Years after the Millinocket Mill shut down and just weeks after the layoff at the mill in East Millinocket, many would think the town would disappear.
“I Don’t think that this town is just going to dry up and blow away,” says Dean Rodrigue.
Rodrigue is not one of those people. He’s in the first week of opening a new restaurant.
“This town has been through a lot of hardships in the past and it you know it’s taken a punch to the gut but it’s still here,” he says.
The new eatery has some locals confused.
“I was a little surprised considering the that the mills closed down and everything and that the industry is low here,” says Michelle Bond from Millinocket.
After selling another business, Rodrigue put his money toward the Sawmill Bar and Grill. Everything from the décor to the menu harkens back to Millinocket.
“Everything that we’ve done within the building we’re trying to kind of honor the history,” he said.
Just three days after opening, the Sawmill Bar and Grill is mostly full of locals, owners say their close location to Baxter State Park will bring in the tourists during summer.
“we’re hoping to have a small menus that hikers can come in and look at,” says Manager Angel Cyr.
Head bartender Aimee Stewart says so far locals are coming in.
“It’s been a good, busy three days…I would really like to see this place take off,” she says.
Rodrigue says he knows there’s a risk.
“The amount of money that flows through this town is diminished greatly from when the mill used to operate.”
But he’s not willing to give up on Millinocket just yet.
“I look to be here long term. It’s not something I want to walk away from any time soon.”