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SERVING UP PARANORMAL FORCES?

109-year-old Finley’s Bar & Grill lures plenty of ghost hunters

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SERVING UP PARANORMAL FORCES?

Deborah Finley shows pictures that depict paranormal activity in her Airport Way establishment. The Bar and Grill has been a popular destination with local ghost hunting groups and was featured on ...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED October 26, 2012 7:04 p.m.

The first time that Stacie Collin let a ghost investigator take her picture with a special night vision-style camera she saw a startling image.

A full-body apparition standing right beside her.

The chef at Finley’s Bar and Grill on Airport Way had long believed that there were paranormal forces at work inside of the 109-year-old building – seeing pots fall off of secured hooks without explanation and shadows appearing out of nowhere.

Getting locked out of the kitchen or inside of the bathroom when she was all by herself in the rural establishment didn’t help offer any peace of mind.

So it was only a matter of time before Finley’s became a popular spot for local ghost hunters that wanted to spend their nights searching for evidence of things typically unseen – communicating with the unknown and finding out who and what are hanging around.

And it wasn’t just the local outfits that wanted to get in on the action.

“When A&E called and said that ‘My Ghost Hunters’ wanted to come out and do an expose on the business I thought that it was a joke. I told them to leave their number and I’d have my people call their people,” said Deborah Finley – who bought the business in 1994. “When I checked with information I saw that it really was A&E. I called them back and they set everything up.”

That show gave Finley’s celebrity status among local paranormal enthusiasts that started stopping in and inquiring about new happenings and wanting to come in and do investigations of their own.

It got to a point, Finley said, where they actually had to cutoff the late night investigations because she didn’t want the restaurant and bar she built up over nearly two decades to become a spot pigeonholed by its unique characteristics.

“It drew an awful lot of attention and it got to a point where we had to say no more,” Finley said. “If people come in during the day and want to look around and they don’t bother customers we don’t mind that. But we found that at night the more people that we had doing investigations the more active that things became around here.

“We didn’t want to become the business known specifically for catering to that.”

But it were those investigations that might have helped Finley discover the identity of at least one of the spirits that she believes still may be hanging around the business.

Through EVP recordings and questions asked by groups that have spent time inside at night, three names kept popping up when investigators asked who the spirits were and what their names were.

They already knew of a little boy named Seth, so the other names – John, Frank and Jack – sounded like those of three other individuals that they believed were crowding the rural eatery.

It wasn’t until Finley took a trip to the Manteca Historical Society that she discovered something that shocked her – that the original property owner was named John Franklin Jack.

“We don’t know if that’s the same person for sure, but it seems to make sense,” said Finley – who has the history of Jack printed on the back of a menu that explains the impressive history of Jack, which includes him attending the fight where Jack Dempsey lost the heavyweight title to Gene Tunney. “There are other names that we have, but some of those families are still around so I’m kind of hesitant to say.

“It answers questions when you finally do learn names like that.”

Finley’s will be celebrating Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 27 starting at 6 p.m. A classical guitarist will be on hand to provide music while finger food will be available as a snack. A costume contest will begin at 9:30 p.m., and a card reader – Madam Sonia – will be providing fortunes. There will be a $5 cover charge.

Finley’s is located at 10477 S. Airport Way, and is open for lunch from Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. The bar is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The business is closed on Sunday. For more information call (209) 983-9493.

-- JASON CAMPBELL

209 staff rporter

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