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Rochester

Palmyra Pizzeria Rises Again

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Rochester: Palmyra Pizzeria Rises Again
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At Mark's Pizzeria in Palmyra:

"Big day. Very big day."

You could feel the excitement. Of course, you could also smell it, and taste it.

"The best part of being in the pizza business is when the customers come down and you get to talk to them a little bit," said Mark Crane.

Grand openings are a big deal, but this grand opening is different than the others for the founder of the Mark's Pizzeria chain. Different because of how it came about.

"It's heartbreaking, really," said Michael Baretsky.

Crane will never forget that day this past May.

"I got the call and I was like holy cow," said Crane.

That day when he learned the pizza shop, and several buildings around it, were on fire.

"All these memories started going through my head, the building, and I was like, I'm sure they'll put it out. But that didn't happen."

The fire, set by an arsonist, burned the heart out of the middle of Palmyra.

"It was a dark time," said regional manager Michael Baretsky. "It was like a piece of our history just gone. It was pretty sad."

"That was one of those days that you'll never forget," said shop manager Shawn Norman. "We stood out back, ran the store from cell phones and other locations and watched it burn."

"Lost everything in that apartment," said Theresa Langshultz. She and her husband John lived upstairs from the pizza shop.

"What could I say. It was all black smoke, people choking, running, trying to get out. Real rough day," John said.

That rough day brought about this new day. The second grand opening for Mark's, in Palmyra.

"It took me a couple, two-three days before I really got it off my mind and focused on what I needed to do. But it bothered me a lot when it burned," Crane said.

For Mark, there was never any question as to whether the pizza shop would be rebuilt, and he insisted it had to be on the same spot, for special reason.

"It was really personal, because it's where I started."

Thirty-one years ago, Mark Crane opened his first pizza shop. Right here.

"It's good pizza," said Ron Valentine. He actually bought the shop's first pie.

"This was the dollar I pulled out. I dated it, that was it. And my brother came in later that night and did this one."

Now there's a new dollar to hang on the wall. A new beginning. But that same pizza, that's kept them coming in for years.

"It means a lot to get it open. I'm just running on full adrenaline. I'm really looking forward to it. I probably won't even sleep tonight," Crane said.

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