They can’t prove it, but they know something is out there. Or maybe in there. Or, well, both.
“They” would be the employees of the Crown & Anchor British Pub on East Tropicana Avenue, who for decades have collectively had experiences that don’t lend themselves to rational explanation.
“We’ve heard the stories over the years,” general manager June LeMay said. “It’s almost become commonplace: ‘Oh, that’s just the ghost.’ “
For the most part, the ethereal presence has been elusive. Mischievous, too; most of the reports tend to involve inanimate objects moving on their own but not causing injury. Owner Ron Schultz remembers the first one, shortly after the pub opened in 1995. Schultz and a server were in the dining room when an ashtray flew off a shelf. He didn’t see its flight, although he did see where it landed about five feet away and the server told him what happened.
“I believed her,” Schultz said.
Another time, he said, a bartender saw someone walk up the stairs to the pool-table loft. But the person never came down.
“There’s one way up, one way down,” Schultz said.
“The cooks experience a lot,” LeMay said. “They’ve seen a little girl in a nightdress,” outside the back door in the middle of the night. “She’s scared. She’s barefoot. And then she just disappears.”
And while the stories could easily be attributed to groupthink or collective hysteria, one thing stops Schultz and LeMay from making that assessment. The reports coming in intermittently — and independently — over the past 24 years have had striking similarities.
“Too many employees over the years have seen stuff,” Schultz said.
“They don’t know each other,” LeMay added.
Lesley Harrington, a server since 2009, said many occurrences have defied explanation. Glasses being knocked over. Items falling off shelves. The big lantern that hangs over the bar suddenly swaying. The laughter of children heard in the pool loft.
Bartender Maria Tsagrinos felt uneasy during her first week of work, seeing something over her shoulder, an ashtray fly off the bar, glasses falling over, hearing a “gut-wrenching scream” in her ear, but she kept forgetting to ask Schultz about it. Then one night she was doing paperwork at a service well near the front door when some solidly stacked machinery starting falling, prompting her to jump to catch it. She asked Schultz if she could see the video, and he said, “Don’t worry, we have a ghost.”
Server Jessica Martino recently was standing while rolling silverware, next to LeMay, when a pile of cards shot out from a shelf, in a shuffle-like effect one after the other.
Bartender Lindsey Cruz was there when a rack of cups and mugs lifted up and tipped over onto the floor.
And cook Jason Trujillo has had three experiences. Once when he was in the walk-in fridge, he felt someone pinch the back of his leg. Another time, he’d left the kitchen and returned to find the bread dumped all over the floor. Still another time, he felt someone brush against his backside and turned to find no one there. Just then, another employee came through the back door.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he told Trujillo.
“It was pretty alarming,” Trujillo said. “Did I just feel that? This place definitely has activity; I’ve been touched twice and see (stuff) fly off the shelves. When you start hearing your co-workers talk about stuff, you think, ‘I’m not crazy.’ “
Schultz said the building dates to the ’70s and was a wine store and a restaurant before it became the Crown & Anchor. He doesn’t know of anything particularly negative happening there in the past 25 years. But it’s filled with artifacts, which could come with hangers-on of their own. And Harrington said it isn’t uncommon for families to come in after funerals of loved ones, so maybe an old customer just decided to stick around.
Or maybe someone’s just carrying on tradition.
“It’s not uncommon for pubs in England to be haunted,” Schultz said. “It’s kind of par for the course.”
Which may be another reason British expatriate LeMay remains convinced.
“Even customers have said stuff,” she said. “I think something’s there. Something’s out there.”