SKOWHEGAN — The town’s longtime road commissioner and chairman of a group proposing a whitewater rafting park in the Kennebec River Gorge through downtown is buying the landmark Old Mill Pub.
Greg Dore, along with his wife, Paula, and four sons, said they have the financing in place and are set to complete the sale today. The 1909 former grain mill, which stands high atop rugged ledges at the head of the gorge, will open under new management Oct. 26.
The Dores said they will be the silent partners at the restaurant, cooking an occasional appetizer, baby-sitting their grandchildren and hostessing once in a while. Sons Patrick and his wife, Erin; Ben and his wife, Christen; Eric and his wife, Sarah; and Joshua will be the operating partners — The Dore Group LLC.
Eric, 33, who lives in Windham, will be the general manager; Christen, 30, the bar manager; and Patrick, 31, who lives in South Portland, the finance manager.
“Our sons and us — we love Skowhegan; we believe in Skowhegan and we feel that we can help to bring people to Skowhegan,” Paula Dore said. “We think that the Old Mill Pub is such an iconic building that we feel very lucky to have come upon this opportunity.”
Greg Dore said he and his wife raised their five boys in Skowhegan before they moved in 2007 to the lakeshore in East Madison, and it was time to give something back to the town.
Dore said family members agreed several years ago to invest in a business in Skowhegan and thought a seven-days-a-week restaurant would be the best idea.
They began to set money aside, and when they heard the pub was up for sale in August, they responded.
The Dore Group LLC will own just the business for now, Greg Dore said. The building is owned by William Perkins. Dore said his family hopes to buy the four-story brick structure as well.
The Dores would not disclose what they are paying for the business, nor would they say how much the building would sell for.
Scott and Patty Berry, of Skowhegan, are selling the successful restaurant business, Patty Berry said Thursday, because it is time for a change. They have owned and operated the business for six years.
“It’s just time to move on to a different adventure,” she said. “It’s been a great run. We appreciate all the support from the people in the area.”
Christen Dore, current bar manager at the pub, said the menu will be tweaked a little to reflect her family’s favorite food, such as Greg Dore’s prosciutto-and-asparagus appetizer and some differentchicken and steak dishes, but the fare will remain pub style, as it has been.
They plan to organize community events at the restaurant, such as family nights, 21-plus evenings, Sunday brunch, live music and holiday-themed parties. She said the current staff will be retained.
As for the Run of River project, Greg Dore said the white-water park will complement the restaurant business.
“It was just a plus,” he said. “The family was looking for a restaurant to purchase, and when the pub came up, it was just a win-win situation. The people that come to play in the river will have to eat. We’re close and we’re right on the river, which is probably something they would appreciate — the ambiance of being on the river.”
Dore said the white-water project has been 10 years in the making. Grants have been received, a trail was built on the south side of the river for scenic lookouts and river access, and a drawing of a computer model of the park is ready for the final phase — fundraising for construction.
The park would begin about 700 feet downriver from the pub, where the new Debe Park Trail meets the waterline on the south side of the river.
The park would be constructed all the way to the Great Eddy of the Kennebec River for a total of about 1,700 feet of water holes, ramps and tubes made of rocks and concrete to make standing waves and rapids for kayaks, tubes and canoes, he said.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367