Charlie is a frequent visitor to the Stone Cellar Brewpub in Appleton. But no one has ever seen him.
You see, Charlie isn't a customer, he's a ghost. Or at least that's how the story goes.
"He was here prior to us coming in," owner Steve Lonsway said of the brewpub located in the Between the Locks building on Olde Oneida Street. "The stories were going well before we took over."
Lonsway is not the first, of course, to think he's seen a ghost. Chad Lewis of Eau Claire was at the Neenah Public Library Sunday talking about ghostly sightings that he details in his book, "Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted Locations." The book details 100 such places in the Badger State.
The Stone Cellar isn't even on Lewis' list. Maybe it should be.
Lonsway said his first brush with Charlie was when he heard some unusual noises. Alone in the brewery, he heard a bucket dropping, and later, a piece of metal falling nearby, but he couldn't find anything that explained the sounds. Initially, he shrugged them off. But a short while later he came to believe there was something unique about his brewpub.
One night after closing, as Lonsway and his wife sat at the bar, they saw three empty pint glasses on top of the dishwasher move into the dishwasher by themselves. "They literally slid off into the dishwasher. Fell straight off, like somebody just took all three of them and set them down at the same time," he said.
"It was slow motion. If they would have slipped off and fell, they would have crashed down harder than they did."
After that, stories about Charlie, who was named by one of the morning kitchen crew, started coming out.
Head chef Brady Ahrens, who also had worked previously for Adler Brau, said he was skeptical at first of the rumors, but an incident in the bar made him a believer.
"I saw a pint glass, full, literally slide off the bar," Ahrens said. "There was another patron that saw it, too, along with another one of our bartenders. It literally fell and broke. I looked at the bartender, and I said, 'Charlie's got to be around.'"
General manager Gary Granger said he once had a curious experience while retrieving cases of beer from the back cooler.
"The light was turning on and off, and I'm like, 'Yeah, what-
ever Steve,' and I opened up the cooler door and there was nobody there," he said.
While some of the Between the Locks businesses haven't noticed anything unusual, Sunflower Spa owner Lacy Hardy said she believes they have a ghost of their own. An astrologer told her a ghost of a woman is active in her massage therapy room, where Hardy has witnessed objects moving on their own.
"I have this bamboo cane in my room, and it was by the
wall. I had a client in there, and all of a sudden it moved. It wasn't falling; it was like somebody was moving it. It moved about a foot," she said.
That same day, "Somebody had their glasses on my little tray where clients can put their jewelry, and they just got moved. I saw them being moved."
Hardy said the astrologer also told her the activity is a good energy, and she is not afraid of the ghost. "I was just like, 'Oh, that's our ghost moving' because I knew she was there."
In the brewpub, Lonsway said he doesn't think anyone's frightened by Charlie's antics.
"I don't think anyone's scared of him. My guess is everybody thinks it's kind of neat," he said. "We're in a dry spell right now, but when something happens, everybody hears about it, including the customers."
And customers seem to like Charlie. Some want Lonsway to brew something special in Charlie's honor. "They want me to name a beer after him and the whole nine yards," he said.
A haunted brewpub could be a good thing, he said.
"My father and I, more my father, have traveled in England quite a bit. And it's big to have a haunted pub over there. People go way out of their way to search out the haunted pub."