Halloween may be months away, but when ghosts inhabit restaurants, you can get spooky any time of year. From silvery apparitions to bottles flying through the air, ghosts add an element of character to restaurants, both old and new, that make dining experiences all the more interesting.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the more notable haunted restaurants in the United States, though there are many, many more. Even if you’re scared, they’re definitely worth a visit. After all, when a restaurant is haunted, you’ll never eat alone.
San Francisco, California
Visitors to this 24 hour greasy spoon in SF’s touristy Union Square area might notice a unique addendum to the menu: no poached eggs. The reason behind this otherwise innocuous dish has a dastardly origin: in 1997 a cook murdered a waitress in cold blood after she rebuked him for cooking a customer poached eggs, which were off menu. It may be tempting to order them just to see what happens, but you may end up calling forth the waitress’s ghost instead of eating breakfast.
This charming old restaurant, built in 1834 to accommodate the new railroad built through town, has been a spooky staple ever since the original owner John Stone, died in 1858. Intrigued psychics and mystics have determined that to this day the restaurant is haunted by seven to eight spirits, but it was only in 1984 that one psychic was able to determine that a particular ghost is a named Michael, who was killed by John Stone over a matter of gambling money. Brave diners can witness birdseed falling through the ceiling, water taps going off and on, and getting tapped on the shoulder only to turn around and find no one there.
Gadsby’s Tavern was built in 1785, but it was in 1814 that the hauntings began. This mysterious spirit lived a mysterious life, both belonging to a woman who arrived suddenly with her husband, dying only three weeks after holing up in the tavern’s Room 8 to convalesce. She was buried in Alexandria in an extravagant manner, her husband having borrowed money from a local merchant and having ultimately skipping out on what he owed. Two centuries later, visitors still claim they see her standing at the window of the room where she died, holding a candle in her hand, perhaps waiting for that debt to be repaid.
It’s easy to think of people dying in Arizona as being grumpy about it, which is why Casey Moore’s has multiple spirits taking out their posthumous anger on guests. Some say a woman named Sarah who died at the hands of her abusive boyfriend is spending her afterlife in the dining room, while others contend that the little boy featured in a photo found during renovations wanders the building at all times. Either these stories are true, or your friends are just scamming you out of a few oysters when you’re looking the other way.
The South seems like a wonderful place to haunt people, what with the stately plantation buildings and mirage-inducing weather, and of course the contentious history. The Moon River Brewery occupies one of the oldest buildings in the area, built in 1821 and callled the City Hotel at that time. It was a hotbed of violent behavior, from Civil War-induced differences to generic bar brawls, except these were deadly. Disgruntled spirits include a Northerner who was killed by locals in 1860, and Toby, who won’t be contented until he’s participated in more fights. These spirits keep the violent history of the building alive, throwing bottles across the room and even going so far as to push and hit guests by what appears to be nothing at all. The restaurant has embraced these spirits, brewing up their very own Apparition Ale in homage.
New York, New York
New York City has plenty of Italian restaurants to choose from, but only one gets to boast that it shared a building with mysterious poet and author Edgar Allen Poe. Much of the inspiration for Poe’s work came from the restaurant itself, and not just because it simply looked the part. Visitors to the 200-year-old wine cellar, which serves as a private dining room these days, may notice that wine bottles will have opened and drunk themselves. Whether that’s the ghost of Poe returning to his favorite watering hole, or spirits that haunted the place during his lifetime, is up to you to decide.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Let’s be honest – you could wear a blindfold and randomly pick any restaurant in New Orleans and there’s a good chance it would be haunted. So what makes Arnaud’s so extra-spooky? Rather than try to rid the building of their ghost, the owners of Arnaud’s welcome the added element that all the spirits bring. This includes the tuxedo-clad ghost who appears smiling during the busiest of times, most likely Count Arnaud himself. Another well-dressed spirit is that of a behatted woman, who exits the bathroom and moves through a wall, which was constructed only recently, but used to be the entrance to a staircase. All of these characters only contribute to the legacy of Arnaud’s: as the restaurant says, “even ghosts have their favorite haunts.”
Main photo by carlos-pacheco