A Sad Good-Bye to Tacoma Pizza & Pipes
PSTOS members share with Dick and Margaret Daubert the heartbreak of losing
this memorable place, while finding consolation in recalling some of the
good times we've all enjoyed there.
On Tuesday, August 3rd, the last remaining Puget Sound area restaurant featuring live pipe organ music burned, ending 24 years of enjoyment for local theatre organ aficionados, Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society members, and visitors from around the world.
The fire began in a pizza oven heat duct in which grease had built up over many years. It made its way to an attic storage area where it became well established before being discovered. An employee noticed smoke coming from the area where the heat duct leaves the pizza oven, and after cutting the circuit breakers, he returned to find flames. He tried to put them out with a fire extinguisher but could not.
The approximately 30 customers in the building heard the voice on the
loudspeaker calmly instructing them to file out in an orderly fashion. The
manager then checked all the bathrooms and other places people might be,
having just enough time to get everybody out before the building filled
Plastic drink cups, melted from the intense heat, abandoned by patrons as they hurriedly exited the burning building
Fire Marshal Dave Dupille praised manager Lance Winchell for his excellent
job of evacuating people. Dick Daubert was called to the scene from home.
He was treated in an ambulance after catching a mouthful of smoke while
trying to show firefighters a way to attack the flames. It was to no avail.
The roof fell in. At that point the fire fighters had no choice but to
"surround and drown."
The building is not salvageable. The damage is estimated to be $1 million.
The last song played on the organ was "My Heart Lives On" from Titanic. How
appropriate! Sherrie Mael was playing.
Here, Sherrie is comforted by Dick Daubert as her husband, Tom, carries her music.
Ron Hemmi, Tony Miller, Eric Shoemaker and Jack Laffaw help with the salvage efforts.
Lance Winchell, General Manager, with Don Wallin, Eric Shoemaker and Dick Daubert, examine pipework.
The console is a complete loss, although the basic frame and shell might be restorable. Even though flames did not reach the pipe chamber, the intense heat penetrated the chamber glass and melted some of the metal pipes. Extensive water and smoke damage also affected most of the wood parts.
In the days following the fire, workers tried to open the chests and regulators to dry them, but it is unclear if they will be useable. Everything salvageable was purchased by Bob MacNeur and Jonas Nordwall of Portland.
Dick and Margaret built the restaurant and opened the business in 1975. Its
main attraction was the organ, a 1,200-pipe theatre organ that was built in
1930-only 100 of its size made by Wurlitzer. It was the restaurant's
centerpiece, which Dick had received in boxes and spent 15 months
Here, Dick, Margaret and Manager Lance Winchell try to put their best face forward in spite of the tragedy.
Although we all mourn this loss, we join the Dauberts in thanks that there
were no injuries nor loss of life.