County Executive Kevin Kamenetz joined Charles Village Pub owners Rick Bielksi, Melony and Eric Wagner Thursday morning to celebrate the official reopening of the Towson hot spot after a fire destroyed the old building in January 2011.
"I think it's an incredible testament to the owners, and really, the community who rallied around this establishment to make sure that this would once again return," said Kamenetz, who was flanked by county officials, including Fire Chief John Hohman, and firefighters from the Towson Fire Station No. 1.
Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, told the owners during the ceremony that she was "so thankful" that they have remained committed to Towson.
"I hear stories all the time from people who graduated from Towson University, and now their children are going there," she said. "You bring such fond memories to so many people."
Eric Wagner said that his initial reaction, as he stood watching the flames burn down the building where he worked, tended bar and ultimately met his wife, Melony, was "what do we do now?"
"That was a decision we had to make, whether we were going to rebuild," Eric Wagner said. "The outreach from the community, the response we got, just gave us so much enthusiasm to get this thing done."
Wagner thanked the emergency responders, as well as their architects at Sanders Designs and the builders from Bristol Construction.
He called the rebuilding process the most stressful moment of their lives, but said he was glad that it's finally over.
Charles Village Pub has been open to the public for several weeks now, drawing the Towson business crowd for lunch and happy hour and its usual clientele of college students.
In Hafford, and many of the other officials who gathered to celebrate the re-opening, Charles Village Pub has a loyal set of patrons who are excited for its return.
"The food is great, and they make a nice cocktail too," Hafford said.