Lawrenceville bar and venue Belvedere's Ultra-Dive is closed today after a two-alarm fire broke out in its kitchen early this morning.
The bar is a mainstay of the punk and metal scenes and hosts regular DJ nights and electronic shows as well, and is a past winner in City Paper's annual Best of Pittsburgh Reader's Poll, including for its weekly Neon '80s Night. It's expected to be closed for about a month, according to Joy Toujours, its manager. He says the source was electrical, and that a friend who books shows at the venue first noticed smoke coming out of the bar when he happened to be walking by around 5:30 a.m.
"One of my boys who does punk shows just happened to be walking by and noticed," Toujours says. "Luckily, no one was there, so no one was hurt, and there wasn't a mad rush for the doors or anything."
"The kitchen is gone," he adds. "But other than that, it's cosmetic."
The bar has about 25 employees, Toujours says.
Toujours says in the immediate aftermath, employees are gathering to discuss plans; one of the most pressing will be trying to find a place to hold the bar's annual New Year's Eve event, which for the past several years has been hosted by The Harlan Twins. Other upcoming events scheduled for the bar include Friday's Enforcery event ), featuring KRTS, :Tropic, Ivies, Morgantics and Mr. Owl. According to DJ and Enforcery promoter Mr. Owl, the Enforcery event Fri., Jan. 2, will now take place at Cattivo, 146 44th St. in Lawrenceville, in the upstairs bar area. The Harlan Twins' James Hart says he hopes to move the New Year's Eve event, but as of right now, there's not a confirmed new venue for that show.
While January is usually a slow time for music venues, Toujours says there aren't necessarily fewer events at Belvedere's in January than other times of the year. "We're not like other places, so there aren't fewer shows — just fewer people coming to them, generally."
According to Pittsburgh public-safety spokesperson Sonya Toler, the cause of the fire is under investigation. The fire department estimates damage at a total of about $30,000.
One bright spot: Only hours after the fire, folks are already looking for ways to pitch in. "People are already offering us benefit shows, GoFundMe fundraisers," says Toujours. "It really shows the community we have here. I lived in L.A. for a couple of years, and no one cared about each other — this is Pittsburgh. Everyone is reaching out already."