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Historic smokehouse rises from the ashes

WARRENSBURG - One day in January, an electrician powered up a sign hanging above the entrance to the brand-new building that now hosts Oscar's Smoke House, which has been closed since a devastating fire Sept. 4 that turned the historic structure into ruins.

Soon after the sign was illuminated, several dozen people drove up the hill to the legendary business, where generations have bought their smoked meats and cheeses, to see if Oscar's Smoke House was now open.

But Oscar's will be reopening Saturday Feb. 20 with great fanfare, and the public is invited. Community leaders from all over the Adirondacks are expected to attend, as well as hundreds of long-time fans of the products, and friends of the owners, the Quintal family.

Thursday, Jerry and Joq Quintal reflected on what it was like to reopen after months of recovery from the fire, with demolition of the old store and smoke house, then designing, planning, equipping, and resuscitating their business.

"It's like losing a child, and then a new baby being born," Jerry Quintal said, noting that although a lifetime of memories were invested in he old building, the new one offers a new beginning and new opportunities.

The old building was a maze of additions and isolated rooms. The new building, designed for efficiency, is the same size, but has considerably more workspace and retail area for customers. Instead of 12 feet of main display coolers, 32 feet will show off their meats and cheeses. Plus, a bank of auxiliary coolers will show off their specialty items.

The charm of the original building has been retained, as the original Oscar's pig character was restored by neighbor John Richardson, cedar trunks hide the building's steel pillars, the walls are covered by knotty-pine wainscoting, and a lot of the original, historic furnishings that were pulled from the fire have been retained.

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