While there is no reason why restaurants should be especially attractive to ghosts, Saratoga has its share of landmark dining spots and colorful spirits to go with them. Over time, the establishments have become well known not only for their delicious food but for the legends behind them.
The Olde Bryan Inn at 123 Maple Ave has a heritage that dates back to Pre-Revolutionary War days. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city. The Mohawks, in the late 1700s, gave Alexander Bryan, a revolutionary war hero, the right to build a tavern on their land. His log cabin was on a bluff overlooking High Rock Spring, and he built stairs up from the spring to his premises. This was in 1787 just as the spring was becoming a well-known attraction.
In 1825, John Bryan built a stone house on the site of his father’s tavern and in the early 1800s, it was modified and moved to its current location where it took on the look similar to what it is today. The inside of the restaurant has a feel of the earlier inn — complete with fireplace. Over time, the building has been a private home, a laundry, and in 1979, the current Olde Bryan Inn opened its doors to the dining public. Visitors and staff have reported appearances by the friendly ghosts who inhabit the Inn. The favorite is Beatrice who was seen by a young girl who came downstairs from the ladies room to describe a woman in an 1800s era flowing dress. She told her she was the wife of a soldier who was killed during the Battle of Saratoga.
It turns out that the high-necked Victorian dress she described was exactly the one that had been found in an old trunk discovered in the attic. Beatrice has also been seen ascending a staircase in the dining room on a stairway that was dismantled about 50 years ago.
Another landmark restaurant with a haunted reputation is Hatties on Phila Street. Supposedly, Hattie had a psychic ability that the Irish called “the sight.” She could see things that others could not. In 1998, when Hattie was 90, she passed from this world at Saratoga Hospital, and people working at the restaurant said that a strong breeze passed through the restaurant and doors opened and closed at the exact moment she died. Even today, there are strange occurrences there, and Chef Jasper, the owner, will say that it is the ghost of Hattie keeping an eye on the place. He says he often feels her presence and that of her husband, Bill. “It’s reassuring” he says, “almost like having them on your shoulder.”
The Mercantile Restaurant, 430 Broadway, was, at one time, the home of Professor Moriarty’s, a popular pub in Saratoga for more than 25 years and haunted by a ghost named Malcolm.
Malcolm Driscoll was a postman in Saratoga and after retiring, got a job as the night cleanup man at the pub. He had long flowing white hair and showed up for work in his vintage convertible. He loved to dance and often talked with the spirits in the building. One morning, Moriarty’s owner, Dale Easter, found Driscoll slumped over the bar. He had passed away during the night.
Then one day, after his death, a cook who debunked the myth was dared by his co-workers to walk around the basement’s pitch-black basement for 10 minutes. He descended into the darkness and ran up the stairs in a panic after a few minutes. While roaming around the basement, he bumped into what he thought was the ghost of Malcolm and fell. He never went into the basement again.
The Parting Glass Pub is located at 40-42 Broadway. During the 1920s, it housed gambling, Vaudeville acts, and even a few “ladies of the night” working out of upstairs rooms. It is built right on top of one of Saratoga’s springs giving it a direct link to the underworld.
There is also the “Woman in White” who has been seen in the upstairs window and a man who some have reported looks like one of the old regulars at the tavern. A promoter who brought his band here and took pictures has reported seeing an extra ghost-like image in the photos that looked exactly like the deceased owner of the place.
So, if you enjoy the legends of spirits like these with the spirits you imbibe, Saratoga is the place for you.
Joe Haedrich is the author of Haunted Saratoga. He gives ghost tours of Saratoga Springs every Friday and Saturday from May-October. For more, visit HauntedSaratogaTours.com.