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These articles were excerpted from Tapestry, a weekly newsletter that examines the arts and entertainment world in Charlotte and North Carolina.

Ghosts could sell more beer and wings. But Charlotte hesitates.

James-Michael Hanchey, bartender, server, and teller of ghost stories at Boudreaux's Kitchen & Tavern in Charlotte.
Nicole Rojas
Queens University News Service
James-Michael Hanchey, bartender, server, and teller of ghost stories at Boudreaux's Kitchen & Tavern in Charlotte.

Ghost tours and haunted houses draw thousands of tourists a year to Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.

And Charlotte offers many haunted bars and restaurants, but experts in the paranormal say the city is lagging in its use of ghosts to sell beer and wings.

Public knowledge of haunted encounters is usually good for business, said Tina R. McSwain, who founded the Charlotte Area Paranormal Society in 1999.

“People want to have an experience,” she said. “They see all the shows, so they think it might be cool to have their own ghost sightings. So what better way than to go somewhere that reports to have activity?”

The stigma associated with the paranormal has waned in recent years, McSwain said, and people don’t say she’s crazy anymore.

But some businesses are hesitant to embrace their ghosts.

“There’s a well-known location in downtown Charlotte that has a ghost, but they don't want to publicize it. They don't want to talk about it,” McSwain said. “I don't really understand why. I would think the type of business they are, it would lead to increased revenue.”

Charlotte bars and restaurants famous for ghosts include Alexander Michael’s, Rí Rá Irish Pub and Caswell Station. But three places are attracting new attention for spookiness: Boudreaux’s in NoDa, Davidson Ice House and Devil’s Logic Brewing in Cherry, on the edge of Elizabeth.

Boos at Boudreaux’s

Rumors of ghosts swirl around Boudreaux’s, a Cajun restaurant with a partner bar, Sanctuary. The bar’s dark interior and graffitied walls add to the mystery.

James-Michael Hanchey, a bartender and server, said several employees have heard doors slamming, felt frightened in the building late at night, and felt a looming presence in the bathroom.

“When you’re here at 3:30 in the morning and all the lights are out, you feel like you want to get rushed through an area because you feel like somebody’s following you,” he said.

Some employees feel the presence of a woman’s spirit, Hanchey said.

He’s never heard customers saying anything about ghosts, and it’s mostly story-sharing among the staff. But he sees how the novelty of the paranormal could draw people in.

A dark, ominous view of the billiards room at Boudreaux's Kitchen & Tavern in Charlotte.
Nicole Rojas
Queens University News Service
A dark, ominous view of the billiards room at Boudreaux's Kitchen & Tavern in Charlotte.

Tina R. McSwain, Charlotte’s resident ghostbuster

McSwain has investigated several restaurants with her team, often to determine if suspicious occurrences and noises are actually ghostly activity — or just old air conditioners and pipes.

Restaurants, she said, can attract spirits to linger because employees may work there for decades, and spirits choose to stay somewhere they feel comfortable.

“Someone that worked there, someone that owned the business, and they enjoyed what they did in life, they continue to hang around,” McSwain said. “It doesn't have to be tragic. It could be happy. It might just be that’s where they felt best and enjoyed being there, so they just continue that process into death.”

Chills at Davidson Ice House: The gray man

Given the long history of Davidson Ice House, a family-owned restaurant 30 minutes north of Charlotte, chef and owner Jennifer Brulé said she’s not surprised by friendly ghostly visitors.

“It's 100 years old,” Brulé said. “I feel like the caretaker of it. I feel very lucky and honored to be part of it. It's beautiful. And it’s haunted.”

The chef has worked to maintain the original structure and to embrace its stories and ghosts. Staff members claim to have seen a figure they call “the gray man,” especially while working alone or at night.

Brulé said she believes the gray man could be one of the original owners.

“No one's worried about it, it’s like a friendly ghost. And he's more mischievous than anything else,” she said. “Our hand dryers have motion sensors, and he'll turn the hand dryers on.”

Brulé has heard there’s a lot of paranormal activity in Lake Norman and Davidson. She said her own house has a ghost.

The flames of Devil’s Logic Brewing

Staff at Devil’s Logic Brewing say they hear closing doors and clinking glasses long after the final customer leaves.

Owner Brian Wallace researched the history of the building, constructed in 1924, and discovered that a house previously existed on the property. Plumbers uncovered an old foundation, soot, and burnt wood fragments, and staff noticed charred spots on the building. Wallace thinks a house probably burned down where Devil’s Logic now stands.

He’s heard the same noises as his employees.

But Wallace thinks it’s more likely hallucinations than ghosts.

“I’ve also worked late nights — and sometimes 40-plus hours without sleep — in other industries and have experienced similar things. Even slight visual hallucinations like fast-moving shadows in my periphery,” he said. “Even though I don't think our property is haunted, I'd still love to meet a ghost in our taproom and serve it a pint.”

The exterior of Boudreaux's Kitchen & Tavern in Charlotte.
Nicole Rojas
Queens University News Service
The exterior of Boudreaux's Kitchen & Tavern in Charlotte.

Half of Americans believe in ghosts

Although stories about ghosts and spirits have circulated for centuries, there has been an explosion in American interest in the supernatural, according to Sean McCloud, a religion and American studies professor at UNC Charlotte.

“Anywhere between 30% to 60% of all Americans say that they believe in some sort of ghosts,” he said.

Paranormal reality TV shows and YouTube channels have sparked the rising interest in haunted locations, he said, and paranormal tourism has become an alternative to visiting traditional museums and historical sites.

People in the Southeast are the least likely to say they believe in ghosts, McCloud said, but the region is considered the most haunted in America. The Civil War, slavery and spiritualist beliefs created an area rife with haunted sites. He attributes hesitancy to believe in ghosts to the large numbers of evangelicals living in the Southeast.

“This isn’t an out-of-left-field belief. About half of all Americans, depending on the time of year, have some sort of belief in ghosts and supernatural beings,” McCloud said. “It’s pretty common.”

Caroline Willingham of Durham and Nicole Rojas of Coral Springs, Florida, are students in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, which provides the news service in support of local community news.

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