Owner: Old Grist Mill Tavern to open soon

The Old Grist Mill Tavern in Seekonk plans to open early next year, the restaurant's owner said Tuesday.

The restaurant was destroyed in June 2012 after a tractor-trailer truck carrying bananas rolled over, struck a gas meter and caused an explosion.

Greg Esmay said replacing the restaurant, which was built in 1745, has not been easy.

"If you had this property and said you wanted to put a building here, you could never do it," he said.

And Esmay didn't just want to put any building on the same spot, he wanted the same building.

He said the sign that was on the outside of the building was saved.

"They took it down while the fire was going on so I wouldn't lose it," Esmay said.

And when the original wood wasn't available, he said he just took wood from a tree lost in the fire.

Pointing to the bar top and wine rack, Esmay said, "All this is being built from an elm tree that was growing on the property for we figure at least 150 years."

Esmay also said they uncovered a few mill secrets, including an old turbine that might have been put in during the 1800s.

Esmay said as the construction continued, it was stopped several times for permit issues. The final halt came over the summer over a foundation that was less than a half a foot too close to the road.

"We didn't argue that. We just cut four inches off the length of the property and said, 'Good. Let's go.'" He said.

Esmay said he feels a connection to the unique building where he shared family meals with his grandparents, and takes pride in what he's found and saved here.