Life After Paranormals: Season 3, Episode 4
Paranormals at Gary Monteleone's restaurant left behind more than a healthy tip in "Dining With the Dead."
What were your first thoughts about the Virgin Mary figure and the documents you found when you found them?
You know, I wasn't real sure at first of exactly, you know, like the Virgin Mary being stuck in the wall of the house. And as far as the documents and stuff, you know I had no idea what Spiritualism was or anything. I thought they looked real cool, but I really didn't know that much about it. It's just when we uncovered it, it just kind of had a weird feeling to it.
Did you ever try to come up with rational explanations for these paranormal instances, or was it obviously unexplainable from the beginning?
No, it was very unexplainable. I'd never been around anything like that before. I had heard about it, but to actually have it happen in front of you, it was quite a strange experience.
Did any patrons have any odd experiences or were only employees attacked? Do you know any patrons' stories?
Oh no, quite a few of our customers have. A large amount.
We had this one gentleman; he used to come in at least two or three times a week, and the one evening they were sitting in the Mob Room – a little like casino type room that we have here in the restaurant – and his mother, a neighbor, and the gentleman that always used to come in and have dinner here. And, his mother had put her purse on the top of the table, and they were talking, and I went to get their drinks, and when I had come back the gentleman's mother was laughing, and she says, "Is this place haunted?" And I said, "Yeah. Why?" and she said, "Well, something lifted the strap of my purse straight up in the air and brought it back down to the table." And I said, "Yeah, you know, there's like prankster kind of things. That's what they do." She thought it was really cool, but he didn't, and he tried coming in one more time after that, and then we lost that customer for good. He just said, "I appreciate it, and I really love the restaurant and the food but I just can't." It just made him real uncomfortable and we understood. But then we have a lot of people that really like it, so it's kind of a combination.
These experiences spanned about 11 years. Did the frequency increase over the years?
We had some bad ones [spirits] come in. You know, I don't quite understand how that happens, but I guess it – you know, the bad things were going on mainly in the kitchen. Not so much in the dining room area because like I said before, the ones that are in the dining room area and back in the bar, it's more a prankster-type, kidding-kind of stuff. But the bad problems that we were having, most of those took place in the kitchen.
So it was kind of off and on when the bad things were happening?
Right. It just seemed like it wasn't the spirits that are here. It seemed a lot different.
Could you describe what was common when the activity was at its peak?
We had the pan of hot water come off of the stove onto the floor when one of the employees was standing real close by. We had a pan full of lasagna kind of flying through the kitchen and landing on the floor. We had measuring cups and stuff coming up out of the dishwasher in mid air and thrown across the room. We had a container of sauce poured on the floor. You could tell it didn't fall off the table. You could tell like someone had poured it on the floor. And then we had these one pound containers of a chicken base, and that's how we could kind of tell something was starting in the kitchen, because whatever it was would toss it down the hallway and it would come out with such a force it would swing the kitchen door open and land half way in the middle of the dining room. So it was very strong, you know. And it wasn't a very good experience for us, and our employees some days were trying to cope with it during lunch and our kitchen staff would run out in the dining room in the middle of lunch when we're full of people, and you know we still had to get the orders out, and I gave them a few minutes to collect themselves but we had to get back in there. But it wasn't a great experience for us, that's for sure.
You mentioned in the episode that you were attacked by an arm as you were closing up the restaurant one night. Could you elaborate more on what you saw or how it tried to attack you?
At that time we had recently purchased the building next door to the restaurant, which is now our bar and party room area. But anyway, we had to take up the floor to put a floor drain in for the soda fountain, and I went ahead and we cut up the floor. That's when we found those items underneath the grounds, underneath the floor, with the certificate of the Spiritualist and some pictures and also a plaque I guess was outside the of building in the twenties because its dated 1923. Anyway, I didn't want anything to happen to them. I didn't know if they had any historic information or whatever, and like I said, I wasn't familiar with Spiritualism or anything. But anyway, I took them out of that side of the building and I brought them over to the restaurant and put them in the stock room. And at that time, that's when there was lot of crazy things going on at that time. But the one evening I went to close up and I went outside and locked the gate. When I was coming in the front door after I locked the gate, the door just about closed and this ugly forearm and black hand – it almost looked charred looking - was coming right into the door. So I turned around and had just slammed the door and was walking through. I didn't turn the lights off or anything that evening. I just went straight and out the back door and closed it and took off. And that was one of the times that you know, it shook me up quite a bit. It was an ugly experience.
Did you ever see any other figures that had the same charred look ever again?
