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The haunted steakhouse and taller Oceanside tales

Capone, Shatner, and Gilligan linked to local lore

Oceanside's old Buena Vista Cemetery was right next to Buena Vista Lagoon (bottom)...and Hunter Steakhouse
Oceanside's old Buena Vista Cemetery was right next to Buena Vista Lagoon (bottom)...and Hunter Steakhouse

There are several stories that have been circulating around Oceanside for decades. Unfortunately, it's now been revealed that most are not true. Yet, there is that one about the Hunter Steakhouse being haunted... That one may be true.

Kristi Hawthorne, vice president of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, set out to investigate seven well-known stories from her town’s past. She was able to prove six as not true — urban legends or myths that never happened.

Hunter Steakhouse’s haunted story may be one of the true ones, if you believe in spooky stuff. When I-5 was built in the early 1960s, the city’s very old Buena Vista Cemetery, overlooking the lagoon, was rediscovered. The cemetery, used between 1888 and 1916, had an estimated 50 bodies buried there.

“In January of 1970, 17 bodies were disinterred and removed to the El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley,” reports Hawthorne. Family members also removed some remains. “That left several remains behind.”

The property’s developer uncovered more remains — and reportedly covered them up, literally and figuratively, so as not to slow down construction. In 1991, with the environmental requirements that followed the permanent closure of the Gulf service station also built on the property, the oil company found five additional skeletons.

The website paranormalistics/blogspot.com reports, “Often workers will hear their names being called, although they are alone in the building. The alarm system goes off for no reason, lights flicker, and chandeliers shake. Female workers sometimes feel their skin or hair being stroked.”

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Some city historians believe the site was also an ancient Indian burial grounds. According to the website, a longtime bartender, Kyle Gaines, used to hunt arrowheads on the site as a kid.

A few years ago, I knew a manager at the restaurant. She refused to go down to the basement alone, having felt the creepiness before.

Little did the restaurant know when it opened in 1971, that its former signage, advertising “Food, Wine, & Spirits” would come to mean more than just adult beverages. The restaurant, originally known as Hungry Hunter, makes light of its infamous history, with a plaque placed that recognizes the former cemetery site.

But what about the other six legends? Such as the old Oceanside Pier having once been a mile long before being destroyed by a winter storm? “Exaggerated,” says Hawthorne. She points out that at 5280 feet, “Think about it. That would have go out in ocean forever.” Both the old pier, destroyed in the mid-80s, and the rebuilt one, are just less than 2000 feet long.

Another Pier Myth: Names carved on the Oceanside Pier helped to rebuild the pier? “Not true,” reports Hawthorne. In 1988, to celebrate the city’s centennial, and to help fund a float entry in the Rose Parade, residents could have their name carved on the pier’s wooden railings for $25 each. The 1987 rebuilt pier was fully funded by state and federal agencies.

Story: The opening sequence of Gilligan’s Island was filmed at Oceanside Harbor? Nope. While Oceanside’s harbor looks like a typical small-craft harbor, the home of the S.S. Minnow was actually two locations: Marina Del Rey and Honolulu.

Story: Al Capone tried to buy Rancho Santa Margarita (now Camp Pendleton)? “Maybe,” says Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s research uncovered that a writer in Hollywood started the rumor in 1931. L.A. newspapers picked up. It caused quite a local stir when the San Diego Union repeated it. “The manager of the rancho repeatedly refuted the claim,” says Hawthorne, speculating that if Capone was interested, he may have made an offer that was flatly refused.

Story: William Shatner owns a home on South Pacific Street? The home at 1127 S. Pacific Street has the initials “W” and “S” carved into the door, thus the probable source of the rumor. “The home was once owned by a local contractor, William Silbergerger, not the captain of the Starship Enterprise,” says Hawthorne.

Story: Buccaneer Beach was named for buried pirate treasure on a sunken ship? Around 1940, a local archaeologist claimed a Spanish ship, the Trinidad, sailed up the San Luis Rey River and later sank off the Oceanside coast. The captain, Francisco de Ulloa, along with his millions of dollars in gold, was buried in the city’s eastern hills.

“Ulloa and his crew were explorers, not pirates,” says Hawthorne. “Records reveal that Ulloa sailed back to Mexico and even to Spain. He was never shipwrecked in Oceanside.”

“I moved here in ’83, and I heard the Gilligan’s Island, William Shatner, and the sunken-ship stories back then, “ said Hawthorne. Yet with all the evidence and research done, she knows that the stories will continue.

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Oceanside's old Buena Vista Cemetery was right next to Buena Vista Lagoon (bottom)...and Hunter Steakhouse
Oceanside's old Buena Vista Cemetery was right next to Buena Vista Lagoon (bottom)...and Hunter Steakhouse

There are several stories that have been circulating around Oceanside for decades. Unfortunately, it's now been revealed that most are not true. Yet, there is that one about the Hunter Steakhouse being haunted... That one may be true.

Kristi Hawthorne, vice president of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, set out to investigate seven well-known stories from her town’s past. She was able to prove six as not true — urban legends or myths that never happened.

Hunter Steakhouse’s haunted story may be one of the true ones, if you believe in spooky stuff. When I-5 was built in the early 1960s, the city’s very old Buena Vista Cemetery, overlooking the lagoon, was rediscovered. The cemetery, used between 1888 and 1916, had an estimated 50 bodies buried there.

“In January of 1970, 17 bodies were disinterred and removed to the El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley,” reports Hawthorne. Family members also removed some remains. “That left several remains behind.”

