Mardi Gras mystery: Strange events at S & J Oyster Co. lead to talk of haunting
BY NICOLE MARSHALL MIDDLETON World Scene Writer
Thursday, February 07, 2013
2/07/13 at 4:57 AM
New Orleans is hailed as the most haunted city in the United States.
So the strange, ghostly happenings at S & J Oyster Co.'s new location in downtown Tulsa seem fitting for the Cajun restaurant.
On multiple occasions, glasses have flown off tables or shelves, doors have swung open and the staff has heard unexplained noises.
"The night that I came in to set up for our Christmas party, the music was blaring and crackers were crushed everywhere," said Lyn Virdell, a manger at the restaurant. "Some of the staff is scared to stay and close with me."
The building in the 300 block of East First Street was built in 1918 by Louie Jacobs, an early-day Tulsa merchant, and served as the Jacobs Hotel.
At the time, there were plans for the Union train depot to be constructed near the hotel. But the depot eventually was constructed farther west, and the building became virtually useless as a hotel and was used for storage and later leased.
Staff at S & J has heard through word of mouth and Internet sleuthing that parts of the building were used as a temporary morgue while a brothel occupied other parts of the structure, General Manager Christopher Stevens said.
It's a racy history, worthy of the restaurant's Big Easy influence.
Not everyone believes that the events are linked to a haunting, though. One of the owners, Michael Denson, said the building where the restaurant was previously located on Brookside also made its share of noises.
But the spooked staff members have been documenting the occurrences on Facebook for several months.
Here's a post from Nov. 17: "3rd ketchup bottle to fall off the shelf and shatter in 2 days, while we roll silverware in a different room. This place is getting SCARY!"
And here's one from Nov. 5: "As some may know, our building was once a morgue w/brothel next door around the turn of the century. Strange things have been happening after closing time. Barking sounds coming from bathrooms, neons switching on/off. Haunted? You come in and decide. Should make for an interesting Mardi Gras!"
Stevens said that he understands that older buildings can tend to creak and moan, but there are enough strange things going on to make you wonder.
"I believe there are spirits all around us - we just have to be watchful," Stevens said.
Original Print Headline: Spooky history
Nicole Marshall Middleton 918-581-8459
"Some of the staff is scared to stay and close with me," says Lyn Virdell, a manager at S&J Oyster Co. Unexplained noises and events at the restaurant have some wondering if the building is haunted. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World