Some places just inspire chills. Take the Twin Peaks-themed bar in Vancouver, British Columbia, or one of the oldest bars in Salem, Massachusetts, a town we still associate with witchy activity. But it’s one thing to incorporate hauntedness as a theme or backdrop, and it’s quite another — and decidedly scarier — to experience a truly haunted establishment.
It seems that if you operate an older bar, the chances for paranormal activity increase several-fold. There are legendary chilling tales that correspond with haunts like the Basement Tavern in Santa Monica, Landmark Tavern in New York (established in 1868), and Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West, set in an old morgue.
The Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City, Oregon has terrified its share of guests and staffers over its 130 years of existence. The Victorian-style structure looks like it was engineered for a horror film set, clocktower and all. It shut down from 1968-1997, ample time for the area ghosts to take over and make their presence felt.
Owner Barbara Sidway has heard and in some cases experienced her share of scary incidents. Before the Geiser reopened, Sidway was greeted by an old lady. She claimed to be the former bartender of the place and asked a rather sobering question: “Have you heard them yet?”
The spirits that occupy the place like a good drink and prefer the hotel bar. There, they’re known to do what bar patrons do: have a good time. She says when the bar closed at night, one could hear ghosts in the dining room next door. Sounds of laughing and tinkling ice in glasses wafted through the door. They’d even have a little fun with the barkeeps.
“The ghosts would prank them and pull a tap when no one was around,” Sidway says, adding that they preferred Budweiser. “Maybe we’re safe because we only have local craft brews on tap now!”
About a century ago, the manager’s mother lived in the hotel. The late “Granny Anabelle,” as she went by, had a favorite seat at the bar and to this day, patrons have talked about feeling a pinch if seated in her favorite spot. She continues to toy with guests, fiddling with their toiletries and jewelry especially.
In New Orleans, the stage is set as well. The gas lamps and cobblestone streets of the French Quarter attract tourists and more peculiar guests alike. This is the land of voodoo, mysticism, and more.
Arnaud’s is in the belly of the beast, serving bayou customers since 1918. A ghostly figure thought to be Germaine Cazenave Wells, daughter of founder Arnaud himself, roams the building. “It has been spotted by both guests and employees in bathrooms, private dining rooms, and more,” says Carrie Pavlick, who represents the old New Orleans restaurant and bar. But it gets scarier.
“Most recently, a group of diners in one of the restaurant’s upstairs private dining rooms said they saw the floating torso of a man appear in one of their photos,” she adds. “It’s believed to have been ‘Count’ Arnaud himself.” She adds that an after-hours staffer witnessed a half-full highball glass atop the Richelieu Bar, eerie given the place’s strict clean-up policy. The glass was mysteriously empty just moments later, no soul in sight.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” she says. “All of Arnaud’s guests have been reported to be pretty nice.”
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