No, I haven't. That was the only time, and then we had gotten a hold of Diana and she came over and she said you know, those things need to go back where they came from in the other building because they don't like their items over here. Apparently they didn't get along when they were living – whoever was living on the restaurant side and on the other side didn't get along. So they wanted their stuff back. And then when we took it back it did quiet down. There's always things going on over here, but as far as the ugly pounding noises and stuff like that, it subsided when we took the stuff back.
Were you working the night that Ellie was attacked in the bathroom? Was she able to give a description of who had locked her in?
I wasn't here that evening. It was my mother-in-law, Ellie, and another lady, and it started kind of the same way – things with the chicken base flying down the hallway – it kind of started the same way. And she had seen the gentleman earlier, and she could describe him, you know the color shirt and everything, and then she ended up needing to go to the restroom, so she asked my mother-in-law to hold the door open a little bit while she was in there. And at that time, my mother-in-law felt the door pulling closed, and she heard it lock, so she just figured Ellie wanted the door closed. But anyway, Ellie went to wash her hands and looked in the mirror and saw him, saw the gentleman behind her. Then when she tried to get out the door, she was screaming at my mother-in-law to open the door, and it was quite an evening for them. My wife and I were out of town, and we told them to not worry about opening that evening, just go ahead and close and go home.
You had said that Diana Calamia, the psychic, was a regular patron. Did she tell you whether she felt anything was off in your restaurant in earlier visits?
Well she had picked up on some things, and again she was just a customer of ours. So, I didn't know she was a psychic or whatever 'til this other gentleman came in and then he introduced her as Lady D or this psychic Diana, and then we got to know them and everything. But, you know when I had asked she – and even when she comes in now, she still picks up on a lot of strange energy, some evenings a lot more than others.
How did you feel when Diana explained the practices of the Spiritualist church?
Well it was kind of strange because again I had never heard of that – people trying to talk to the dead or anything like that. But the certificate is stamped and chartered by the state of Texas, and once she told me I did a little bit of research of my own and sure enough that's what they do. So, we did try to talk to the lady that used to live there to kind of fill us in a little bit of what we found and what had gone on over there, but she wasn't really willing to tell us a whole lot of anything. But we did find like jars with different things and like old cans that had like hair – it was just a bunch of strange stuff, so you know they were doing something over there, you know? And the stuff – the jars and stuff they were in – were from years ago.
Do you have any idea why the spirits attacked you and your staff?
I really don't. That part I still don't really understand. They do cleansings or whatever, but… the way it's explained to me, it's if sometimes even if a customer comes in and they want to see something haunting or whatever so bad, sometimes it opens a door for another spirit or so to come in, and well like I said, that's just my understanding. I could be right; I could be wrong. But like I said, I still don't really understand it that well. But I tell you, whoever came in here – it was a lot of horrible things going on, and trying to operate a business with that kind of things going on is very difficult.
You mentioned that local residents are familiar with the story of your haunting. How has the local reaction been?
Like I said, some of the people really like it or they're intrigued in a way, and there's a lot of people you can tell that don't care for it, and there's still a lot of things like going on in the lady's bathroom. You know, you'll hear the lady screaming – they hold the door so they can't get out. It's kidding stuff… and I can understand, you know, them feeling the way that they do. But it isn't like we're hiding it from them or anything.
Since the cleansing and putting the papers back where you found them, a lot of the bad activity has died down, correct?
Well it still happens from time to time. We had an episode last week, you know, with the flour and the chicken base. I mean, it still continues. You know, it doesn't seem to be as bad at times, but we're still running up against it. And then my mother-in-law will call and she'll say, "Hey, we're waiting out in the patio. I don't want to be in there by myself and Ellie or whatever," and I don't know if they kind of have an attachment to Ellie or what the situation is. But it'll go – maybe we'll go three or so months and we won't have any problems in the kitchen, and then all of a sudden for some reason, you know, here we go again. But the stuff that happens in the dining room with the customers, you know it happens all the time. It's nothing. But like I said, it's more like practical jokes kind of stuff. They don't do anything to hurt anybody. You know, it's just movement of beer bottle, or glasses, or their soup bowl. You know, stuff like that.
Has this experience changed you in any way?
Well, it made me a believer. I can tell you that much. You know, I didn't think I would ever experience the stuff that I've had experienced since we've had this place. And there's been times too, I talked to my wife and said, "Hey, you know, maybe we put it up for sale…."
But no, we love our place. It's a nice restaurant, so we just have to deal with it as it comes along.