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The most haunted place in West Michigan may be this Grand Haven restaurant

Employees have been experiencing haunted encounters at the Grand Haven restaurant for decades. We visited to put the rumors to rest once and for all.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — This week in 13 Eats, we're getting spooky! We’re headed to the famed Kirby House in Grand Haven to trick-or-treat ourselves to a Halloween feast and some fascinating ghost lore. 

We’re told their employees have experienced unexplainable encounters in the restaurant for decades. But before we check out the supposedly haunted eatery, let's dive into a little history first.

Located on the corner of South Harbor Drive and Washington Avenue in Grand Haven, the Kirby House is a gorgeous building with history going back over a century.

Credit: The Kirby House

The lot was originally used as a home built for the founder of Grand Haven, but it burned down in 1866. The Kirby Hotel was then built in 1873, welcoming guests from across the world.

Some notable owners over the next hundred years were A.J. and Winston Schuler, who created their iconic bar cheese (which can now be found at your local Meijer) right on the second floor of the building. They were the ones who decided the building should be used a restaurant.

Credit: Win Sculer's Cheese

The Kirby House we know today has been operating since 1989 when the Gilmore Collection bought the building and refurbished it, becoming beloved in the Grand Haven community.

For many in the area, the Kirby has a reputation apart from their delicious menu items — something much more eerie.

We talked with Amberrose Hammond, a Paranormal Researcher and Author, who has been investigating ghost stories and legends in Michigan for over 20 years.

"If you are interested in haunted stuff, then you definitely know the Kirby is haunted," Hammond said. "I had a lot of friends that would get jobs there, and they'd start talking about these weird little things that would happen."

Hammond explained what sort of paranormal encounters we should look out for on our visit.

She said there is a little girl, nicknamed Emily, who has been spotted multiple times over the years in the building by different visitors. Other alleged sightings include a civil war soldier and a woman dressed in Victorian garb. 

We got a tour through the restaurant from general manager, Tim Riley, and he showed us all the highlights of this beautiful old building. 

The large restaurants holds three different restaurants in it, as well as a tiki bar, a stage for live music, a patio, a billiards hall, private event rooms and a club in the basement.

On our visit, we got the opportunity to met a longtime employee who has witnessed many ghost encounters herself.

Taylor Schippers worked her way up from a dishwasher to a manager over ten years at the Kirby House. Nowadays, she works many late nights in the restaurant alone. 

If anyone can clear up some rumors for us, it's her. 

"It's mainly just voices, lights flickering, just really bizarre things that you try to rationalize that you can't," Schippers said, "I'm a very a logical person and I try to think that everything has an explanation, but after a while here, it's just like, there's no logical explanation."

But after a decade working in the haunted building, Schippers says the encounters are not quite as frightening as they once were.

"To be honest, most of the time, when things happen like that now, I'm so used to it, because I have been experiencing things like this for ten years in this building," she explained. 

"So, it's more or less like, leave me alone I'm not in the mood for it," she laughed.

Schippers says one story has stuck with her all these years.

After a birthday party in one of the restaurant's event spaces, a stray balloon wandered through the restaurant at chest-level, the height it would be at if a child was holding it. She explains it was quite an eerie sight for her and her coworkers as they watched it work its way through the large dining room.

Schippers believes the balloon incident could’ve been the ghost of Emily. A medium who visited the restaurant told Schippers a young bride was haunting the halls, who was apparently killed when she was pushed down the stairs. 

Hammond said the ghost of Emily can typically be seen running up the stairs in the main dining room. Learning about Emily's death from Schippers makes the sighting all the more terrifying. 

During our trip, there was one room in particular that our paranormal expert and our staff guide told us to look out for — their basement wine cellar where some visitors report seeing a Victorian woman. 

Naturally, that’s where we headed next to enjoy our feast. But before we could dive in, it was time to dispel these ghost rumors for ourselves, and figure out if we had company for our meal.

To get to the wine room, you have to walk through the entire basement of the building. Once you reach the bottom of the stairs, there's an ominous-looking, dimly-lit hallway that leads to the pitch black nightclub and dark-wood coated wine room. 

In the wine room, the air is still and the only sounds you can hear are the hum of the pipes and the creaking floors above. It's secluded, beautiful and historic-looking. If I were a ghost, that's definitely where I'd hang out.

Credit: Riley Mack, 13 On Your Side
The Wine Room in the basement of The Kirby House.

We pulled out our EMF reader when we passed the threshold, which is a device used to track electromagnetic readings, or, according to my research, paranormal activity. Right away, the activity on the monitor shot up. 

When we wandered around the room, certain areas saw upticks or decreases in activity. The corner of the room furthest from the door, though, saw the highest spike we had seen in the restaurant thus far. Each time I went back to the spot, the little monitor screamed with activity.

When I told their staff about my findings, they said a paranormal investigator once came to the restaurant and saw apparitions in the same corner. 

With a few extra guests seemingly joining us, it was finally time to find out if the restaurant wasn't just scary — but scary good.

We got to try three of the Kirby's most popular menu items. Their chef, Butcher, put together a menu that can be created vegan or vegetarian for anyone to enjoy. 

First came the Kirby Cashew Chicken Stir Fry ($16.99), which includes plant-based chicken breast, julienne vegetables, broccoli, Napa cabbage, cashews, their signature stir fry sauce and jasmine rice.

Credit: Riley Mack, 13 On Your Side
The Kirby Cashew Chicken Stir Fry ($16.99).

Despite being chock-full of delicious ingredients, this dish was light enough for a delectable midday meal. The best part was the combination of crunchy and soft in each bite, and how the fresh vegetables cut through the dark, salty sauce. 

Credit: Riley Mack, 13 On Your Side
The Kirby Cashew Chicken Stir Fry ($16.99).

Next, we tried the Kirby Wet Burrito ($14.69), which is seasoned, plant-based ground beef on a soft flour tortilla with Spanish rice, house enchilada sauce, a four-cheese blend, scallions, lime-cilantro crema, pico de gallo and tortilla chips on the side. 

For all those skeptical of plant-based meat, we dare you to try this burrito. It was incredible! We loved the mix of the creamy cheese coating the exterior with a hint of spice and lime cutting through each bite. Plus, serving it with tortilla chips makes it easy to scoop up all the burrito droppings for another snack all in itself — clean plate club, here we come.

Credit: Riley Mack, 13 On Your Side
The Kirby Wet Burrito ($14.69).

Finally, we dove in to their Cauliflower Steak ($15.79), which is
cauliflower steak lightly dusted and fried with roasted vegetable coconut rice, heirloom tomatoes, coconut herb oil and balsamic glaze to top it all off.

This dish was unlike anything we'd tried before, and despite my skepticism, it was delicious. The cauliflower is meant to mimic a steak in texture and form, and in a lot of ways, it truly works! We loved how hearty the vegetable is, with a wonderful, crunchy fried coating that pairs beautifully with the salty balsamic on top. Truly, it's worth a try for anyone who loves its steak alternative. 

Credit: Riley Mack, 13 On Your Side
The Cauliflower Steak ($15.79).

In all, The Kirby House was everything we hoped it would be, with delicious food and some spooky company. 

We completely understand why it’s so well-loved in the Grand Haven area. If you’re in West Michigan, it’s definitely worth a trip, but be sure to keep an eye out for some strange encounters.

You can text 13 Eats to (616)559-1310 to see restaurants that we’ve visited in your area or check out our website here

Be sure to email your suggestions to Eats@13OnYourSide.com to help us decide where to eat next — because here on 13 Eats, we’re always hungry.


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