It’s no wonder Smith has lots to tell about Mercer
County. And some of her best tales involve ghosts.
“The first thing that happened in my restaurant?”
she muses. “A customer came to me and asked if I had
a dining room upstairs. She had heard lots of laughter
and people coming up and down the steps.”
This was news to Smith. Her restaurant, a former
house, had upper floors, but these were closed to
Still, the customer was adamant. “They were having
a real good time!” she declared.
Smith filed this away and didn’t give the matter
any consideration. But late one night, after closing
the restaurant, she sat in her car. It had been a long,
demanding day, and Smith let her thoughts wander.
As she composed herself, her gaze settled on the side
of the house. What Smith saw remains fixed in her
“There was a light from the window, and I literally
saw the curtain rising up, then down,” she says.
Then, lights turned on upstairs. Had someone
snuck inside? Smith and her staff returned to the
restaurant early the next morning, expecting to find
stolen items. Nothing was missing.
“We thought, ‘That’s really weird,’” Smith recounts.
Things became even more mysterious. During their
search, they found a flower arrangement on steps
leading to the basement. The feminine touch inspired
Smith to call the ghost “Mary.”
Things settled down for the most part. Almost
every night, though, the foyer door would creak open
around 9 or 9:15 p.m.
“I increasingly had the perception that the ghost—
or ghosts— were checking to see if we were still
there,” Smith said, noting that this happened after
closing hours. Once, a family arrived just before
9 p.m. The young daughter fretted about missing
her favorite show about ghosts. Smith was only too
happy to share stories about the restaurant’s haunted
Another child, a boy, remained unconvinced. “I
don’t believe in ghosts,” he insisted.
Just then, the foyer door creaked open.
“How did you do that?!” exclaimed an older lady,
turning to Smith.
The young boy instantly changed his tune. “I didn’t
say I didn’t believe in them!”
At other times, the ghosts were more active. Once,
while entering the attic, a waitress heard a harsh, low
voice telling her to leave. She quit that very day. At
another time, Smith’s adult daughter felt something
grip her arm with surprising force.
One of the customers had an alarming experience,
too. Smith remembers when an older man
approached her one afternoon.
“You know, this place is haunted,” he informed her,
looking strained. The gentleman had been in the
bathroom. When he tried to leave, the door wouldn’t
Prerogative Magazine 9