Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Is Moss Beach Distillery Haunted?

Moss Beach Distillery is located on the coast just 30 minutes south of San Francisco. Frank Torrez originally owned the building “built to look like a house” in order to deceive the authorities.

During Prohibition in the 1920’s Frank’s Place was the most popular speakeasy in California--silent film stars often came to drink the illegal booze served.

After Prohibition, the place continued as a restaurant--today Moss Beach Distillery is a favorite spot to eat for both locals and tourists. Besides good food, it provides an added attraction--it has a very famous but controversial ghost.

According to legend in the 1930s, a beautiful young lady named “Cayte” * who was married, fell for a piano player who worked for Torrez. Cayte had an affair with this man who was believed to be of questionable character.

Shortly after this affair began, an unknown assailant killed Cayte on a nearby beach. Since many witnesses have seen Cayte’s ghost. 

She is known as the Blue Lady because she wears a blue dress. She is seen roaming the cliffs around Moss Distillery’s beach-- many feel she still searches for her lover.

Her ghost has warned children to stay away from the edge of the cliff.

Since the 1930s, Cayte has also made her presence known in this restaurant. Staff and patrons have seen her apparition numerous times in this building. For years she made appearances in a mirror located in the original Ladies’ Room. This restroom has been torn down and remodeled in more recent years.

Her ghost sometimes moves items. Glassware is found misplaced, and one witness saw a checkbook levitate. Wine cases have been placed behind doors blocking people's entrance.

Two staff members, Byron Whipp and Patty Mckeller have reported seeing several items fly through the air.

One late Sunday night as they were doing the closeout paperwork, they stood at the top of the stairs in a wait station. Several leather books used to deliver checks to customers suddenly flew off the shelf, they were stacked on. They hovered in mid-air, then they dropped to the floor.

Flabbergasted, these two tried to re-create what they had watched in disbelief by knocking the books off the shelf, in various ways, but they never stopped in mid-air. 

They concluded that an unseen entity grabbed the books off the shelf and then held them before they dropped.

Another phenomenon that has occurred is the disappearance of various women's earrings. They are later found by staff all together in one place.

Other common occurrences include: Doors inside the restaurant are often found mysteriously locked from the inside and phone calls are received with no one on the other end.

This activity became so well known, that the owner started to receive complaints from patrons if nothing unusual happened while they ate. In response, he decided to install various “haunted effects” around the restaurant that was similar to the ghostly activity experienced at his restaurant.

Little did he know that this decision was to cause a hullabaloo ten years later.

Moss Beach Distillery today.
Unsolved Mysteries did an episode about the Blue Lady, and Loyd Auerbach a well-known parapsychologist ** began investigating the Moss Beach Distillery haunting in 1991.

The TAPS team from Ghost Hunters did an investigation for their television program in 2008. The premise of their show was that they had discovered these “haunted special effects”, and felt the owner of the Distillery was trying to dupe them into believing the restaurant was haunted.

Some fans of the show began to demand that the owner of the Moss Beach Distillery be brought up on charges of fraud.

I will not second guess what Ghost Hunters motive was, but here are a few facts.

The computer-driven “haunted effects” the Distillery installed were never kept secret. A lot of patrons who ate at the restaurant knew about them--they were and are considered a part of the entertainment while eating at this spot.

Also, several television shows long before the TAPS investigation had discussed these effects.

Loyd Auerbach who helped with the set-up of these haunted effects in the late 1990s, actually talked to a producer from Ghost Hunters a few days before the team did their investigation. He asked this man if he knew about the “ special effects.” The producer told him they knew about them.

Here are just two videos that mention the special effects.

So is this haunting real?

Loyd Auerbach points out that this haunting was observed by 100’s of witnesses since the early 1930s. He goes on to state, that there are many documented cases of this haunting in the 65 years before the “ haunting effects” were installed in the Distillery.

He points out, he did investigations in the building before these effects were installed. He actually has had several personal experiences in this restaurant, which included a ghost walking right through him.

View of the beach from the restaurant.
He considers the Moss Beach Distillery to be one of the more active places he has investigated. He also points out that Cayte does not make as many appearances-- as she used to--so it is a matter of being in the restaurant at the right time.

* According to Loyd Auerbach’s A Paranormal Casebook the real name of this ghost was Elizabeth Claire Donovan. She and her husband moved to the Bay area from the midwest. Soon after arriving in San Francisco she left her husband because he beat her.

She did become involved with Frank Torrez’ piano player. According to physic, Annette Martin who investigated the Distillery with Auerbach, the ghost likes to be called “Cayte.” She stated that her estranged husband tracked her down in Moss Beach, and upon finding out about her affair killed her in a jealous rage.

** In my post entitled, Parapsychology: Information all Ghost Hunters Should Know I share more information about Auerbach’s work.

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