Editor's Note: This story originally ran in October 2011.
The Country House in Clarendon Hills is known in the Chicago area for its burgers, but it’s also known for something else.
“I took a ghost tour once, many years ago, and one of the stops was this restaurant,” said Diana LaPointe, who has been a longtime patron of the restaurant.
Lynn Banks, the restaurant's manager, has worked there for 29 years. She said in that time she's frequently felt the sensation of being watched.
"I've seen shadows go by, and you go look and nobody’s there besides you," said Banks. "We’ve had customers that have made comments, especially about the women’s bathroom. They’ll be in one stall then they’ll hear the other one open and close, and they’ll see a shadow or something, but nobody else is in there.”
Because of the experiences reported by people who have frequented the establishment over the years, the Country House has become a favorite haunt, not only for customers, but for people interested in the paranormal.
"We have had different groups leave cameras or video recorders or voice recorders overnight," said Banks. "On one of them they got very clearly someone whispering the word lost.”
Restaurant employees say the believe they know who the ghost might be, thanks to a couple of psychics who visited the building after strange things started happening.
"They said there’s definitely a spirit. She didn’t die here. She died near here around 1956 ... something about unrequited love with a bartender," said Banks.
As the story goes, the young woman left the bar very upset after an argument with the bartender and was involved in a car crash soon afterwards.
"The witnesses said it looked like she intentionally ran her car into a tree or a telephone pole down the street," said Banks.
Since then, not only have people said they’ve seen ghosts, but security cameras also have caught images on video that investigators can’t explain.
The restaurant’s handyman, Frank Waidzulis, said he saw the ghost himself while working late one night. At one point, while he was working in the restaurant's bathroom, the jukebox in the bar came on. Waidzulis said it started playing the same song again and again. He went out into bar area and found he was unable to shut the jukebox off. Suddenly, the jukebox shut off by itself.
Waidzulis said this happened two more times. After the fourth time, he decided to try to fix the jukebox again.
"This time when i went out, there was something in front of the jukebox, what appeared to be a girl in a blue dress," said Waidzulis. "But when i looked at her, there was only the body from the head down to about the knees. There was nothing from the knees down to the floor."
He realized later that the song that had been repeating on the jukebox wasn't even programmed into it.
Over the years, seven investigative teams have come to the Country House to study paranormal activity.
Patch followed one team around who said they were able to communicate with the ghost through using a flashlight.
"It seems to respond with turning the lights on or blinking the lights to yes and no," said Lisa Jahnke, a lead investigator with All City Paranormal.
Jahnke said the group used the flashlight method as an electronic voice phenomena session (EVP) session, hoping to record answers to their questions on tape.
Although the team said they received answers to several questions, members still do not know exactly why the ghost is there or what they can do to help it move on.
For now, employees and patrons of the restaurant will continue to think of the ghost as just another regular.