Let’s be honest: The restaurant biz can be scary! Spooky apparitions in the form of the health inspector, nightmare interactions with difficult customers that haunt you long after closing, and that creeping feeling that something’s gone rotten in the walk-in fridge…it’s enough to keep any restaurateur up at night. As Halloween approaches, however, we rounded up some restaurants and bars across the country that are actually haunted—or are at least rumored to be. From long-dead proprietors who just can’t seem to quit to patrons who have lingered past last call, these eateries are serving up a large side of fright with every meal. And customers keep coming back hungry for more.
New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in the country—you’re as likely to run into a ghost (or at least a ghost tour) in the French Quarter as you are a pack of drunken bachelorettes—and Muriel’s is one of the most haunted restaurants in town. Legend has it that the multi-level eatery serving traditional Creole cuisine just off Bourbon Street is haunted by the spirit of its former owner, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, who committed suicide in the grand manse’s slave quarters after losing his home in an ill-fated wager. Today, guests flock to Muriel’s for jazz brunch and to catch a paranormal buzz while exploring the lavishly decorated rooms—including Muriel’s Seance Lounges, where guests swear they feel an otherworldly presence.
The scariest thing about this Hoboken watering hole isn’t packs of fist-pumping Jersey bros thirsty for happy hour specials. Actually, the Brass Rail is more likely to be frequented by a Metropolitan brunch crowd seeking spicy Bloodies and short rib omelets than Pauly D lookalikes dodging grenades. But the more than century-old bar also counts a pair of ghosts as permanent guests—a tragically-fated bride and groom, to be exact. The story goes that in 1904, a would-be bride fell down the building’s spiral staircase, breaking her neck. Her distraught fiancé took his own life that same evening, hanging himself upstairs (now a separate dining area). Now he and his beloved haunt the bar until the eternal last call—as do the apparitions of wedding guests patrons and employees have spotted descending the staircase.
Charleston is another Southern city with a rich Gothic history—and an increasingly vibrant culinary scene. This stately downtown Victorian home was turned into a restaurant in the late 1970s but it’s rumored to have been haunted long before that, by the ghost of a former resident, a spinster schoolteacher named Zoe who lived a solitary life with her sister and was such a homebody she’s chosen to remain there for all of a time. And Zoe isn’t the only soul haunting Poogan’s—the restaurant is also known to be home to the spirit of its namesake, a friendly white dog whose grave guests can visit onsite.
These eateries are serving up a large side of fright with every meal.
Now a farm-to-table eatery, this former Michigan inn’s ghost story is a dark one. Local lore has it that the lady of the house was a fat and spiteful woman, who had an elevator built in the home to carry her large weight from floor to floor. When her dissatisfied husband died, he left all his riches to his mistress, bequeathing his scorned wife only the inn in his will. Allegedly, she then hung herself in the elevator shaft, an eternal prison she had, in effect, built for herself. Patrons and staff alike have reported paranormal activity that reflects her troubled spirit—flickering lights, objects crashing off the walls, and sightings of the one-time lady of the house appearing in photographs.
The haunting of this Kansas City hotspot will only spook non-smoking guests. Succotash’s owner and some of her customers have been known to smell the faint odor of cigarillos at the restaurant’s bar—evidence of the genial presence of a long-ago patron named Radar, who smoked at the same bar back when the bustling bruncheonette was a saloon.
Self-proclaimed as “the most haunted restaurant in Texas,” this stately Victorian structure located just outside Dallas was built in the late 1800’s and certainly looks the part. The ghostly activity at the Catfish is active indeed—it’s more Poltergeist than Casper—and includes dishware flying across the room, smashing into walls and often narrowly missing employees. Unlucky staffers have been hit by airborne food as well, and both wait-staff and guests have reported experiences of a wide variety, from sightings of a woman in a wedding dress to actual physical contact like a tugged ponytail. So frequent is the activity, the Travel Channel filmed a segment about it—and the restaurant invites and encourages paranormal investigations on premises.
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There are said to be more than just downtown hipsters haunting this popular West Village eatery. In fact, there have been reports that more than 20 ghosts rattle the dishes at One if By Land, Two if By Sea—and some employees have been so spooked they’ve quit. But it hasn’t hurt business at the romantic NYC boîte, which was also once used as Vice President Aaron Burr’s carriage house. Guests seem unperturbed by all the ghostly activity, which include classic paranormal pranks like tilted picture frames, items (like a guests earrings) mysteriously gone missing, and flickering lights.
The owners of and guests at this bustling Irish pub in Phoenix have reported seeing a number of different spirits partying alongside patrons, including a man and woman in old-fashioned dress dancing in the upstairs dining room. Guests have also reported more hands-on experiences—spirits have been known to tease diners by pulling on neckties and knocking silverware off tables—but perhaps it’s all just a bit of good craic.
There is a lot of speculation about just who haunts this storied tavern located in a suburb some 40 minutes southwest of Boston—and how they died. So much speculation, in fact, that the Discovery Channel filmed an episode of Ghost Lab on the premises, and more than a few paranormal investigators have visited the site. The mysteries remain unsolved however, with one popular legend recounting the story of a young girl who was hit by a train and brought into the tavern to die, while other tales speak of ties to the Underground Railroad. Whatever the origin, experts seem to have no doubt Stone’s is haunted and many locals have reported hearing unexplained noises in and around the pub.
This South Carolina wine bistro is such a hotbed of ghostly activity, author and paranormal researcher Stephen Lancaster recently spent a year filming an entire documentary about it. The Brentwood looks every inch the part of a haunted Southern Gothic manse, complete with huge wraparound porch, all the better for restless spirit pacing. The activity here has included faces appearing in windows, orbs appearing in photographs, the eerie sounds of sighs and mutters, and reports of an unsettling feeling one gets when standing in an upstairs bathroom—all the makings of a classic ghost story. It’s no wonder the Brentwood offers ghost tours along with dinner service.