There is something about autumn that is both endearing and eerie, a certain feeling that sets in once the leaves begin to change. Similar to how the holiday spirit tends to infuse everyone and light up faces around December; autumn and the promise of Halloween bring an air of mystery that not all is as it seems. Greenmarkets start displaying an array of gourds, squash and plump pumpkins while rubber flip flops and shorts are replaced by chunky knit sweaters and leather riding boots. The word ‘cozy’ is re-entered into our vocabulary as we all savor pumpkin spice lattes, reinstate our love for apples and watch ‘spooky’ movies on Netflix while snuggled under the covers.
This autumn rather than feign fear at a kitschy haunted house, why not explore the unexplained and unimaginable at a genuinely haunted locale. Whether dining alongside the spirit of former vice president Aaron Burr or feeling the touch of an ‘unknown presence,’ the following bars and eateries across the United States are said to serve up treats with a side of tricks.
One if by Land, Two if by Sea
One if by Land, Two if by Sea is perhaps one of the most famously haunted restaurants in New York City. The restaurant was once the carriage house of the 3rd U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr and his daughter, Theodosia. Legend states that Theodosia disappeared one stormy night while en route by ship to visit her father. With the love of her father and being a devoted daughter, theories swirled around her unexplained disappearance with speculations of murder. Legend has it that people claimed her death “t’was to punish her but her father more.” Today the ill-fated father-daughter pair are said to haunt this restaurant in tandem.
White Horse Tavern
On a cold November in 1953, poet Dylan Thomas sat at the White Horse Tavern in Manhattan and downed 18 shots of whiskey before exiting into the brisk winter cold. He died shortly thereafter. In life Thomas was said to frequent a table at the White Horse Tavern where he would fuel his poetry writing with booze, turning the table ever so slightly as he worked to reach his piles of papers stacked around the table. In death, the table is said to turn on its own—as though the writer’s spirit is still fueling his prose with whiskey.
With voodoo, magic and a rich history it’s no surprise that New Orleans plays hosts to tourists and local spirits alike. Arnaud’s was established in 1918 and still stands proudly in the French Quarter today. Besides serving up classic Creole cuisine and live jazz, Arnaud’s is reportedly haunted by Count Arnaud whose spirit is said to frequent the main dining room, dressed in a tuxedo.
Muriel’s Jackson Square
On any given night, crowded or not, when you wander into Muriel’s Jackson Square you will always spot one table with a glass of wine and bread being tended by…no one. The table is said to be reserved for the ghost of Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, the owner of the property where Muriel’s Jackson Square now stands.
The story goes that Jourdan restored the property to its former grandeur (which had fallen victim to the 1788 Great New Orleans fire) and built his dream home for himself and his family. In 1814, Jourdan’s gambling addiction won the better of him when he wagered his home on a poker game and lost. Distraught, Jourdan committed suicide on the second floor of his home before he was due to vacate the premises and make good on his wager. Today Muriel’s Jackson Square pays homage to the local spirits that haunt the French Quarters and reserves a table for Jourdan who never wanted to leave.
The charming Bucktown Pub is said to be haunted by the former bar owner who had committed suicide in 1986. Proving that old habits die hard, the spirit of Bucktown’s past owner reportedly tries to redeem his job title from the grave by rearranging napkins and flipping the juke box on and off, as though he is still running the place.
Poogan’s Porch is an independent establishment on Charleston’s Queen Street that whips up Lowcountry cuisine in a beautifully restored Victorian home. It’s been said that at night, after the restaurant is closed, a woman shrouded in black can be seen frantically searching the front dining room. The sighting of the woman roaming the restaurant after close has been reported to the local police so often they they’ve begun disregarding new reports.
The woman is said to be the ghost of spinster, Zoe St. Armand, who was driven crazy after the death of her sister, Elizabeth. Zoe is said to have fallen to her death down the stairs while helplessly searching the house for her sibling. Today the spirit of Zoe and the pet terrier, Poogan (the restaurant’s namesake), are said to haunt the restaurant, with reports that Poogan can still be felt running beneath the tables in the dining room.
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