OMAHA, Neb. -- Monday marked the beginning of new chapters at M's Pub with a soft opening, and the iconic restaurant honored Omaha firefighters with free food and drinks.
It has been nearly two years since a massive explosion rocked the Old Market. The downtown staple M's Pub was up in flames.
The restaurant hasn't let that day stop them, though. They've spent months rebuilding the space to get it ready for a reopening.
Monday night, they held an invite only soft opening, bringing people who helped rebuild the restaurant.
"When I saw those firefighters sitting there, I was like, 'That is so special. That is wonderful,'" former M's Pub employee Stacie Lamb said.
The nearly dozen firefighters sitting at the bar seemed to add to Monday's festivities. They were guests of honor and received their meal on the house.
"They fought so hard. They risked their lives. It's the least we can do," owner Ann Mellen said.
The firefighters were humble, telling our sister station WOWT 6 News they understood how incredibly special it was for them to be in attendance.
"We'd never look for any kind of recognition or any kind of pat on the back. It's just not the kind of people that we are, but we know this is very special for the Old Market," Omaha firefighter James Bosanek said.
For many on the department, walking back through the doors holds a special meaning. Many firefighters aren't able to revisit calls they've had, but the reopening is an exception they'll all make.
"We'd come down here on our days off. Some of us came here to our first date with our wives, so M's Pub is a very special place for us just like it is for everybody else in Omaha."
Bosanek tells 6 News several other firefighters have already booked reservations, and they couldn't be happier to see an Omaha staple beginning new chapters.
The new stories and restaurant are erasing the memory of one of the saddest days in the Old Market's history.
"It's still the same feel. There's just something about this places that transcends the building in a sense. There's almost like a ghost, a very big ghost that watches over this place," Lamb said.
Mellen tells 6 News the ambiance of the reopening and the setting of the restaurant makes it seem as though the fire never really happened.
The restaurant will be open to the public November 1, and they are currently accepting reservations.