Chances are if you live in Rexburg you’ve heard of the Haunted Swing, but meet BJ’s Bayou: a building over 120 years old and said to be one of the most haunted locations in all of Idaho.
17 years ago, Robert Berlin and his wife Cheril bought the abandoned building. They transformed it into what it is known as today — a Cajun restaurant.
“When this building was built, the Old West was still happening, and it happened in the street, right out our front door. It happened inside the building. It was originally built as a hotel and it had a bar and restaurant in it,” said Berlin, owner of the restaurant.
Transforming the building into a restaurant not only included a lot of hard work, but a lot of ghosts.
“We have women, we have children, we have mostly men in the spirits,” Berlin said. “One of the most well-known spirits here is the China-man. And the legend of the China-man is that he was either a laundryman or a cook here at the hotel. Some drunken cowboys went , dragged him out of his room, beat him , killed him and put him in a trunk, and took him out and threw him on an outgoing train. The thing about that spirit, like I say, he’s probably the most well-known. Sometimes we can hear the trunk going down the stairs in the middle of the night.”
“We have a little on that just loves to play hide-and-go-seek and he’s out at 3 or 4 in the afternoon,” said Cheril Berlin. “He’s actually covered in a sheet, so he’s the only one that actually looks like a ghost. And he is, he’ll play hide-and-seek until you see him, and then he’ll run to where he was at and disappear.”
“There’s a soldier that walks that balcony there. There’s a cowboy that comes in through that door, and he’s just a black shadow in a black hat and duster. Kind of walks in, looks around and kind of vanishes down the hallway. The children you can hear laughing sometimes. You can hear the women talking sometimes. You can see them out the corner of your eye,” said Robert Berlin.
“They look like humans, you can see through most of them. Some of them you can’t. We’ve had some where all you can see is basically a shape, the idea of the size,” explained Cheril Berlin. “We’ve got the two women and the two preteen kids. I’ll tell you what — that younger woman is beautiful. She’s got dark hair, she’s got her hair piled on top of her head. She’s wearing a green dress, full-length green dress. She comes out when I have prom tables.”
The Berlins are living with the fact that their home and business will always house spirits. They’ve even found that some spirits have pesky personalities. Some spirits hide the restaurant’s silverware and tools from the owners.
“They would steal the forks. We’d have a busy night and go back to roll the silverware the next morning and I’d have no forks. And I have no idea where they put them, and I don’t know what they do with them,” said Cheril Berlin.
Overall, they’re harmless and they bring in a lot of business to South-Eastern Idahoans looking for some Southern comfort food and a good scare. Whether you’re looking for either, or both, BJ’s Bayou can be added to your list of date night activities.