Ghosts of Hampton Bays: The Villa Paul Apparition

Villa Paul Restaurant is a favorite local haunt—in every possible respect.

Waves of amber and crimson break across treetops, slowly shedding to the wintry bareness of branches.  Busy bays grow eerily calm as boats bunk on land for winter, and the ubiquitous summer bass beat from neighborhood nightspots is once again absent from the air.  As Hampton Bays falls into autumn, we witness an ever-recurring cycle, reminding us our time here on earth is finite.

But if stories are to be believed, some departed residents have lingered here long beyond their expiration date.

The middlemost hamlet of New York’s first English settlement is a hotbed for spiritual activity, even in the liveliest of places.

A year-round destination for elegant dining, is a favorite local haunt—in every possible respect.

“We’ve had various sightings and paranormal experiences from customers and employees going back years,” said Cheryl Pensa, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband Charles and daughter Cristen.

Some spot a lady specter—as two patrons have simultaneously.  Others swear they’ve seen a phantom pooch dart across the bar area and vanish into the wine cooler, on one occassion spooking one employee, a devout nonbeliever, enough to drop her tray and pierce the Saturday evening cocktail conversation with a gut-wrenching scream.  Another employee shed his supernatural skepticism mere months ago after allegedly watching a man in period clothing walk from the kitchen dishwasher, through a wall and into the private events room.

“He’d worked here for 30 years walking around saying, ‘I’ve never seen one, I’ve never seen one,”’ said Cristen.

The consistency of these accounts seem to bolster and aren’t simply fueled by a few too many glasses of pinot grigio.

Given a colorful history spanning three centuries, it would almost seem surprising for the property not to retain some sort of spiritual energy. Previously the estate of a local judge, the current structure envelopes an original 19th century farmhouse.  The present restrooms were once birthing rooms, darkly doubling as a makeshift mortuary when residents passed.  It also bordered the Danes Cemetery, an early Anglo burial site today marked only by a well-manicured lawn opposite the restaurant’s driveway.  And if you’re wondering where it went: nowhere. The judge’s widow had the headstones razed in hopes of making the property more saleable, leaving only town records to recall the earthly existence of those still interred there today.

Surely plenty reason for a spirit or two to stick around—besides, of course, the veal saltimbocca.

The Pensas possess perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence in a photo snapped for a Long Island restaurant guide, revealing what appears to be the silhouette of a person pacing the dining room.

“When she showed it to me, I asked, ‘Mom, why would you take a picture with someone standing in the corner?’  She didn’t even realize,” explained Cristen. “It was taken early in the morning with nobody else in the restaurant.  We went out to try and see what might cast a shadow, and nothing explains it.”

To read about the Lady of Red Creek ghost, click here.

b October 25, 2011 at 02:27 PM
It is interesting that there is mention of a dog. Locals recall that the owner of the property was an avid dog lover and had headstones fashioned her for pets when they passed on. Such an expense was a oddity for neighbors.
claudia October 25, 2011 at 03:06 PM
I loved this story. It's perfect for Halloween!!
Cheryl October 26, 2011 at 10:53 AM
After reading the first comment I remembered playing in the woods behind the restaurant as a child. There were several headstones in the area just behind the apartments that we built years ago. The two that I remember were "Buddy" and "Rags" I don't know which one is visiting the restaurant but they're welcome they don't eat much and more important we haven't seen any messes. Charlie
b October 26, 2011 at 11:44 AM
Really! That is neat Charlie. How weird that they would still be there (a few years ago!) when Mrs. Lazansky got rid of the human stones. thanks!
Barbara Frost October 26, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Interesting. I have been enjoying the Villa Paul for over 30 years which is also scary. My husband i were enjoying a romantic diner next to the fireplace a few years ago......everyone had left and we were thrilled to be alone when i remember looking over and called out to the waiter at the time i believe it was Jim. Well Jim was not in the dining room with us and we were still alone. I have always remembered that and it has always given me a chill.Well thanks for reminding me and if it is a ghost it's a happy one and most likely rummaging the fridge at night. Barbara


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