Sarah Schuerman said it would happen when she was alone in the kitchen.
“When you are all alone you get tapped on the shoulder, but no on is there,” she told me recently at Chances restaurant and bar in Rochester, Wis.
“One time I was working the meat slicer and almost cut my finger,” she continued, when the tap on her shoulder came as if in warning, she said.
Chances, built in 1843 is haunted, so say its past and present owners and family members.
Located about 45 minutes away in Racine County, it is tucked into a quaint community with a few small shops like Finder’s Keepers in the small downtown area.
I first read about the place earlier in the week in a book called “Haunted Wisconsin” Third Edition by Michael Norman.
And so, curious, I asked work colleague/cousin Jody if she’d like to venture over to Chances for lunch.
Always game for an interesting day trip, Jody agreed and we set out on our quest for some tales of the supernatural.
We enjoyed a tasty lunch and then proceeded into the bar area where several patrons were seated.
That’s when things got interesting.
The restaurant has been owned by the Schuerman family for about 25 years, said Sarah, who was about two years old when her parents bought it. She grew up in and around the place and worked in the kitchen during her high school years. She still helps out on the weekends, she said.
On this day, she was enjoying lunch at the bar and was among several people who had stories to tell of spiritual encounters or happenings at the historic site, built before the Civil War. There reportedly also is an underground railroad entrance for run-away slaves in the basement, but that has been closed off we were told.
Still, the spirit who haunts the kitchen is said to be a black woman, perhaps a runaway slave who also inhabited the basement area and came upstairs to cook, we were told.
According to the book and according to the people we talked to, there are seven ghosts in the place.
Jody and I did not see or feel anything unusual on our visit, but when we went upstairs to the supply room, where unexplained sounds or actions also have occurred, Jody’s cell phone did ping twice. No one was trying to text or call her and the battery was not low, nor was it in an out-of-area range.
Perhaps the steel reinforcement in the floor caused the pings, but then who knows for sure?
But back to Sarah and her family’s experiences.
One of the ghosts or spirits is a Civil War soldier.
“My sister saw him walk from the dining room to the bar and then disappear,” Sarah said.
There’s also children, a set of twins who play tricks on people, she said.
“They like to hide things,” among the items they apparently like to hide are Sarah’s dad’s keys.
“He’s a creature of habit, he always puts his keys in the same place when he walks in.”
But some nights the keys will be mysteriously missing and then her father ends up walking home. The next morning, however, the keys will be right where they should be, she said.
And yes, ghost hunters and psychics have visited Chances.
They have told the family the ghosts like them.
Once when Sarah was leaving the building with her daughter, who was about 5 at the time, her daughter told her: “Those ghosts at Chances don’t look anything like Casper, but they’re friendly.”
Previously, the Fischbach family owned the place.
Walter Fischbach lived on the site for years. Sometimes, he would hear someone walking around the dance floor and hear the door open and close, he said, yet no one would be there.
Bartender Judy Hegemann has worked at Chances for eight years.
Although she has never seen any spirits floating by, “I feel something — they like to play with me. They like to hide things on me,” she said.
Customers have told her they have felt being touched or tapped on the shoulder in the back dining room.
Jody and I found it all very interesting and unexplainable, which is why it intrigued us in the first place.
Whether it is truth or fiction or the results of overactive imaginations, it seems plausible only because so many people have reported so many occurrences, if nothing else.
Perhaps you’d like to test your own mettle on the subject; don’t take our word for it. (We only told you about some of the stories; there are more).
To get to Chances, take Interstate 43 for about 33 miles, then take exit No. 33 to Bowers Road for a very short distance. Then turn left and head east on Country Road D for 11.5 miles. You will drive right into Rochester. The restaurant is located at 205 W. Main St.