With so many restaurants set in older, historical buildings, it's no surprise that some eateries are believed to be haunted by old regulars and owners and/or murdered former inhabitants. With Halloween just around the corner, we're getting into the spirit of things by getting into some spirits (and we're not talking about cocktails). Here are nine of the spookiest restaurants in the U.S. - read on to hear their real-life ghost stories.
Arnaud’s, New Orleans, LA
It’s no surprise that one of the most storied French Quarter restaurants has an otherworldly presence. New Orleans, after all, has year-round ghost tours, is home to Anne Rice and has been dubbed “The Most Haunted City in America.” Employees and guests have seen more than one ghost at Arnaud's - often times a man in a tuxedo, who many believe to be the original owner, Arnaud Cazenave, a French wine salesman who bought the space in 1918. Katy Casbarian, co-proprietor of the famed mainstay that her family has run for over 30 years, confirms a paranormal existence. “I’ve definitely felt a presence, especially on the second floor. I felt a cold breeze brush right by me, and I had all the hair on my arms stand up. I believe enough in it to respect them, to leave them alone and let them have their place here.”
Parkview Restaurant, Owego, NY
Paranormal professionals investigated this historical property and restaurant, built in 1867, and recorded several different voices. Owner Beth Johnson who purchased the Parkview in 2011, renovated and repaired the Irish pub and restaurant with her husband Mark, and they opened their doors in 2012. Both attest to spirits and secrets—like a mysterious chiming dinner bell and a sealed-up, hidden room later discovered by Beth. It should be no surprise that the restaurant is hosting Owego's first Zombie Fest this year complete with Halloween specials and a “Thriller” dance party.
Herringbone, La Jolla, CA
Set in idyllic La Jolla, this coastal restaurant is reportedly haunted by its former owner, C. Arnholt Smith, a prominent businessman and original owner of the San Diego Padres. Smith, nicknamed "Mr. San Diego," used the property as a car dealership and eventually turned it into a wine business run by his son briefly in the 1970s. Once that closed, the space went unoccupied until very recently. When Smith died in 1996 at age 97, his ex-wife Maria believed his spirit was scaring potential tenants away (haunting it for 14 years). When Maria passed away in 2010, Herringbone owners snapped up the long-vacant warehouse. During the renovations, contractors sensed something, and there was more than one sighting of unexplained shadows reported. Executive chef Brian Malarkey and business partner James Brennan absolutely believe in the spirit of its previous occupant, but also believe it’s friendly - and thirsty. When there's an empty stool at the bar, the bartenders often leave a drink in front of it.
Edgar Allen Poe spent many hours in the building that houses Il Buco on Bond Street, which was a tavern during Poe’s time, and it’s said that the space inspired him to write The Cask of Amontillado. Today, the wine cellar is over 200 years old and is said to be haunted. Owner Donna Lennard can attest to that: after an experience she had herself following a visit from a team of real-life ghost busters, who felt a serious presence.
“At the bottom of the steps, they had a vision of a struggle between a man and a woman. They followed the ghosts into the wine cellar and heard a baby crying,” Lennard said. “They sensed that the woman had been murdered downstairs, and the ghost busters spent hours downstairs clearing the space of spirits.”
Later, Lennard was downstairs with her partner, Alberto, when she felt strange energy. “There was a picture in a frame propped against the side of the wall. We were standing there to get a sense of the space and suddenly the frame crashed onto the floor. We jumped out of our skin and ran upstairs. For the next few months, I was not comfortable going down to the cellar at night!”
Julep’s, Richmond, VA
Back in 1826, before Julep was a restaurant in Richmond’s oldest commercial building, it was a weapon shop where a man was murdered. Today, the ghost of that man, Daniel Denoon, an apprentice gunsmith, is said to haunt the River District restaurant. After James McNaught, the weapon shop owner, shot Denoon, the store quickly closed, McNaught committed suicide after being jailed, and the building had trouble staying in business, despite the prime location. The space was later occupied by other businesses, until Julep moved in and occupied the space in 2003. During the remodeling, the stairs Denoon fell down were closed off and turned into a storage closet, and it’s been reported that people hear thumps and noises coming from the haunted space.
Restaurant 1833, Monterey, CA
Some ghosts are more recognizable than others, and such is the case at this James Beard-nominated restaurant in Monterey, where the history is revered and so are the spirits of the past. Seen in the 180-year-old adobe house is socialite Hattie Gregg, who entertained at the property years ago. Today, Gregg’s former bedroom is now her namesake dining room where she is known to linger. According to legend, Hattie is known for playing tricks on diners, like knocking over a wine glass at dinner. Not to be outdone, guests have also claimed to see the ghost of James Stokes, a British sailor that went AWOL in Monterey and posed as a doctor before serving as mayor, after the governor of Monterey mysteriously died under his care. As Restaurant 1833 is housed in the Stokes Building, it’s likely that the ghost spotted wandering through the walls in a white doctor’s coat is indeed James himself.
Miles Wine Cellars, Himrod, NY
Situated in a mansion on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, the Miles family has owned the winery since the early 1980s - and they have had many ghostly encounters over the years. Owners Doug Miles and Susan Hayes, who live in the over-200-year-old home, have heard doors slam and footsteps in their kitchen, and have had visions of a couple throughout the mansion. Rather than run away, the couple has embraced the spirits, and Miles Wine Cellar now produces a “Ghost” wine, a Chardonnay and Cayuga blend.
Stone's Public House, Ashland, ME
In 1834 John Stone built a hotel alongside a soon-to-be railroad line in a small town in Maine. Over the years it fell into disrepair, and when Leonard “Cappy” Fournier purchased it in 1976, the new owner noticed some paranormal activity in the old building, including lights that would turn on and off on their own and doors that wouldn’t stay bolted. He brought in professionals who confirmed there were spirits in one particular upstairs room. One theory is it’s the lingering spirit of a victim who died in the house after a card game dispute got ugly. According to legend, John Stone was playing with a few locals and a traveling salesman; Stone accused the out-of-towner of cheating, knocking him on the head and accidentally killing him. Allegedly the men buried the body in the basement, though no one has ever found it, resulting in years of ghost stories at this quaint New England restaurant.
The Campbell Apartment, New York, NY
At Campbell Apartment - the former office space of John Campbell, president and chairman of Credit Clearing House, and now home to a swank cocktail bar in Grand Central Terminal - staff and customers have a growing list of eerie experiences from time spent in the storied space. Patrons and employees have noticed taps from behind without anyone in sight, sounds of an organ playing, unexplained gusts of cold air, and doors mysteriously shutting on their own. Current owner Mark Grossich has confirmed the ghostly occurrences and believes it is John W. Campbell, who died in 1957 and who is lingering on in the space he transformed back in 1923.