We Would Absolutely Haunt a Restaurant If We Had The Choice
You saw what now?
October 31, 2017 ● 5 min read
Image CurvaBezier via iStock
Is there anywhere creepier than a restaurant in its off-off hours?
Okay, fine, ancient graveyards and silent morgues probably whoop our butts in that category—but restaurants can still be capital-C creepy. All those empty chairs, the walk-ins just waiting to trap you inside. Since it's Halloween, we're pouring one out for the ghostly spirits who haunt the front and back of house.
Rebecca Masson, Fluff Bake Bar
"We think we have a ghost here. We call her Ghost Girl Number 12 because she sets off the motion sensor alarm, which is number 12. We have also heard her cough. It’s crazy. We hear people in the dining room when no one is there. But we try to be nice to her. "
Tyrone Welchinski, King + Bannatyne
"I'd first like to say I am not someone who believes in ghosts or the paranormal, but this made me question: I was 16. One of my first kitchen jobs was prepping banquet food at an old turn of the century schoolhouse on a dirt road that had been converted for weddings. Events would go late into the night and after tear down and prep for the following day we'd have some early mornings.
During one of these late night tear-downs, the kitchen got on the subject of strange events they'd all experienced over their years at the restaurant. I'd had a few myself. A pot of water placed on the burner then finding it on the floor when my back was turned (not spilling a drop or making a sound). The dumbwaiter going up, then returning with dishes or a flower arrangement when I was the only one in the restaurant. Most of these things would happen after a long day and usually when someone was alone.
The stories escalated until the chef (who was absolutely convinced there was a ghost) dared me and another cook to wander up to the loft (two flights up) with the lights out and wait for something to happen. We met his dare and walked up the pitch-black staircase to the loft, tracing the wall with our hands. We made it to the entrance of the 12x12 room. Nothing. Immediate relief. We turned around and I remember yelling down to our chef, "SEE, NO GHOS—" then a loud BANG as if something had been hurled against the wall. We fell over each other trying to scramble down the stairs until we made it to the basement.
Our hearts were racing. Once we had a chance to catch our breath, we decided to turn all the lights on and return to the loft to see what the hell just happened. Our chef, who of course thinks we are fucking with him, came with us this time. When we get to the loft, we see that one of the tables we'd stacked earlier in the evening was thrown to the other side of the room. Then another BANG from the swinging saloon doors on the first floor, followed by the sound of running and children laughing.
We didn't lock up that night. We bolted to our cars and drove home."
Amy Racine, Wine Director, JF Restaurants
"I worked at a 1-star Michelin restaurant in San Francisco that definitely had a little ghost girl. I’ll start by saying that I never saw her, I felt her watching me.
I went in on New Years Day to do inventory by myself, and every three to four SKUs I looked over my shoulder because it felt like someone was there. I dipped out early because it really creeped me out. Fast forward a few months, and our maître d' tells me he saw a little ghost girl the previous night. He was locking the side door; as he turned around to shut it behind him, he saw a little girl in a blue dress and white bonnet at the bottom of the landing. He freaked out, locked the door, and left. This maître d’ was prone to an after-dinner glass of whiskey or two, so I took the story with a grain of salt, but another month or so later our dishwasher Nohum, comes onto the scene. (Shout-out to the best dishwasher ever!)
After a few months, he heard the someone telling this story and turned around, super wide-eyed. He said “Oh sí, the little ghost girl with the blue dress!” We all lost our shit. He saw her closing late nights as well. That place is haunted as fuck."
Samuel Monsour, Preux & Proper
"You're not supposed to be in a restaurant alone. Especially in the middle of the night. It's just so big, there's so much that can happen. Ours is a really old building from the turn of the century, and there's talk of it being haunted among the staff. I just thought people were making shit up about the restaurant. One of our hostess's moms can see ghosts and she came in for dinner and saw one on the stairs.
I live two blocks away from the restaurant, and over time I figured there was a kind of placebo effect working on me because every time the alarm would go off and I would get called to go walk through, it got creepier and creepier. One night, I went in at 3 am to walk through, and I thought, Sweet, I have a bunch of prep to do for this event we're doing in New Orleans, I'll just do it now and no one will be in my way. I poured myself a whiskey and a beer and put some rap on. It's a big kitchen, with long hallways, and I had to use the vacuum sealer, which was on a back table, so I go back there, get creeped out, so I turn it on really quickly and walk away.
I get back to the kitchen, and my music goes out. I figure it's the wifi, so I fix it, and go back to the vacuum sealer: it's off. I turn it back on, go back to the kitchen: my music turns off again. So I'm like, "Listen, if you guys don't want to hear music, I won't play it," just talking to the air. "I just gotta bang out some prep." So now I've acknowledged their presence, and I think that's going to be good enough, but this dance just continued. My shit was moving around. At first I thought I was tired, but it became clear it was happening on purpose. The bag exploded in the vacuum sealer in the most horrifying way possible.
By then, I tell the ghosts, "Alright! I'm getting the fuck out of here, just let me clean this up." So I did, but I was scared shitless. To be honest, I feel like I acted a little too tough towards the ghosts for a while, so they took it as an opportunity to put me in my place and say, "We are here, and we don't fuck with you when you're open, but from the hours of 2-8 when no one's here, that's our time." It sounds ridiculous, but I was terrified. I don't know how to express that enough. I didn't even finish my beer!"
For some, real life is spookier than the Great Beyond:
Andrew Gerson, Brooklyn Brewery
"My culinary experiences have been otherworldly, yet sadly not ghoulish. Although, I did cut my head really badly on my first day of work in a restaurant in Italy and worked the line with my head wrapped like a mummy."
Mark Hellyar, Momotaro
"Sorry to disappoint, but the only haunted house I know of is the White House and that’s scarier than anything and everything."
Karen Leibowitz, The Perennial
"I was definitely spooked by the old Bar Tartine basement, but never saw a ghost or felt it was haunted with anything more than the previous tenants' hopes and dreams."