At first glance, you can easily spot Cleveland’s famous breweries, gorgeous harbor and cityscape lit up to perfection. But it’s what you don’t see that is intriguing for many locals — especially during this spooky month. A handful of Northeast Ohio bars and restaurants have welcomed (and exorcised) countless hidden ghosts and spirits. “Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s not real,” says Shelley Underwood, owner of Johnny Mango World Cafe & Bar. Here are three Cleveland eateries with a history of supernatural ongoings.
Johnny Mango World Cafe & Bar
Before becoming one of Ohio City’s most beloved restaurants, Johnny Mango had a tough time getting started. “There were ghosts in the restaurant before we opened 22 years ago,” Underwood says. Through the advice of her girlfriend, Underwood called Mary Ann Winkowski, legendary Cleveland ghostbuster and inspiration for CBS’ Ghost Whisperer, to remove four spirits from the place. The experience made Underwood a believer. “It opened my eyes a lot, because I was very skeptical,” she says. “She has proved without a shadow of a doubt that these things are real.” 3120 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, 216-575-1919, jmango.com
After the murder of its former owner and the death of a longtime sommelier, Lockkeepers has dealt with paranormal activities at two different locations. At its former spot at Rockside and Canal roads, spooky happenings in the basement were common. “One of the workers went down there and when he came up, his face looked like he’d just seen a ghost,” says Mary Maloney, a longtime waitress. “He quit the next day.” At the current location across the canal, general manager Brian Woehrman has experienced a few events. “We had a patron claim that all of the pictures in the cellar turned sideways when she was in there,” Woehrman says. 8001 Rockside Road, Independence, 216-524-9404, lockkeepers.com
Two spirits linger here: A young girl, who died trying to save the building from a blaze, is often noticed by patrons claiming to see a fiery ghost, and a maintenance man who hung himself above the stairway on Christmas Eve in the 1920s has been known to occupy the former Medina Steakhouse & Saloon. Whatever lurks at Serenite means business and isn’t just there for the trout almondine. “The mayor doesn’t even come around, because he’s afraid of the place,” says owner Brandon Chrostowski. From lights flickering to tables moving to a mysterious girl playing with toys, Chrostowski buys into it. “There’s something in that damn place,” he says. “And, you know, late at night, you feel it.” 538 W. Liberty Road, Medina, 330-952-2611, sereniterestaurant.com