Moon River Brewing Company: my favorite haunted restaurant

Since it’s October, and that means the weather cools off a bit (it’s slightly less humid), I’ve been getting a lot of requests for my favorite haunted and creepy spots to visit in Savannah. Moon River Brewing Company is always one of my recommendations.

The food is good, the beer is fantastic, and there are plenty of ghosts to haunt your Halloween dreams.

The brewery was not named for the Johnny Mercer song from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, even though a local river was renamed in honor of the song. It was actually the result of a late night brainstorming session by the owners before they opened. One wanted a celestial name and the other suggested they add “river” because it’s close to the Savannah River. But if you want to tell yourself it was inspired by Audrey Hepburn sitting on a fire escape while strumming a guitar, you go right ahead.

Aside from the good food and beer, Moon River attracts people because of it’s haunted history.

The building was Savannah’s first hotel from 1812 to 1864. It was later used as a warehouse and then an office supply store, before finally becoming the brewery.

During its time as a hotel, it saw famous people, at least one deadly shooting, and a pair of lions. Yes, you read that right. Lions.

The lions would sit on the first floor during the day because the owner thought they made the hotel seem glamorous and hoped they would also dissuade people from starting fights.

In the evening, the lions were allegedly chained in the basement. Some people say they can still sense the presence of the once wild animals now eternally trapped in captivity.

Some believe the worn part of the posts is where the lions were chained.

I was talking with a friend who used to work there, and she told me there’s more than just lion ghosts in the basement.

She told me that several employees, including herself, have encountered a dark presence down there. She said the first time she saw it left her so traumatized that she refused to go down there alone after that.

Does a dark presence haunt this basement?

The ghosts that most people will tell you about at Moon River are the ones on the main and upper floors.

One is believed to be a hotel worker who died in the building. She’s known as Mrs. Johnson or the Woman in White. Mrs. Johnson is blamed for missing and moved tools, and people claim she pushed a construction worker’s wife down the stairs during remodeling.

The other ghost is James Stark. Stark, according to most sources I’ve found, was not a nice guy. His anti-Semitic words pushed a local doctor too far one day.

Dr. Phillip Minis challenged him to a duel since Stark refused to apologize for his hateful views of Minis and his faith. There was a disagreement over the time and place for the duel, and Stark ended up telling everyone in town that Minis was a coward. This all ended when the two came face-to-face on the main floor of the hotel that became Moon River. Shots were fired, Stark died, and a trial found Minis not guilty of murder.

Now it’s said that James Stark’s loathsome spirit haunts the first floor of the restaurant making life hard for workers, and occasionally, following people home to wreak havoc until he’s forced to leave.

So if you want to dine with the hottest of haunts, hit up Moon River Brewing Company next time you’re in town.

Moon River Brewing Company
21 W Bay St.
Savannah, GA

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