Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

Habits Café – Cincinnati, Ohio

It’s October and all this month we've been exploring haunted drinking establishments - restaurants, taverns, wineries, any place that serves spirits … and has “spirits.”  

Let’s hit the road one more time and discover who or what it is that makes these places so dark and brooding…

Habits Café has been a part of the Oakley community for 35 years. Founded in 1980, this neighborhood bar and grill, located on the eastern side of Cincinnati, offers a quaint atmosphere in which to enjoy outstanding food and after-work drinks. But not all is what it seems at this eclectic eatery.

Long before it was Habits Café, this building was home to a neighborhood bar. In one version of the story, the tavern owner was a notorious person who had spent time in jail. Back out on the street, he quickly returned to his criminal ways of dealing in hot merchandise. A bent cop discovered his secret and the two went into operation together. The cop would keep attention diverted from the bar and the owner would cut him in for a part of the take.

The ruse seemed to be working well until someone became too greedy. One night, the owner lured the cop into the basement of the building and shot him to death. 

It was rumored that the bar owner was gunned down not long afterwards in the alley by the café. No one knew the exact details of the shooting and without some tips; the police had nothing to go on ...

In another version of the story - one night, a patron had too much to drink and became belligerent when the management stopped service. The police were called, but the man refused to leave. When the officer arrived, the intoxicated patron was in the basement where he grabbed a shotgun and struck the policeman in the head. The officer died at the scene. The customer was later arrested.
While it is known that a policeman was killed in the basement of the building, the exact details have become sketchy over time. Whisperings, cold spots and the feeling of being watched are prevalent downstairs, though.

Today, customers report that phone and camera batteries drain quickly. Staff members have witnessed the lights being unexplainedly turned on and off, and have seen items thrown through the air by no visible presence.

If you’re in the Queen City for Halloween this year, dinner at Habits Café may be just the thing for a spooktacular evening out.

~ Joy

3036 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH
(513) 631-8367
Hours: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

The Winery at La Grange – Haymarket, Virginia

It’s October and all this month we’ll be exploring haunted drinking establishments - restaurants, taverns, wineries, any place that serves spirits … and has “spirits.” 

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

Housed in an 18th Century restored manor house, The Winery at La Grange offers elegant Virginia wines crafted in the European style. The winery opened in 2006 and has garnered several awards for its Virginia wines.

The Winery at La Grange offers 12 to 15 wines crafted from grapes grown in the estate’s eight-acre vineyard. Red wines include Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo and Benoni’s Red. The list of whites contain a Chardonnay, Cuvee Blanc, Vidal and Viognier.

 One wine, General’s Battlefield Red, is aged in oak barrels that have been made from trees cut from the Manassas Battlefield.

But besides wine, history (and hauntings) are also prevalent in this three-story hilltop mansion. The manor was built in 1790 and maintains more than a few ghosts. Staff and customers have witnessed all of the bottles on the mantle pop their corks at the same time.

Customers discuss their strange encounters with others while sipping wine at the bar – especially during the month of October. One of the regular sightings is that of former owner, Benoni E. Harrison. Harrison purchased the manor and estate in 1827 and resided here until his death in 1869. He can still be seen today, wandering the property, checking to make sure all is in order.

In honor of Mr. Harrison, the stone walled cellar, where guests can enjoy a glass of wine in an intimate setting, has been named Benoni’s Lounge.

Another inhabitant of the house is a young girl who is seen only in an upstairs bedroom.

During renovations in 2006, visitors heard piano music drifting on the evening breeze. When they went to investigate, they discovered that there was no one in the house, and no piano any where to be found. Although Benoni Harrison’s will shows that he left his "piano in the parlor" to his nephew in 1869.

Plan a trip to the Winery at La Grange and sample some wine on the patio, or in Benoni’s Lounge. Maybe you’ll be soothed by distant piano music as you catch a glimpse of Benoni making his rounds on his beloved estate.

~ Joy

4970 Antioch Road
Haymarket, VA
(703) 753-9360

Monday – Thursday Noon -6 p.m.
Friday – Saturday Noon – 8 p.m.
Sunday Noon – 7 p.m.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

The Tonic Room – Chicago, Illinois

It’s October and all this month we’ll be exploring haunted drinking establishments - restaurants, taverns, wineries; any place that serves spirits … and has “spirits.” 

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

First stop this year is considered one of the Top 10 Haunted Bars in Illinois. (It comes in at #4.) The Tonic Room in Lincoln Park, Illinois was built in 1894 and has had a long and sordid history.

The building was used as a brothel for years. Then, in the 1920s, the Lincoln Park neighborhood became rife with gangs and crime. The building became a speakeasy during Prohibition and was a favorite hang out for member of the Irish North Side Gang; the same gang that had six of its members gunned down in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929. Nearby, stands the Biograph Theatre where gangster John Dillinger was gunned down by the FBI in 1934. Today there remains a tunnel, now closed off, that runs under North Halsted Street that gang members used as a quick escape route through the city in the 1920s and 30s.

When the gangsters left the building in the 1930s, the Chicago chapter of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a magical society dedicated to spiritual, psychic and occult practices, took up residence there. The Windy City has been home to the group for almost a century and the Tonic Room may still reverberate from some of the group’s rumored events including a ritual sacrifice that was said to have taken place in the basement during that time.

Frederic De'Arechanga
In the 1969 and the early ‘70s, the building was home to the occult shop, El-Sabarum, operated by Frederic De’Arechanga who claimed he was a mystic. While he sold herbs and candles upstairs, De’ Arechanga used the basement as a pagan temple for his newly founded Sabaean religious order, Temple of the Moon. The Sabean religion he created was based on his interpretation of the practices of Egyptian Mythology, Babylonian, and Sumarian myth along with ancient African theologies. Some said the Sabaean also practiced sacrifices during their rituals. De’Arechanga changed his name to Odun and vacated the building in 1974.  

Since the late 1990s, there have been reports of strange apparitions flitting through the building's basement, and ghostly fogs in the upstairs bar area. Some say this may link back to the rituals enacted there. During renovations on the building, a sacrificial dagger was discovered hidden in the basement walls along with the remains of a pentagram found painted on the floor.

Workers also uncovered Egyptian iconography painted on the basement ceiling. Whispering and chanting can still be heard at odd hours in the basement, and one former worker reported being pinned down on the basement floor by “something” he couldn’t see.

The Tonic Room
Today, the Tonic Room is a great venue for live music in the city, and if you’re interested in seeing if the place still gives off a mysterious vibe, check out the web page for a current listing of bands and events. Regardless of the spook factor, you’re sure to have an out-of-this-world evening listening to live music in the Windy City.

~ Joy

2447 N. Halsted Avenue
Chicago, IL
(773) 248-8400