Some consider it one of the most haunted places in California: The Banta Inn east of Tracy.
The establishment is so well known for its spirits, its owner had to acknowledge the fact that the place is haunted in order to receive the deed. Legend has it that the inn was first haunted by a mother and daughter who died in a fire in 1937.
Rumors that the building, first built as a two-story saloon in 1982 on the historic Lincoln Highway, was spooked began surfacing shortly after their deaths.
Today, the main “ghost” is Tony Gukin. He was the third husband of the owner’s daughter and he died of a heart attack behind the bar in the late 1960s. The haunted rumors intensified.
Witnesses still report seeing “Tony” sitting in the dining room – which is still operational today – and stacking coins at the bar.
Altamont Paranormal Research Society team Fred Speer and Chris Roe accompanied NBC Bay Area on a tour through the inn, where glasses sometimes tip over by themselves and the jukebox is known to turn on without the touch of human hands. The pair swear they’ve trapped Tony’s voice on their fancy ghost-catching equipment, sort of like a transistor radio.
“There is definitely something here,” Speer said.
“Something actually tapped my shoulder,” added Roe.
Chef Kelly Nicholson was at first a skeptic of all the lore. But he insists he’s seen a cup shoot off the wall, and a box thrown into a dish washer – all done, he suspects, without a flesh-and-blood human hand.
Now, he’s rethinking whether Tony is actually watching him cook his famous steaks and burgers behind the grill.
“You become a believer,” Nicholson said.