The property’s developer uncovered more remains — and reportedly covered them up, literally and figuratively, so as not to slow down construction. In 1991, with the environmental requirements that followed the permanent closure of the Gulf service station also built on the property, the oil company found five additional skeletons.

The website paranormalistics/blogspot.com reports, “Often workers will hear their names being called, although they are alone in the building. The alarm system goes off for no reason, lights flicker, and chandeliers shake. Female workers sometimes feel their skin or hair being stroked.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Some city historians believe the site was also an ancient Indian burial grounds. According to the website, a longtime bartender, Kyle Gaines, used to hunt arrowheads on the site as a kid.

A few years ago, I knew a manager at the restaurant. She refused to go down to the basement alone, having felt the creepiness before.

Little did the restaurant know when it opened in 1971, that its former signage, advertising “Food, Wine, & Spirits” would come to mean more than just adult beverages. The restaurant, originally known as Hungry Hunter, makes light of its infamous history, with a plaque placed that recognizes the former cemetery site.

But what about the other six legends? Such as the old Oceanside Pier having once been a mile long before being destroyed by a winter storm? “Exaggerated,” says Hawthorne. She points out that at 5280 feet, “Think about it. That would have go out in ocean forever.” Both the old pier, destroyed in the mid-80s, and the rebuilt one, are just less than 2000 feet long.

Another Pier Myth: Names carved on the Oceanside Pier helped to rebuild the pier? “Not true,” reports Hawthorne. In 1988, to celebrate the city’s centennial, and to help fund a float entry in the Rose Parade, residents could have their name carved on the pier’s wooden railings for $25 each. The 1987 rebuilt pier was fully funded by state and federal agencies.

Story: The opening sequence of Gilligan’s Island was filmed at Oceanside Harbor? Nope. While Oceanside’s harbor looks like a typical small-craft harbor, the home of the S.S. Minnow was actually two locations: Marina Del Rey and Honolulu.

Story: Al Capone tried to buy Rancho Santa Margarita (now Camp Pendleton)? “Maybe,” says Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s research uncovered that a writer in Hollywood started the rumor in 1931. L.A. newspapers picked up. It caused quite a local stir when the San Diego Union repeated it. “The manager of the rancho repeatedly refuted the claim,” says Hawthorne, speculating that if Capone was interested, he may have made an offer that was flatly refused.

Story: William Shatner owns a home on South Pacific Street? The home at 1127 S. Pacific Street has the initials “W” and “S” carved into the door, thus the probable source of the rumor. “The home was once owned by a local contractor, William Silbergerger, not the captain of the Starship Enterprise,” says Hawthorne.

Story: Buccaneer Beach was named for buried pirate treasure on a sunken ship? Around 1940, a local archaeologist claimed a Spanish ship, the Trinidad, sailed up the San Luis Rey River and later sank off the Oceanside coast. The captain, Francisco de Ulloa, along with his millions of dollars in gold, was buried in the city’s eastern hills.

“Ulloa and his crew were explorers, not pirates,” says Hawthorne. “Records reveal that Ulloa sailed back to Mexico and even to Spain. He was never shipwrecked in Oceanside.”

“I moved here in ’83, and I heard the Gilligan’s Island, William Shatner, and the sunken-ship stories back then, “ said Hawthorne. Yet with all the evidence and research done, she knows that the stories will continue.

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Comments

Uh, Ken, it was called the "Hungry Hunter." Foodmaker, Inc., aka Jack in the Box, was trying to go upscale in 1970, and wanted to have some some sit-down restaurants of various types to round out its offerings. So, the Hungry Hunter was their steakhouse offering, and has actually lasted, although few remain, and none are affiliated with JIB.

As far as the operation being haunted, I'd say that that 1970-era, dark stained wood hunt lodge decor needs some serious updating. That's what "haunts" the place. Now, don't get me wrong. We've been going there, off and on, for over thirty years, and while it isn't our dining-out destination of choice, we dine there a couple times a year. The steaks are good, and the at-the-table "salad bar" is unique. But if the ownership would make it a bit brighter and not so gloomy, I'd go more often.

Aug. 18, 2016

I'm surprised the dark Red Fox Restaurant (at the Lafayette Hotel) isn't haunted by the ghost of Marion Davies, since the Olde English pub interior was once part of her huge beach mansion (paid for by William Randolph Hearst).

Aug. 18, 2016

How do you know its not haunted? If those walls could talk . . .

Aug. 19, 2016

And if only the walls at the Hearst Castle could talk!

Aug. 19, 2016

Yes it is was Hungry Hunter. Reported my error, should be fixed soon.

Aug. 19, 2016

Red Fox is one of my favorite San Diego restaurants. Best blue cheese salad dressing in the world. You can buy to go also.

Interesting article Ken.

Aug. 18, 2016

Thanks for reading The Reader! Have to try the Red Fox.

Aug. 19, 2016

Hey dwbat, Red Fox was on my rounds with ASCAP. That same blonde lady must have played the piano for 4 decades! Its one of a kind. I will stop there soon. Must!

Aug. 20, 2016

Yes, these stories will continue, and more may be added in time. But, heck, there has to be something to make Oceanside interesting! So why not tales of ghosts, gangsters, actors, and booty (of various types?)

Aug. 19, 2016

My favorite is blue cheese too but not ghostly blue.

Aug. 19, 2016

I'm just NOT a fan of cheese made with Penicillium mold.

Aug. 20, 2016

I have to admit I was involved in spreading both the pier railing story for friends from out of town. When my son read the story, he said, "Its not true? You always tell that story to everyone."

Aug. 20, 2016
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