Some New Jersey restaurants are notorious sites for paranormal activity, especially those housed in old, historic buildings. Some were inns; others private homes. One was even a brothel.   

Ghost hunters have flocked to these storied buildings with sensors and cameras to try to interact with the rumored ghosts.

At these restaurants, workers and guests have heard whispers, felt ghostly hands, seen specters. So, keep your guard up when visiting. You might be dining with a few unexpected guests. 

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The Brass Rail, Hoboken

Paranormal investigators often mention The Brass Rail, a 1900s tavern that serves seafood and eclectic pub fare, as one of the most haunted locations in the state. Legend says a bride and groom celebrated at The Brass Rail the night of their wedding in 1904. The bride supposedly tripped at the top of the spiral staircase, causing her to fall from the second floor, break her neck and die. The horrified groom spent the night drinking, then hanged himself in a room next to the staircase. He left behind a note that said, “Now that my wife was taken from me, there is no reason for me to live.”

The couple supposedly haunts the staircase to this day. Servers claim to have seen them late at night while cleaning up. Others have reported sightings of different ghosts around the staircase, phone calls with no one on the other end and objects crashing to the ground and being moved by spirits.

Go: 135 Washington St, Hoboken; 201-659-7074,

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Elaine’s, Cape May

Restaurant, bar and dinner theater Elaine’s is located in a beautiful old Victorian home built in the 1860s, with a few ghostly occupants. Elaine’s is supposedly haunted by several human ghosts and a dead cat named Streak, according to owner Shirley Phinney, who has experienced many ghost sightings in the restaurant and has even heard them call her name. The most active ghosts are the father and daughter of the Reed family, the original owners of the home. The daughter died young due to consumption. The nurse who cared for her also haunts the building.

The ghosts are friendly, Phinney assures, and Elaine’s has hosted plenty of ghost hunting weekends for guests. If that doesn’t put you in a Halloween mood, Elaine’s also goes all out for the holiday, with ghoulish decorations and spooky lighting. Elaine’s is hosting a “drunken pumpkin carving” party on Oct. 28 and a costume party on Oct. 30. Stop by for a drink at one of its spacious bars and a bite to eat (and perhaps leave with a paranormal experience of your own).

Go: 513 Lafayette St., Cape May; 609-884-1199,

Emily’s, Ocean City

Millville prom goers gather in the lounge at The Flanders Hotel Friday, May 13 in Ocean City.

The Flanders Hotel has embraced its ghostly resident. So much so that its restaurant is named after her: Emily’s. Who is Emily? We’re not sure. The most enduring myth is that she’s a bride searching for her engagement ring. Flanders hosts plenty of weddings, and employees have said Emily will often show herself to the brides, and usually seems to be searching for something.