Exterior of Pepe's Bistro
Pepe’s Bistro, 1311 S. 11th St., which has become a fixture in the neighborhood, recently held a fundraiser for a family who lost their home in a fire. Haley Elder/NNS

By Lauren Dietrich and Haley Elder

On Sunday, March 27, Pepe’s Bistro had customers in and out of its doors all day, yet the business didn’t make a cent.

The vegan kitchen, located off of 11th and B streets, held a benefit for a family whose house was destroyed in a March 14 fire. A few volunteers prepared Pepe’s menu of burritos, pumpkin empanadas and cucumber lemonade — and 100% of the proceeds were donated to the family. 

The Shannon family’s house was a street away from Pepe’s Bistro. Shiona Shannon and her three children, all under the age of 10, survived the fire, but lost two of their dogs. A third survived, but is blind and will need ongoing medical treatment to continue to heal.

“They lost everything in the fire,” said Pepe Fierro, owner of Pepe’s Bistro. “And so this is to kind of help get them back on their feet.”

Fierro, who has done many fundraisers in the past, said he just felt he was doing his part.

“The community has been coming together in different ways, so I’m just part of the community doing my part,” Fierro said. “We can all do a little bit of something. There’s a lot going on in the world, but if we can all take care of our corners, then we will be alright.”

Many who know the Shannon family attended the fundraiser, including Alisha Taylor, who works as a special education paraprofessional at Everett Elementary, where the three Shannon children attend. She said she came to the fundraiser to show her support for the family and the school. She said many families at the Title I school don’t have much to begin with, making the tragedy that more difficult. 

“I hope they can get all the help that they need,” Taylor said. “And I mean, for anybody to lose everything is, you know, very difficult.” 

Ruth Sorilla, an after-school club leader at Everett Elementary, came with her seventh-grade daughter to volunteer at the fundraiser, making burritos and running the cash register.

Sorilla said one of the Shannon daughters is in her club, and when she found out what happened to her home, she knew she wanted to help.

“When I found out what Pepe was organizing, I had to be here,” Sorilla said.

She said the fundraiser is a perfect example of Fierro’s community impact.

“Pepe organizes the community,” she said. “Pepe also gives purpose to our community and leads by example. Of what we can do when we work together, he exemplifies that.”

Fierro said he is a believer in the power of the Lincoln community and he urges all small business owners in low-income neighborhoods like his to help out where they can.

“When I came to Lincoln in 2004, I was living out of my car,” Fierro said. “And this is how great this community is. In 2004 I was living out of my car, and in 2008, I opened my own business. That’s because the community came together and helped me get back on my feet and get me out of the car from the alleys. And this is how it works.”

To support the Shannon family visit the GoFundMe at https://gofund.me/1844bf64

I'm a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln double-majoring in Journalism and Advertising with a minor in business. Throughout college I have held internships reporting for Nebraska Public Media and the Lincoln Journal Star.