Hutchinson Some strange and spooky things have happened at the Blue Duck Bistro since owner Linda Dillon opened it in downtown Hutchinson four years ago.
Sometimes, when the restaurant is closed, employees hear a woman's voice, or smell perfume that no one is wearing, or hear footsteps creaking up the stairs.
Ben Murray, executive chef and manager, said after opening day, he found money he had left in the cash drawer the night before out of the drawer the next morning, but no money was missing.
"I think she was warning us not to leave the money like that," Murray said of the ghost, which Dillon has named Ada Pegues, in reference to the old Pegues department store that used to be in the same building before it closed in 1998.
To try to explain the mystery, Dillon called in the Hutchinson Area Paranormal Investigation, a group that meets monthly to talk about and hunt the unexplained.
During an Oct. 15 investigation, ghost hunter Sharon Surface shined her flashlight across an empty third floor of the old four-story department store.
"If anyone has anything to say, feel free to speak," she said from an empty dressing room.
The temperature had fallen a few degrees, which is one possible sign of the paranormal, she said, but she added that such fluctuations also can have rational explanations.
"You have to go into it skeptical," she said. "There can be a logical explanation for a lot of things."
But Surface, on ordained minister, definitely believes in ghosts. She said she has performed banishments, had ghosts throw objects at her and recorded their voices on a digital recorder.
"I've seen, talked to and played with ghosts when I was a child," she said.
Surface's club has investigated other places in the Hutchinson area but won't reveal where to keep clients confidential.
During the visit Oct. 15, club members split into groups and went through the Blue Duck and the old Pegues. They measured for temperature changes, taped video, took photos and asked the presumed ghost to make itself known, if it wanted.
They had researched the century-old building before they came and found no murders or deaths had occurred inside the building, with only a nearby trolley accident in 1900.
The investigation didn't prove, or disprove, the Blue Duck is haunted.
No voices were recorded, no shadowy movements were caught on video. The closest to the unexplained was a colorful orb in one picture.
That doesn't mean Ada doesn't exist, Surface said.
"I'm at the personal belief that loved ones do pop in and say, 'Hey!' now and again," she said.