Prudhomme's Lost Cajun Kitchen is a great place to be if you're living. Or dead. It doesn't really matter.

If you're still lodged on this mortal coil, you'll enjoy the Cajun atmosphere, tunes and food. If chilling with the living is too passé for your soul, then it's still the black cat's meow.

The restaurant is nestled inside an 1800s hotel on the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Cherry Street in Columbia, Lancaster County. Standing outside Prudhomme's on a fall evening - with the wind whipping through the nearby oaks and maples, and the silhouette of the red-bricked building's spire against the starry sky - you feel like you're about to walk into an Edgar Allen Poe story.

Then you step inside, and you'll find it's got a bit more Ann Rice flavor. You'll find yourself surrounded by the sounds of zydeco music, the smells of Cajun cooking - celery, onion, green pepper and garlic, crawfish, oyster and, oh, the catfish - and walls covered in alligator skins and Mardi Gras beads. It's the closest you can get to New Orleans in the region.

But it's not just filled with the spirit of the Crescent City. It's filled with spirits in general.

Get co-owner Sharon Prudhomme talking and she is just as likely to brag about some ghoul that moved a grill block as she is the restaurant's jambalaya.

The venue's dining and spectral lore are why it is the perfect date for the Halloween season.

Grab a seat, check out the menu - I recommend the fried catfish po-boy, the catfish Prudhomme (catfish over crawfish etouffee and rice), and well, the catfish - and get ready for some spooky tales.


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Prudhomme can tell you about her first encounters with the spectral plane.

There's the story about the woman who - around three years after the family bought the restaurant - went to the ladies' room, saw a woman in white behind her, and screamed to the heavens.

"We were completely packed," she said. All the patrons heard the ruckus. Prudhomme rushed into the bathroom to calm the woman down. She recalls feeling electricity in the air.

The décor at Prudhomme s Lost Cajun Kitchen have a decidedly New Orleans influence.
The décor at Prudhomme s Lost Cajun Kitchen have a decidedly New Orleans influence. (FLIPSIDE - CHRIS DUNN)
She later called another employee into the room, who described the air as feeling different from the rest of the restaurant.

The story gets better.

A short time later, Prudhomme was stopped by another patron as she was pouring glasses.

"Have you seen the lady in the long white dress?" he asked.

Prudhomme recalled how the woman in the bathroom had talked about seeing a woman in white Victorian dress.

It turns out the customer had been related to one of the buildings' previous owners. He had seen the ghost before.

Since then, numerous patrons and employees have told similar tales. She and her husband looked into the matter and have had fun with the spirited tales.

They're not about to call Pete Venkman and the Ghostbuster.

"There is no bad entities, it's all friendly stuff," she said.

The Prudhommes - Sharon and her husband, David - have had psychics and paranormal researchers check out the place. An episode of Biography's "My Ghost Story" was filmed at the restaurant.

The couple didn't know what they were getting into, spiritually speaking, when they got the building. "No one said a thing," she said. "But I don't mind it."

She explains she doesn't mind working alone in the restaurant - "I talk to them," she said - and her husband has bumped into his fair share of ghostly beings.

They first bought The Rising Sun Hotel in 1997, after operating out of Leola for a couple years.

They quickly started renovating the place, adding their Cajun flair to the former hotel's atmosphere.

"Tearing down walls and changing things up might have stirred up something, something," Prudhomme said.

Maybe the changes brought out the dead.

"I think they're thrilled," she said of the spirits. "It went from a dead place to a living place."


If you go

On Oct. 20, Prudhomme's Lost Cajun Kitchen will host a buffet and discussion with CPS Paranormal from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $30.

A previous event in August sold out. Call 717-684-1706 for details.


Keep it going

Looking to extend your night out? Consider these:

More spooky brews

THE SPOT: Bube's Brewery

WHAT IS IT: A restaurant, brewery and museum in Mount Joy

WHERE: 102 N.

This certificate presented by Complete Paranormal Services asserts Prudhomme s Lost Cajun Kitchen has  paranormal activity.  It hangs near the restaurant s
This certificate presented by Complete Paranormal Services asserts Prudhomme s Lost Cajun Kitchen has paranormal activity. It hangs near the restaurant s entry. (FLIPSIDE - CHRIS DUNN)
 Market St., Mount Joy, Lancaster County

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. The bar is open until 2 a.m. daily.

DETAILS: www.bubesbrewery.com

HAUNTED HISTORY: Bube's also has a spooky past. Syfy's "Ghost Hunters" stopped by earlier this year to investigate its haunted happenings. Read about their visit at flipsidepa.com.

Ghostly meals

THE SPOT: John Wright Restaurant

WHAT IS IT: A restaurant with a haunted reputation in Wrightsville

WHERE: 234 N. Front St. in Wrightsville

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to

9 p.m. Saturday

DETAILS: www.johnwrightrestaurant.

com or call 717-252-0416

HAUNTED HISTORY: The John Wright Restaurant has hosted dinners about its haunted past.