At Sea Glass Restaurant in Cape Elizabeth, Deb Wojcicki tried the Mediterranean Scramble and learned about the bride-to-be shipwrecked with her wedding dress, now seen walking the beach.
At The Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont, it was eggs Benedict and tap-dances-on-the-roof ghost, Boots Berry.
At Haymarket Cafe in Northampton, Massachusetts, a delicious plate of black beans and rice and Jason, the sometimes-sticky-fingered bathroom sprite.
Wojcicki started the website Haunted Eateries of New England four years ago with a simple inspiration.
“I’m a super foodie and I love a good ghost story,” she said in a phone interview from her home in western Massachusetts.
“My sister-in-law and I had stayed at a few haunted inns, some of them had restaurants, some of them didn’t. We just thought, ‘Hey, you know what would be really cool, if we ate our way around New England looking for ghosts.'”
So they have.
She has hit three Maine restaurants and pubs, and has more on her to-eat list. Each stop gets a review, pictures and a recap of the best ghost stories, most often relayed by staff. She has been on hiatus compiling nearly 20 reviews of Massachusetts spots that may become a book or may end up on the website around Halloween.
A geologist and environmental consultant, Wojcicki scours the web, asks ghost hunting groups and relies on word of mouth in looking for places to visit.
“Some people own their ghosts — they’re comfortable with them, they’re happy talking about them,” she said. “And others are like, ‘Oh, no, this place is not haunted,’ but you start snooping around talking to the bartender and you realize, ‘It might be, there might be a good story here.'”
Two criteria to make the website: First, the restaurant has to be open to the general public.
“It can’t be a B&B, where you have to stay there to eat there,” Wojcicki said. And, “if you have a ghost that just hangs out in a room upstairs, that doesn’t count either. It has to be something near the restaurant, because otherwise you’re not eating with the ghosts.”
She has yet to have a personal experience, but in chatting up staff — bartenders seem to be particularly good at dishing — has “heard some really, really awesome stories from people who really seem to believe that the place was haunted.”
At The Green Mountain Inn, she heard about Boots Berry, born to an inn chambermaid in 1840. He learned to tap dance in a New Orleans jail and died rescuing a young girl off the inn roof. In her review, Wojcicki wrote that people today report cold spots, being touched and sometimes, the sound of tap dancing on the roof.
“A lot of ghosts you hear the same things: They turn off and on the lights, they like to play with the faucets in the bathroom, but Boots is unique,” she said.
At Sonny’s Restaurant in Portland, she heard about a large-nosed older ghost, crashing dishes and unexplained noises, but could not get the bartender to talk, writing: “Apparently, he had witnessed some weird things, but never spoke of them while inside the building. … Perhaps he was afraid of being overheard.”
One of the favorite stories in her treks came from Sea Glass in Cape Elizabeth, where a young Maine bride-to-be and 15 others were shipwrecked and perished in 1807. She had been on her way back from dress shopping in Boston.
“There’s a little, itty-bitty cemetery right next to the inn that has her gravestone,” Wojcicki said. “It’s a heart-tugging story. It’s one that’s had a lot of people who have said they’ve seen her ghosts, or a ghost has been in their room moving stuff around. Stories like that that, you can get the feeling for the history of it and you can get the feeling for who this person really was. Those are my favorite, I love those.”
Two places she wants to check out in Maine: The Lucerne Inn in Dedham, where some claim a long-ago double-murder and suicide took place, and the Kennebunk Inn in Kennebunk.
The Kennebunk Inn “apparently (has) three ghosts that have broken glasses at the bar. Patrons eating outside have seen a ghost staring out the window at them, and it sounds like a great restaurant. The chef/owner was on ‘Chopped,’ on the Food Network. Right there, that’s got everything I need,” Wojcicki said.
“They mention it right on their website. These are people who own their ghosts.”
Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, intriguing and unexplained in Maine. Send photos and ideas to [email protected]
Deb Wojcicki started the website Haunted Eateries of New England four years ago as a self-described foodie who loves a good ghost story. (Submitted photo)