Black Seal Reopens to Eager Customers After 2020 Fire

ESSEX — Closed for over a year to repair damage from a fire last January, the Black Seal restaurant on Main St. in Essex Village reopened to eager customers last weekend.

“We had people out there at 11, 11:15, waiting to get in to their usual bar seat,” Black Seal owner Mauricio Salgar said. “People were waiting for take out everywhere.”

Salgar said he didn’t publicize the soft opening last weekend because he didn’t want the restaurant to be overwhelmed after being closed for 13 months. But in a small town like Essex, word travels quickly.

“One person finds out, and then, they’re regulars, so they all talk to each other,” he said. 

Early in the morning last Jan. 6, the fire started behind equipment in the kitchen, burned the back and side walls of the kitchen, climbed up the outside wall to the second floor and burned across the floor above the tin ceiling, Salgar said. Along with the damage from the fire in the kitchen, smoke spread into the dining room and bar, and the upstairs office, he said.

“We ended up re-doing the upstairs area, the whole kitchen is re-done, and it took a while to get the smoke out, but we got it,” Salgar said. 

Originally, Salgar thought the Black Seal would be closed for maybe three months. Then he learned the electrical system, security system, fire system and ventilation system all had to be replaced. Three months turned into 13 months.

“Everyone signed off last Thursday, finally,” Salgar said.

Salgar did take the opportunity to re-do the bar area, pushing the bar back and adding new cabinetry while trying to keep the same atmosphere, he said. They also added plexiglass at the bar for COVID precautions.

“Everyone loved it,” he said. “It’s a great, great feeling.”

The restaurant kept basically the same menu, he said. The restaurant is open now at half capacity, and everything is available to go.

“Come on in,” Salgar said.

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