Photos and Video: Wharf Tavern heavily damaged by storm surge

" title="wharftavern17" src="" alt="" width="560" height="398" /> Photos by Rich Dionne
Greg Esmay points out damage inside his Wharf Tavern restaurant just after 8:30 p.m. Monday.
Sandy's night time surge left over a foot of water in the dining room/bar.
It's been a tough year for Greg Esmay. In June, his restaurant, the Old Grist Mill in Seekonk, burned to the ground after a trucker struck the landmark off Route 44. Now, Mother Nature has claimed another victim —  his Wharf Tavern restaurant on Water Street.  A storm surge of four to six feet flooded the recently renovated Water Street restaurant at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, inundating the popular eatery in as much as a foot and a half of flood water. Click here to watch Mr. Esmay touring the Wharf Tavern just after high tide. Just as high tide hit Mr. Esmay waded over to the front door with two of his employees, turned a key and walked in. Back on shore in the Wharf's crushed quahog parking lot, a group of nearly a dozen curious spectators looked on, staying on high ground. "See, the hardwood floor is all buckling," he said, walking down the main entrance to the large dining room that looks out on the Warren River. In the main part of the restaurant the water was about 10 inches to a foot deep, enough to already be causing structural damage. "See that? The wall is starting to pull out behind the bar," he said, shining his small AA flashlight over to the large bar. "Stay toward the middle of the room, I don't want you to get too close to the wall." As he spoke, the building sighed and groaned, settling and flexing. Walking toward the back of the restaurant, Mr. Esmay and his employees pointed out preparations they made during the day, including moving tables, chairs and other appointments on top of bars and getting as much as they could out of harm's way. "The good news is nothing in the kitchen got wet," he said. Working his way toward the boardwalk that his carpenters replaced upon his purchase of the restaurant two years ago, he and the others walked out a sliding door to the deck, looking out at the Warren River. It completely enveloped the building as well as the bottom story of a private home just to the south. Though two years of work were lying flooded at his feet, Mr. Esmay said he and his employees will be OK. He said he has insurance to take care of the damage, though he acknowledges it will take some time — as the Grist Mill has taken. "What are you going to do? We thought we were just going to be able go without any problem. We didn't think a truck was going to hit (the Grist Mill) and I didn't plan on this. But  we'll be OK." He and his workers, he said, will be back first thing in the morning to start cleaning up and assessing the damage.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.