Saturday, November 27, 2004

Bananaz Burns Down

The Bananaz restaurant that we used to play NTN against burned down early Friday morning. I'm spending a few days at home for Thanksgiving, a few towns away from Bananaz and I read this story in the local paper (photos are available with the link):

Bananaz: Up In Smoke
Financially troubled club burns; probe of fire’s cause ongoing

The Desert Sun November 27, 2004
By Lois Gormley and Ferdie De Vega

PALM DESERT -- A bar and grill that has wrestled with bankruptcy since 2003 went up in flames early Friday.

Bananaz, at the corner of Highway 111 and Fred Waring Drive in Palm Desert, quickly became engulfed when firefighters arrived on the scene of the 5:31 a.m. blaze, said Battalion Chief Dorian Cooley, Riverside County Fire Department/California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Nearly 50 firefighters and supervisory personnel responded to the scene with at least nine engines and a ladder truck, he said. The cause of the two-alarm fire at the 15,000-square-foot restaurant and bar was still unknown Friday evening. Fire investigators teamed with insurance investigators in an effort to determine the what started the blaze, Cooley said.

The fast-moving fire, which caused an estimated $2.5 million in damage, took place at a time it would be noticed, he said. By late Friday afternoon, investigators had not yet determined where in the building the blaze originated.

Nestled in the heart of some of Palm Desert’s busiest shopping hotspots, the club blaze was quickly spotted by post-Thanksgiving pre-dawn shoppers. A portion of Highway 111 was closed to traffic for seven hours.

Raylene Clark of La Quinta said she watched the firefighters battle the blaze at Bananaz for about an hour early Friday morning from behind a wall at the edge of the Desert Crossing shopping center parking lot across the street just before 6 a.m.

"I was dropping off my stepdaughter at Circuit City," she said. "We came all the way down Fred Waring (Drive)," Clark said, adding that they saw the billowing smoke in front of the mountains. "When you got to Monterey, you could start seeing the glowing," she said.

By 7:15 a.m., ash from the fire had landed on cars and trucks parked at the shopping center, and several onlookers had snapped photographs of the blaze with their cameras and cellular phones.

Charles Shamash, the Beverly Hills-based attorney who represented Bananaz Grill & Bar Palm Desert Inc. in its federal bankruptcy filing, refused comment Friday. Neither club owner Tom Budniak, nor office manager Craig Marlar nor club manager Randy Adams could be reached for comment.

The fire was fully controlled by 9 a.m., but fire crews remained on the scene throughout the day conducting extensive mop-up and overhaul. Charred debris were piled in the empty parking lot that was blocked off by yellow tape. At 4 p.m. temporary fencing had arrived be erected around the building; a few firefighters remained at the scene.

Formerly one of the busiest nightclub restaurants in the area, Bananaz was put up for sale for $3 million, according to a Baxley Properties listing early this year. The sale listing came after the mortgage holder on the building and the land sought to foreclose on the property and its owners filed for bankruptcy protection.

Bananaz Grill & Bar Palm Desert Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection on June 24, 2003, after Zion National Bank of Utah started foreclosure proceedings. In June 2003, according to federal bankruptcy court records, the business filed for Chapter 11 protection. In September 2003, the case was dismissed and the file with the bankruptcy court closed in October 2003. In January 2004, the sale offering was reported. The Chapter 11 filing listed 25 creditors, ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to music-licensing giant BMI.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Taking a break from a really crazy day at work to observe that one of the last things I need is someone supposedly called "Umbraged L. Vegetative" emailing me to buy into some sort of penis-enlargement scheme...

I feel like I might be a character in some kind of updated Kafka novel...