3 Nov 2009
Owners can't explain tavern's creepy incidents
|Kate Day Sager/Olean Times Herald Randy and Debbie Korkowicz, owners of Randy’s Up the River restaurant and tavern on Nine Mile Road in Allegany, believe the business is haunted. Mr. Korkowicz is pointing to a shelf where a number of liquor bottles have fallen off for unexplained reasons.
ALLEGANY - Randy Korkowicz isn’t the type of man who scares easily, but he admits that there have been creepy incidents through the years at his business, Randy’s Up the River, that have given him chills.
Mr. Korkowicz and his wife, Debbie, recently talked about the hauntings they and their staff have witnessed at the historic structure located on Nine Mile Road in Allegany. While the topic is brought up more during the Halloween season, they said unexplained incidents happen throughout the year.
Mrs. Korkowicz, who is a native of Austin, Pa., and her husband, who is originally from the Buffalo area, said they purchased the business 21 years ago. She had worked for a former congressman in the area and he had worked as a light technician for regional bands before buying the business. They said they wanted to live in the Allegany area because it was located halfway between their native communities and appeared to be a nice area to raise their child, Rikki Lynn, who is now an adult. When the former Terry’s River View tavern was put up for sale in 1988 they decided to buy it.
“We named it Randy’s Up the River because we figured we would be up the river without a paddle,” Mr. Korkowicz said with a laugh. He said when they purchased the business it had a very limited kitchen and was primarily operated as a bar.
“We really built it up to what it is now” as a restaurant and tavern, Mr. Korkowicz said. He noted the restaurant has a full menu and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to midnight for lunch and dinner. The tavern remains open to 2 a.m.
The couple said they believe the building was constructed sometime around 1869 as a hotel. It was also believed to have been a stagecoach stop in its early years.
“There are still four hotel rooms upstairs and the proprietor’s apartment,” Mr. Korkowicz said.
He said they have been told the business was operated as a speakeasy by Ma Reesnor during the Prohibition Era. The business was also believed to have been owned by brothers Jim and Tim Brushingham in the 1890s.
“There were a lot of rough-and-tumble times here” in the old days, Mr. Korkowicz said.
He said he first realized the place had unusual happenings immediately after he had purchased it.
“I was the only one in here and I was sitting at my desk doing reports in the basement when I heard obvious footsteps upstairs,” he said. When he checked, there was no one to be found in the business that was locked up tight. He said the footstep sounds became a regular occurrence.
He and the staff also experienced other unnerving incidents.
Mr. Korkowicz said he discovered that when bottles of a certain type of liquor were left on a top shelf in the bar, the bottles always fell off for unknown reasons. When the liquor was replaced with another type of alcohol, the incidents stopped.
Mr. Korkowicz said there were many times when he was alone and closing up the business at night when he would have ghostly pranks played on him. After he would dead-bolt all of the doors, he would become frustrated a few minutes later when he would find them unlocked again.
“I would turn the lights on, lock them back up and say ‘Now, stop it!” he said.
Mrs. Korkowicz said she also has had eerie experiences in the tavern that have included hearing footsteps in the building when no one else was there.
She said a more recent experience occurred a couple of months ago when she was sitting playing a video game and two women started to step into the business.
“One tall blond woman came in and went up to the bar ... and her friend stepped inside the door and stopped,” Mrs. Korkowicz said. “She looked around and said ‘There’s somebody here ... and I don’t mean someone of this dimension.’ She stepped back out the door and said she wasn’t coming in.”
The couple and their staff said they also had seen what they thought was an apparition walking into the business through a front downstairs door. The door can be used to access the upstairs rooms, and leads to an alcove where a pay phone had once been located.
“You’d know with your peripheral vision that you saw somebody come in that door, but there was no noise,” Mr. Korkowicz said. “Then you’d wait to see if they would come around to the bar (or hear them go upstairs) ... but when you’d look, nobody was there.”
Mrs. Korkowicz said she and some of her staff saw the vision enough times to realize the apparition always was dressed in a plaid shirt and blue jeans.
Mr. Korkowicz said there have been other weird, unexplained happenings in the place but the most unnerving thing happened to him while he was opening up the kitchen five or six years ago.
“It was about 9 in the morning and I came in to change the frying oil in the fryers,” Mr. Korkowicz said, remembering he was alone. “I’m bent over (the fryer) and right behind my right ear my hair moved from the breath (of a hissing voice) that said ‘Randy!’
“It (voice) was right here and my hair moved,” he said while pointing to the area behind his ear. “I jumped up (spun around) and I didn’t know who snuck in on me.”
After seeing there was no one there, he quickly walked out to the parking lot, definitely unnerved.
“That got me, right there. That was something,” he admitted.
He said his cook and bartenders also have heard their names hissed by the same male voice. The cook said there have been many times when items have been moved in the kitchen, almost under her nose.
Mrs. Korkowicz said she, also, has heard her name hissed or whispered by a male voice on a number of occasions.
“I heard it so many times that I thought they (staff) were teasing me all the time,” she said. “I quit responding to hearing my name called to the point where I was ignoring somebody standing beside me and calling my name.”
Mr. Korkowicz said he doesn’t believe the ghostly presence in the business is malicious, instead he thinks the apparition is just having a bit of fun and pulling pranks.
“Maybe somebody just doesn’t want to leave,” Mr. Korkowicz said with a laugh. “Who wants to leave a bar if they’re having fun?”
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at firstname.lastname@example.org)