The Associated Press
CASCADE, Iowa – Recent strange events at a Cascade restaurant have the owner and his employees spooked.
Pat Orr, owner of Chuck and Edna’s Maid-Rite, 325 First Ave. W., enlisted the help of Iowa City Ghost Hunters to investigate a series of unexplained phenomena in the restaurant that started April 14.
“(Employees) have been saying they’ve seen strange things ever since the place opened, and (I) blew it off until I saw the video,” Orr told the Telegraph Herald.
The first seemingly unexplained disturbance took place just before 6 p.m. April 14. The store’s security camera captures an amorphous shadow at the restaurant’s dishwashing station that slowly forms into what looks like a person and drifts off screen. The video shows the feet of a Maid-Rite employee at the edge of the frame, but the employee told Orr she saw nothing unusual.
“It looks like it’s coming out (from underneath the cooler), goes across the floor and up over the dishwasher,” Orr said. “But, you see, I can’t make a shadow here. I don’t know. I don’t know what it is.”
Orr acknowledged the figure could have been an insect on the camera lens.
Then, at about 10 a.m. April 19, another security camera shows a stack of Styrofoam cups sliding off a shelf and hitting a worker in the head, while another stack falls sideways as if it was pushed.
Another night, Orr was alone in the office doing paperwork when he heard a metal spatula fall to the ground, he said.
“It was on the cooler at the end of kitchen, and I found it on the floor in the middle of the kitchen in front of the fryer,” as if it had been flung across the room, Orr said.
Not knowing what to make of the events, a manager typed “ghost hunters” into the Web browser on his smartphone and pulled up Iowa City Ghost Hunters.
Matthew O’Brien, 30, of Iowa City, and his team of paranormal investigators spent the early morning hours one day last month at the restaurant, recording audio, video and electromagnetic field readings and trying to re-create the shadow.
Among the devices they use to record paranormal activity is a “ghost box,” a modified portable radio that continuously scans AM and FM radio bands. When on, it is believed to create white noise and audio remnants from broadcast stations that entities are able to manipulate to create words and sentences. O’Brien said audio and video recording devices are portals for the supernatural to communicate.
The team also tried to provoke activity by talking to the entity and placing flashlights on tables around the restaurant, asking the spirit to turn them off or on to respond to questions.
O’Brien, an entrepreneur by day who is attempting to launch a cleaning service, said he and his team still are reviewing all the evidence collected and can’t say whether the restaurant might be haunted.
He would not share what the team encountered during its investigation, saying Orr signed a confidentiality agreement preventing him from disclosing evidence gathered.
O’Brien said the team also is researching the history of the property dating back to the 1800s to see what else has been on the land.
Orr said the site was a vacant lot when he purchased it about five years ago, but he recalls seeing an old, undated photo that shows a building on the spot that sold ice cream.
At one point, the site also was home to a grocery store, tavern and feed store. Behind the restaurant, across an alley, sits a house that was once a funeral home and next door was an ambulance garage, Orr said.
Bradley Burt, Maid-Rite president and CEO, has not seen the tapes and is dubious of the paranormal research.
“But Pat is a good operator, and if it creates some curiosity and interest around town and brings more people to his restaurant, that’s OK,” Burt said. “He’s having some fun with it, which is fine. I chuckled when I first heard about it. I thought it was amusing. Can’t say I’ve heard of anything similar at other Maid-Rite locations.”
Orr remains baffled by the disturbances and has named the supposed ghost “Charlie” after his father, Chuck.
“Could it have been a bug on the camera lens causing the shadow? I suppose,” Orr said. “But I can’t explain the cups or the spatula. ... What I do know is my 4-year-old niece won’t come in the restaurant. Fortunately, if it is a ghost, it’s been a friendly one so far.”
Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com