Peabody’s, a cultural mecca for Denton’s LGBT community, was vandalized and torched in the early morning hours of March 21. At the time, some speculated it was a hate crime because it came less than two weeks after the acquittal of a man charged in a gay-bashing assault on Frye Street, where the bar is situated.

However, authorities said they could not classify the arson as a hate crime because nothing had been painted on the inside or outside of the bar, and there had been no threats against Sanders.

Denton Fire Marshal Rick Jones said this week the fire remains under investigation. Jones said he believes the motive was burglary.

“It still appears to be somebody burglarized the coin-operated machines and then set fire to the building,” he said. “That still appears to be the angle.”

Jones said someone reported a suspicious vehicle and what appeared to be juveniles in the area around the time of the fire. However, a license plate number given by the tipster didn’t match up with the vehicle description or owner.

“We’re thinking that the numbers may have been wrong,” Jones said. “You just keep following up on every lead that comes forward. We don’t ever give up on them.”

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 26, 2007

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