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EXCLUSIVE: What's next for Malvern's fire-damaged Mulholland Grocery?

Clean-up and rebuilding begins as store rises from the ashes
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 19:48:06-04

MALVERN, Iowa (KMTV) — In December, a devastating fire followed by a powerful storm demolished Mulholland Grocery in Malvern. The family-run store is more than a century old and owner Tom Mulholland announced in January that he would rebuild and reopen.

It's finally all happening. This week, clean-up began six months after the fire.

People in Malvern all say they want the same thing: for the "cornerstone" of the community to come back.

"That's about an everyday need, is groceries of some sort — your meat, breads, vegetables, all that. It's just good to have that convenience still there instead of having to go out of town somewhere," resident David Roenfeld said.

"We kind of depended on it. We thought it was gonna be here. And when it's taken away we're all at a loss. It's like: 'What is happening here?'" resident Mary Poort said.

Owner Tom Mulholland's family ran the store for more than a century through several generations. Losing it changed his outlook.

"Sitting back for so long and just waiting and waiting and waiting, and being so frustrated because nothing was happening, and now finally actually seeing some visible progress — that's made such a difference," Mulholland said.

Beyond the clean-up, a construction team and architect have been picked out for the new site. Still, Mulholland carries a "piece of the past."

"It was so much of our history and something that meant so much to my family," he said.

He's looking at ways to save the bricks from the old building.

"Some of the ideas that people gave me just last night — maybe a sidewalk, maybe with the bricks — or a wall for some of the bigger donations, you know, have them monogrammed with their names like you see in so many areas. We're still trying to put that together," Mulholland said.

While he hopes to preserve the past, he looks to the future; buying a painting from local artist Zack Jones called "Rise of the Phoenix," which shows a phoenix rising from the grocery store's fiery ashes. He carries a picture of it on his phone.

"I broke down crying when I saw it and I do every time when I think about it. It's just so powerful in what it means to me," Mulholland said.

A reopening date hasn't been set yet. He expects it could be next spring.

Jones' painting was recently part of an exhibit at PACE in Council Bluffs

New exhibit opens Friday at PACE in Council Bluffs; free reception will honor winning artist

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