SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — The Old Grist Mill Tavern in Seekonk has been closed since it was decimated in a fire two years ago – and the owner hopes to have the business back up and running this fall.
The beloved tavern burned to the ground in June of 2012 after a tractor trailer overturned and ruptured a nearby gas main, causing an explosion. Southern New Englanders were devastated when the more than 250-year-old restaurant was eaten away by flames and smoke.
Owner Greg Esmay was determined to reopen the Old Grist Mill, but wanted to make sure it stayed true to its historic past.
The restaurant was still very much a work site on Thursday, but it was clear that the project is nearing completion. The wood on the ceilings is nearly all original, the ducks adorning the walls are original, and Esmay didn’t even try to cover up some of the burnt edges on some of the signs around the building.
The new bar was made from an elm tree that was damaged in the fire.
“We didn’t try to take away the character, it’s what makes you who you are,” said Esmay. “It’s your history, and that’s what the Grist Mill is.”
The owner hopes to open the doors by the end of next month, erasing all the damage done by flames.
“Thirty years from now, it’s just talked about as a little blip in the history of the Grist Mill,” Esmay quipped.
Esmay said he plans to hold an opening event for anyone who wants to check out the place before it officially opens. Also, he said he’ll start accepting applications next week and plans to hire 50 employees.