SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The delicious Peruvian cuisine of Cafe Cusco has captured the hearts of many in the Ozarks. Maybe that’s why ghostly spirits have decided to take residence in the restaurant on historic Commercial street.
The history of Cafe Cusco’s building
The building, located at 234 E. Commercial Street, was built in 1883 by two brothers under the name Bartlet & Bartlet, a doctor and a pharmacist. In fact, if you look at the outside of the building you can still make out the original sign on the wall.
The pharmacy was downstairs while the doctor’s office was upstairs.
During that period Commercial street was the headquarters for the Frisco Railroad.
Around 1924, Paul Harris, the “Mayor of Commercial Street” made the building into a Bookstore and Wallpaper business. According to John Sellars with the History Museum on the Square, Harris Bookstore and Wallpaper would adapt with the times and begin creating greeting cards and paper supplies. Harris also rented out the upper floor for people to live in. The store closed in 1983 due to Harris’ passing.
“The building would eventually become abandoned and in disarray,” said Cafe Cusco owner, Joseph Gidman.
In 2010, artist Erik Kinkade oversaw the historical restoration of the building.
Cafe Cusco opened its doors on July 2013 under Gidman and his mother, Claire Gidman.
Is Cafe Cusco haunted?
According to the owners, yes.
Cafe Cusco has had several sightings of ghosts and other paranormal activities including hearing voices and running, flickering lights, broken glass and even opening the restaurant to find the strange placement of items throughout the building.
Gidman said the former owner of the property told him a story of a mysterious man in an old suit standing in the middle of the main floor while remodelers were working on the floors. Supposedly, the man didn’t say a word and turned around and began walking away from the crew, but began to disappear in front of everyone.
Gidman said the suited man made a more recent appearance to one of his servers. While the restaurant was closed down, a server noticed a suited man staring at her in one of the seating areas. She screamed. By the time the rest of the staff got to the server, the man disappeared.
He said that when he first opened the restaurant there was a piece of wood that caught his eye that was on the ground. The wood was from some decorative part of the building and it appeared to have been burned. Gidman put the piece of wood by a nearby table. The next day, he found the piece of wood on the ground again in the exact same spot. He thought it was odd that someone decided to leave it there again so he went out into the back and disposed of it. The next morning, it returned.
That wasn’t the only item that was strangely placed in the restaurant. One morning, opening up shop, Gidman found their collection of golden spoons placed on every other stair going up the stairs in the lounge, but everything was locked including the lounge door.
After contacting the Southwest Ghost Finders (SWGF), the investigators were able to gather a lot of findings of strange possibly paranormal activity. After three investigations, they were able to deduce that there are about three to four ghosts possibly residing in the Cafe, the suited man, two little girls, and maybe even one of the Bartlet brothers.
SWGF and the Gidmans have photos, videos, and audio of something they believe may be a ghost. The ghosts even know Joesph by name. In one of the investigations in the middle of the night, Gidman was feeling tired, but didn’t want to miss out on all of the successful findings they had that night. Just as he was saying his goodbyes, the Ovilus, a ghost hunting tool that supposedly allows ghosts to say words through a digital dictionary, said, “JOE GO HOME”.
“I love my ghosts… We’ve had people, you know… (say) ‘we’ll come do sage and we’ll cleanse.’ No. This is their home too… we love it. It adds to the atmosphere,” says Gidman. He said sometimes when the staff feels like it’s going to be a busy ghostly night, it is also when they make the most money. “If it makes a busy night and it brings more money… then they can stay!”
Ozarksfirst did a ghost investigation with the Southwest Ghost Finders in the video above. Check out what we found. It was very active that afternoon.