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Ahead of opening, Ophelia’s discovers underground cellar

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Last edited 1:47 p.m., Sept. 8, 2017

The reason for Ophelia’s renovation delays has been unearthed.

Owners Tom and Lori Muetzel, who closed the bar previously operating downtown in mid-2015, had been targeting a March relaunch at 300 E. Commercial St. Five months later, Tom Muetzel issued a news release today indicating the extensive renovation of the 150-year-old building uncovered a cellar beneath the basement.

The original plans for the brick building owned by Joe and Craig Hosmer of Northbridge 300 LLC included second-story lofts, a ground floor restaurant and a grand staircase descending into the basement bar lined with the original stone walls, according to the release. Joan Hand with Hand Architecture LLC was hired to give the basement bar a speakeasy vibe with a planned extensive menu of absinthe.

In June, Arch Contracting LLC began work to increase the basement height to nine feet by removing up to three feet of concrete and soil from the floor. During the process, turn-of-the-century items, such as bottles, shoes and bowls, were discovered – along with the top of a stone archway. After carefully uncovering the structure, the release said, an entry to an underground cellar was revealed – complete with stone walls and a barrel-vaulted ceiling. It took seven weeks to remove spring water and debris, finally giving a full look at the extent of the space. It is 40 feet by 16 feet, with an eight-foot ceiling, and an entrance at each end.

The Muetzels plan to utilize the previously unknown room as an addition to the main basement bar and as a private dining space. A new planned opening date was not stated in the release.

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