by Patricia Mack
I’ve eaten at restaurants where goose was on the menu, but goose bumps? They’re on the bill of fare at some interesting restaurants and inns that embrace “the dearly departed” who never have — departed, that is. Do I believe these stories of spirits who enjoy fine dining? Or specters in hotel hallways? The hard-nosed reporter in me says, “Of course not.” But the Celt in me says, “There is mystery and magic in restaurants and hotels, and always has been.”
So, maybe the case of a ghost who dines each night at a reserved table isn’t strange. In New Orleans, which has more than its share of spirits — literally and figuratively — there is Muriel’s Jackson Square, a lovely French Quarter restaurant where I was shown the table reserved for Monsieur Jourdan, more properly M. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, the restaurant’s resident ghost. And not the only one, I’m told.
“One is a slightly mischievous ghost in our Courtyard Bar,” said Denise Gratia, the restaurant’s marketing director. On at least three occasions since Muriel’s opened in 2001, glasses have flown from behind the bar traveling 12 feet through the air until shattering against a brick wall. The cause, some theorize, is the ghost of a former slave, who needs to express eternal angst at Jourdan’s 1814 suicide after he lost his beloved home — now Muriel’s Jackson Square — in a card game. He shot himself in what was once the slave quarters, and is now Muriel’s Séance Lounge. That’s right, Muriel’s Séance Lounge, where you can have a drink as you wait for your table.
“This is also the place where we think Jourdan spends the majority of his time,” said general manager Anthony Palomo. Palomo says no one’s ever seen the apparition per se, but more than a few have witnessed a glimmer of sparkly light wandering around the lounge. Late at night, when Palomo is alone closing up, he’s heard footsteps on the second floor. “I try not to think about it too much,” Palomo said.
“The restaurant’s official statement on the matter is this: “We believe M. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan never left his true love and home in New Orleans, he continues to reside here to this day.” For more New Orleans haunted happenings, visit www.neworleanscvb.com.
Then there are the ghosts at The Grenville in Bay Head, NJ, a grand Victorian inn at the Jersey Shore. The building, which houses a charming restaurant and guest rooms, is 120-years-old, and is as beautiful as ever. However, when you dine there, you may find new meaning to the phrase, “My waiter seems to have disappeared.”
There’ve been recurring stories of encounters with “people” who seem like people, talk and walk like people, but have the unsettling habit of vanishing. And then there are the laughing children, who are heard but not seen, and the noise of furniture being moved in rooms that are not occupied.
“Personally, I’ve never had an encounter,” says owner Renee Typaldos. “However, I’ve heard about these things from staff and guests. It is a very old building and it has always been an inn, so there are countless people who have been guests over the course of more than a century and no doubt, countless things, maybe supernatural things, have happened here.”
Does having resident ghosts disturb her? Not in the least. “They’ve never bothered anyone,” she said. For more on the ghostly lore of the elegant Victorian towns and seafaring history of the Jersey Shore, visit www.jerseyshoreghosttours.com.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our ghostly tales, featuring haunted hotels.
You can click on each photo to enlarge.