Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series - Jan’s Village Pizza – Westfield, Indiana


Jan’s Village Pizza – Westfield, Indiana

It’s October and all during this month we’ll explore haunted drinking establishments - restaurants, taverns, wineries, anyplace that serves spirits, and has “spirits.” 

So let’s hit the road and discover who or what it is that makes these places so dark and brooding…




Our first stop is Westfield, a small town in Indiana, about 20 minutes from Indianapolis. This small village played a big role in helping slaves escape via the Underground Railroad. Today, located at the corner of U.S. 32 and South Union Streets, you will find Jan’s Village Pizza. This quaint restaurant is the only pizza place in town, but since it just won “Best Pizza in the Midwest” in August, I don’t think you will be disappointed.


Jan's Village Pizza
Jan Miller, with her husband Steve, opened this restaurant about 13 years ago. It is the second pizza restaurant they own, the first is in Sheridan, Indiana.

The Adjoined Buildings
The building that the restaurant is housed in is old and cobbled together. What is now Erika's Place adjoins the Party Room of Jan’s which connects to the main restaurant on down the block.



Funderburgh's Grocery
Before this was Jan’s Village Pizza it was Pickett’s Cafeteria, owned by Bernie Pickett. Other businesses have also been housed here, including Funderburgh’s Grocery Store.





Historic Indiana Ghost Walks & Tours
Michael Kobrowski
The founders of the Historic Indiana Ghost Walks and Tours http://www.unseenpress.com, Michael and Nicole Kobrowski have investigated the buildings and found some interesting areas. According to Michael, the building on the corner is very haunted. At one time it was used only for storage because of the strange and uncomfortable feelings people would experience upstairs.

Haunted Upstairs
Kobrowski explained that a few years ago when a local television photographer was upstairs shooting a segment for a haunted feature, she became immobilized. Later when she was pulling cables down the stairs, she felt something press her against the wall of the stairway, almost causing her to slip and fall. The woman refused to return upstairs.


Bank
Underground Railroad 
Kobrowski said that the basement it also creepy. The exact age of the basement is unknown but the rafters in it predate the Civil War. There is a doorway on the north side of the basement that leads to a tunnel connecting with another basement doorway across the street. This doorway comes out into what was once the local bank. Today, that basement doorway is also closed over.  With Westfield's history as a stop on the Indiana Underground Railroad, it's speculated that this could be one of the many Underground Railroad tunnels in town.



Jan's Dining Room
But who is haunting Jan’s Village Pizza? Some believe that it is the former owner of Pickett’s Cafeteria, Bernie Pickett. It seems that Pickett was always a bit of a rebel. During some remodeling, a half bottle of liquor was found hidden in a small space in the kitchen. Hamilton County was a dry county until the 1960’s and the bottle was attributed to belonging to Bernie; some say he didn't like his hooch messed with.




Doing Dishes
Preparing a Meal
During the time the Millers have owned the buildings, the kitchen staff have continued to report strange occurrences. Dishes stack themselves and move around the kitchen. Employees working in the kitchen hear the voices of other workers in another kitchen that was once part of Pickett’s Cafeteria but is no longer used.


In the Kitchen
A woman working in the kitchen commented one day that she did not believe Bernie Pickett was haunting the building. No sooner had she uttered the words than a pitcher tilted off the shelf across from her and flew at her head. She ducked and it missed her.


Cleaning Up
In the restaurant’s party room female servers sometime have to deal with unwanted ghostly advances when they clean up for the night. The young female wait staff report that someone whispers in their ear, but the girls can’t understand what is being said. Some have also reported someone lightly blowing or touching them on the neck.


Preparing for the Day
Even the owner has seen odd things. Early one rainy morning she arrived to find the cook already there preparing for the day. She stepped outside to retrieve something from her car and noticed a man standing at the corner of the building. When she turned around to see who he was, there was no one near the building – he had simply disappeared.


Muddy Paw Prints
When she went back inside there were muddy footprints tracked across the kitchen floor. Only she and the cook were there and neither had left the man-sized prints. She reported seeing the muddy footprints two more times, but on the third time not only were a man's muddy prints crossing the kitchen and walking through the restaurant, there were also the muddy paw prints of a dog walking beside him…




Another Winner
Dine with Wine
Jan's Village Pizza offers 20 kinds of pizza, all are freshly made, and over half a dozen have won awards! And now you can enjoy a glass of wine or cold beer with your meal. (Jan's received a liquor license last month.) The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday. Visit http://www.jansvillagepizzas.com for hours and specials, or check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JansVillagePizza


Jan's Village Pizza
If you are looking for the "Best Pizza in the Midwest", served
 with a side of supernatural, plan a visit to Jan’s. With their great food, attentive staff, and historical vibe, maybe that’s why Bernie Pickett is still hanging around…

~ Joy