August 21, 2019

Dining at A Haunted Restaurant

A few years ago we were in Provincetown for the annual Tennessee Williams Festival. We met a group of friends for brunch at Local 186 and, since it was a sunny September day, decided to eat outside. Little did we know what that brunch would bring...

One of my friends ordered a Belgian waffle, and when it arrived it came topped with a mountain of whipped cream and an enormous dusting of powdered sugar. It looked very tasty, but just as we were about to eat a gusty breeze blew in from the harbor. The powdered sugar blew off the waffle and all over the person who ordered it. To make matters worse he was wearing a black shirt.

He wiped off the sugar, ordered another Bloody Mary, and moved on. We all assumed the mishap was just caused by a random seaside breeze - but we may have been wrong. Local 186 is supposed to be haunted. Perhaps a ghost had caused the sugar incident?

Many restaurants, hotels and guest houses are allegedly haunted these days. I think in the more superstitious past people would be afraid to patronize a haunted establishment but now having a resident ghost is considered an extra attraction for a business. An establishment needs good food, attentive service, and preferably an undead entity. Owners publicize their ghosts in an attempt to entice customers. Modern capitalism can absorb everything, even the restless dead.

The ghost who supposedly haunts Local 186 was a businesswoman herself so she may not mind. Her name is Esther Chamberlain, and for many years she ran the restaurant and the guest house above it when it was called Esther's Inn. She was a formidable and driven entrepreneur, and even after death she is said to be interested in how the business is run. 

For example, several staff have said the ghost has rearranged silverware when they weren't looking. Here's a quote about Esther's ghost from Sam Baltrusis's book Paranormal Provincetown:
Jeffrey Doucette, a veteran ghost tour guide, said he's heard stories of table settings being rearranged and objects moving at Local 186 if guests or employees don't adhere to basic rules of etiquette. "I ran into one woman while I was giving the tour and she confirmed that the restaurant and inn's namesake was a bit of a stickler... The spirit seems to be interested in table manners..."
Esther's ghost is apparently polite and there aren't any particularly horrific stories about her. She doesn't sound sinister, just stern. 

We had dinner at Local 186 just a couple weeks ago. Our meal passed without incident (and was quite tasty) but I noticed the Ouija board that had been in the bar on past visits was gone. Paranormal investigator Joni Mayhan told Baltrusis that sometimes people playing with Ouija boards can accidentally summon sinister entities. I think that would be doubly the case for drunk folks at a bar. Maybe the ghost haunting Local 186 isn't really Esther at all? 

Perhaps the owner removed the Ouija board for psychic safety but there may be another reason. Baltrusis notes in Paranormal Provincetown that the website Building Provincetown claimed Local 186 was reputedly haunted. That has been taken down since Baltrusis's book was published in 2016 and there's no mention of it. I wonder if the new owner is downplaying the ghost angle? If so maybe that's why they removed the Ouija board as well. 

It's their business and they can market it however they please. But if Esther's ghost really does haunt Local 186 I am sure she will stick around to make sure patrons use the right fork and place their napkins in their laps. 

1 comment:

Rich Clabaugh said...

Thanks for the post Peter! I have to try one of our local haunted food establishments, we're lucky to have so many!