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Owners of destroyed Marissa restaurant hope to rebuild

Owners hope to rebuild after fire destroys The Antique Station in Marissa

The owners of The Antique Station in Marissa say they are hoping to rebuild after a fire on Christmas Eve destroyed the popular restaurant and gathering place in the Southern Illinois town.
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The owners of The Antique Station in Marissa say they are hoping to rebuild after a fire on Christmas Eve destroyed the popular restaurant and gathering place in the Southern Illinois town.

The Antique Station was the kind of small-town restaurant that gave the community a place to gather, one of the only options in town.

On Christmas Eve, a fire devastated the restaurant and the adjacent antique store at 320 East Lyons St. The blaze left only rubble and a few concrete walls around the front of the building.

Investigators have not yet identified the cause of the fire, said Greg Vespa, an Illinois State Fire Marshal’s investigator. He was on scene Tuesday morning with personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The fire broke out before 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 24 and flames quickly spread to the roof. The restaurant was closed at the time. After a half-hour of battling flames, firefighters were called out of the building, according to St. Clair County Emergency Management. Shortly thereafter, the roof collapsed.

Nobody was hurt, and that’s a blessing in itself.

Antique Station co-owner Matt Hoffmann

The ill-timed fire comes a little less than five months after three new owners acquired the property and began renovations on the aging building. The trio were planning on opening a new event space, installing a new heating and air conditioning system, and renovating the building’s facade.

“I’m still just pretty surprised,” said co-owner Patrick Miesner, adding that he was “really appreciative” of the firefighters from seven area fire departments who responded to the call. “They made it here before I did, and I live right across town.”

Some firefighters were at church celebrating Christmas Eve when the call came in, Miesner said. They arrived at the scene with suits and ties underneath their firefighting gear. Another co-owner, Matt Hoffmann, was at home with his family celebrating Hanukkah, which began on the same night as Christmas Eve this year.

Hoffmann said the new HVAC system was sitting uninstalled in the building when the fire consumed it and everything else.

A structure on East Lyons Street in Marissa caught fire Christmas Eve.

“We’re just happy they (firefighters) got it under control before it spread,” Hoffmann said. Siding on a neighboring home only sustained surface damage. “Nobody was hurt, and that’s a blessing in itself,” Hoffmann said.

This was a town anchor. It was a place in town where people come together, and it currently doesn’t really have that. It meant a lot to these people.

Antique Station co-owner Matt Hoffmann

The co-owners say they plan to demolish the ruined building, and hope to build a new community gathering place.

“This was a town anchor. It was a place in town where people come together, and it currently doesn’t really have that. It meant a lot to these people,” Hoffmann said. “We’re going to get past the sting first, and after we know more, the given is that this place served the community in a way that needs to continue.”

More than 15 individuals lost their jobs when the restaurant burned, Hoffmann added.

“But I believe God has a plan, even though this was tragic. I think he still has a plan for it in the community. We look forward to finding out what that is,” Hoffmann said.

The restaurant has been a Marissa mainstay since at least 2005, Hoffmann said. In its previous lives, the property was used as a tire shop, an ice cream parlor and a car dealership, among other purposes.

Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @kelseylandis

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