"Business Better Than Ever" One Year After Arson

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A photo album sits on a ledge at the Marietta Wine Cellars as customers lunch and sip at tables surrounding it, the only hint of the tragedy the shop faced one year ago.

"These could never be replaced," says co-owner Mary Jane Phillips, cracking the leather-bound book to admire a set of unique and now-irreplaceable wine cases pictured inside. "The company that we had dealt with went out of business, so those were completely gone."

The photos in the cabernet-colored album were taken when she and her husband, Al, moved the decade-old store to a more desirable Front Street location- just six weeks before losing it to arson.

"It was just like, you go down there and you think, 'Oh no. It can't be,'" she said, recalling how discovering the blaze felt when a minor electrical fire had caused damage to the store four days prior. "It was just hard to believe anything like that could happen, but, it did."

As she watched her livelihood burn before her eyes, Phillips wasn't thinking of rebuilding.

But, things changed.

"We had so much support coming in at that time that my husband looked at me and said, 'You know, we can't just give up.'"

So the store relocated for its fourth time since 2000; one block East, to its current home on Second Street.

A more open location, the building boasts twice the retail space of its predecessor on 190 Front Street.

The extra room has provided the Wine Cellar owners with some newly-found business opportunities.

"We didn't have a lounge area before, so now we have the 'Wine-Down Time' on Friday nights, which we would have never probably had down [on Front]."

In addition to that, the couple now offers a lunch menu that gives what they say is a nice pop in business on what would otherwise be slow week days.

They say they're doing better than ever before in the new space.

"I guess things just work out in mysterious ways and you take whatever... is handed to you," said Phillips.

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