Sunday mornings are the eeriest. It’s pitch-black out when Rick Austin opens Ashley’s Restaurant in Rockledge for the day.
He’s alone. So, what accounts for the sounds of someone knocking on the doors of the bathroom stall, a door slamming and flickering lights in the kitchen?
“Sometimes, you feel like someone’s behind you. I’ll sense someone is there. I look over my shoulder. But nothing’s there. You see a reflection, but it’s actually yourself,” Austin said.
His experience is not unique. Ashley’s is said to be one of the most haunted restaurants in Florida. It first opened in 1933 as Jack’s Tavern, about the time of the repeal of prohibition. Since then, it has gone thru several name changes and owners.
Greg Parker said he was unaware of the ghostly legends surrounding the restaurant when he bought it in November 1985.
Its reputation has attracted ghost-hunters, psychics, paranormal investigators and a television crew hoping to include its story in a pilot called, “Haunted America.” Their encounters were picked up by Fate Magazine. But the show never materialized.
They saw “what looked like a head-shaped spot of darkness, which on the Thermograph means a cold spot. That quickly vanished,” states Fate Magazine, July 1994.
Then one of the three-man team, R. Andrew Nichols, from Florida’s Center for Paranormal Studies, yelled from the ladies’ room, “Do you see that?”
What they saw on the monitor “was what looked like a cylindrical object floating in mid-air. It was not solid, but fairly well-defined.”
Parker has heard all the stories. He said his wife, employees and customers have experienced some of them.
“My wife was walking downstairs once. She said she felt someone touching her on the shoulder,” Parker said.
Others have reported feeling they were “pushed by an invisible force” while going up or down the stairs closest to the ladies’ room.
Ghostly encounters have rattled a few customers and employees.
“One night, Lisa, a waitress, was outside crying. She said she saw the ghost, and never came back,” Parker said.
Someone going by the building said they saw a couple fighting in the apartment that was upstairs at the time, Parker said. On the restaurant’s website, it states that “one manager has seen the feet of a woman dressed in 1930s-era footwear in the next stall” in the ladies’ room, “only to exit her own stall and find that the other one is empty.”
“Patrons have also reported apparitions of a young woman in the bathroom mirror.”
“A psychic said that’s where the woman ran down the stairs and hid. He found her and killed her. That’s why the ladies’ room is haunted. The spirit stays there,” Parker said.
Ethel Allen is not the only ghost on the premises. Parker said a man and a little girl also have been spotted there.
Liz Burton, a bartender and waitress at Ashley’s recalls a little girl, about 4 or 5, who was quite agitated as she described an encounter she had to her grandfather.
“Pop Pop, tell that little girl to quit messing with me,” the girl said of the ghost girl. “No one had told her about a ghost,” Burton said.
Is Ashley’s haunted? Parker says after all the investigations; each has drawn their own conclusions. He suspects ghosts do hang out at Ashley’s because they have a connection to the restaurant and they went before their time.
Or, maybe they’re drawn to the excellent food and the wine. That’s the only spirits we saw when we were there, ones being poured by the bartender at the bar.
Video: Ethel Allen and Ashley’s – A real short, short on the haunting of an eatery in Florida. Narrated by author Charlie Carlson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wBZwVU1qa0&list=PLtGzb-24ISTBK2U2snCKG_qQjTlgUe6tA&index=2
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Photos taken by Judy Berman at Ashley’s Restaurant on Oct. 5, 2013:
* Ashley’s Restaurant, U.S. 1, Rockledge – it’s said to be one of the most haunted restaurants in Florida
* Greg Parker, owner of Ashley’s Restaurant
* a spirit on the staircase? – a framed photo in Ashley’s
* caught in the spider web – Halloween decorations at Ashley’s
Fate Magazine article – Psychic Frontiers – July 1994 http://www.spookhunters.com/spookhunt/ashleysrestaurant/Fate0794.doc
Photo – a spirit on the staircase at Ashley’s Restaurant in Rockledge? The original photo is on the website of Ashley’s of Rockledge hauntedhouses.com http://www.hauntedhouses.com/states/fl/ashley-rockledge.htm