October 27, 2010

Soup to Nuts: Maine restaurants serve up spooks du jour

Do you believe in ghosts? They do at the Maine Street Grill in Standish, where things go bump night and day ... and that's not the half of it.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

STANDISH — Scott Berry, kitchen manager at the Maine Street Grill, was cooking some pasta. He turned away for a moment, and when he turned back, the spoon he had placed on the edge of the stove was in the middle of the floor.

click image to enlarge

Slamming doors, running footsteps, children giggling and that inexplicably moving spoon are just a few of the signs of the ghosts believed to inhabit the Maine Street Grill.

Photo illustration by Michael Fisher/Staff Artist – Photo of Maine Street Grill by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Visitors to the Maine Street Grill are urged to be cautious on the stairs, where there have been instances of people feeling pushed by unseen forces.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Hmmm. He hadn't heard it fall. Figuring he must have knocked it over, he washed the spoon well and placed it farther back on the stove, where there was no way it could be knocked off.

Once more, he turned away for a moment, and when he turned back the spoon was in the middle of the floor again.

"At that point," Berry said, "I just tell him to stop, I don't have time to wash dishes all night."

"Him" is one of the ghosts that haunt the Maine Street Grill. The spirits manifest themselves in various ways, from little pranks in the kitchen to frightening dark eyes that glare from the hallway.

The staff hears voices murmuring, children giggling, doors slamming and the sound of footsteps overhead. Every morning, a ghost greets line cook Adam Baker with a friendly tug on his apron.

A digital radio in the kitchen changes stations by itself and turns itself on and off, even when it's plugged into different outlets. Take-out boxes occasionally fly off of a shelf in the kitchen. The fryolater regularly shoots from 350 degrees up to 400 without any of the cooks touching the dial.

"Up on the third floor, there's supposedly a woman that was murdered, and she attracts children," said Allie O'Brien, one of the wait staff. "She's also very friendly, very touchy, very caring, maternalistic. She will touch your hair."

The fairly new restaurant – it opened in March at the corner of Routes 25 and 35 – is in one of the oldest buildings in Standish, also known as the Thompson House. The first 30 acres of the Standish settlement was given to a Reverend Thompson, who lived here with his family.

WASHINGTON DANCED HERE?

When the house was built in 1783, it only had two stories. In 1845, the reverend's eldest son, William E. Thompson, added a third level with a floating dance floor and turned the place into an inn and tavern. George Washington may have danced here once when he came to town.

Another rumor is that an American Indian servant – the woman O'Brien says touched her hair – was killed in a corner of the dance room.

Dan Roberts, owner of Maine Street Grill, knew none of this when he rented the old building with an option to buy.

"I didn't hear (any ghosts) until I'd already committed, and during the buildout we started hearing plenty," Roberts said when he took me on a tour of the haunted restaurant last week.

The previous occupant of the building had been Fairpoint Communications, so Roberts needed to do a lot of renovations before opening. While he was working, a woman stopped in and introduced herself, then said she wanted to tell him a story.

The woman told Roberts she once babysat for a little girl who lived in the house. One day, the woman found the girl up on the third floor, which at that time was the attic.

But the girl wasn't alone. There was a female ghost standing next to her.

The woman thanked the ghost for watching the little girl, took the child downstairs, "and never babysat there again."

Roberts was not a believer, but during the renovations, that began to change.

"I was in the basement and heard someone come in the front door and down the hall," he recalled. "I came running upstairs, and found both doors still locked and nobody in the building. Since then, it's happened several times," including one Sunday three weeks ago when customers told Roberts they heard someone running on the third floor. Again, Roberts checked it out, but no one was there.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Dan Roberts, owner of the Maine Street Grill in Standish, says a litany of incidents at the restaurant have convinced him that the building is haunted by ghosts. The drawing at right, which Roberts found on the wall when he renovated the building, is of girls skating on a pond; Roberts believes that at least one of the ghosts in the restaurant is a young girl.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

  


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