May 12. 2013 9:54PM

Back in business

Weare Center Store is back in business after fire

Union Leader Correspondent

After a fire destroyed part of the building last year, the Weare Center Store is back in business. Nancy Bean Foster 

WEARE — Though gutted by fire last summer, the Weare Center Store is back in business and better than ever, according to owner Ali Rustam.

On July 23, 2012, a three-alarm blaze tore through an addition to the Center Store, destroying that part of the building and causing the roof to collapse.

Smoke and water damage to the main building and the apartment on the second floor also wreaked havoc.

Luckily, Ali Rustam said, the store he has owned with his brother Mohammad Nowaz for two-and-a-half years was insured.

The process to rebuild the store, located across the street from the Weare Middle School has taken the better part of the last year, but early this month the Weare Center Store reopened.

"It was hard to see the store destroyed," said Rustam. "But it is better than before. People are very happy we are open. The neighborhood is very happy."

Crisp white walls and new fixtures greet customers from town stopping in for milk, bread or a snack, and Rustam said that people who used to shop at the store before the fire will find familiar brands.

"Everything is pretty much the same," he said. "We have what people like."

But a new staircase leading from the parking lot to the store, saving people from having to walk around the building to the front entrance, has received a lot of praise from returning locals.

The apartment on the second floor of the building has also been completely restored, said Rustam.

The cause of the fire was never determined, according to the state Fire Marshal's office, however it did not appear that the fire was suspicious in nature.