Unexpected hosts in two chic downtown locations
“See that hole?” Chef Jacob Hilbert points over his head. “It comes from a soufflé cup. Crème brûlée was in it. One afternoon, it just flew up to the ceiling.”
The kitchen entrance of the Hollow Brasserie sports a deep, smooth, bowl-shaped cavity. “People who have been here a long time . . . they’ve all had some sort of experience.”
A March 2016 Austin American-Statesman review pronounces the Hollow’s cuisine an “unexpected pleasure,” but as amazing aromas fill the kitchen, restaurant staff paint another picture of the unexpected. Soon after Chef Jacob opened the Hollow, he says, “Little things would happen, like a stove burner was on when you thought it was off.”
At first, Jacob volunteers, these oddities were easy for him to dismiss. But then, “glasses would break with nobody around the area,” says server Juan Flores. “Particularly at Table 15,” Jacob adds, pointing toward the front window.
“A fork would slide down the stair rail.” Juan indicates the restaurant’s south wall. “But no one was there to slide it down.” A curved staircase ascends that wall to an urban-chic loft lounge. It is easy to imagine a fork sliding down the banister.
It was in the same lounge that an entire table once turned itself over.
But the Hollow’s mysterious happenings escalated too quickly for Chef Jacob’s comfort. Soon, he reports, objects in the kitchen started flying around on their own. His voice grows serious. “It screws with your sense of reality.”
The chef finally took action after something cut him. In his kitchen one day, Jacob began to bleed, as if “someone dragged a butter knife across my skin,” he says. “It started to burn. Then there was blood.” After that, he invited three paranormal advisors to visit the Hollow independently. All claimed to sense three spirits: a nurturer, a child, and a “dark presence.”
But Chef Jacob hasn’t heard much from his strange roommates lately. “Nothing has happened in a long time,” says the chef, “almost a year.” That suits him fine. “Ice cream?” He hands over a taster spoon. The frozen treat explodes with flavor like a three-second summer holiday. “Butter pecan,” he grins. The Hollow has more to offer than ghosts.
But the Hollow may not be Georgetown’s only haunted hangout. Georgetown Art Center administrator Lindsey Jones gestures to the top floor of the former city hall and fire station. “A couple of the artists who work upstairs have heard things,” she reports.
Given its varied history, the building almost speaks for itself. “This was the city jail,” Lindsey says as she stands in a conference room, arranging a punch bowl on a table. The wall behind her is covered with inmates’ handwritten names and dates, “one from 1916, and there’s one back there from the late 1800s.”
Lindsey and her artists have experienced plenty of bumps in the night. “Things fall,” she says, but no one is there. “We look, and something will just be in the middle of the floor.”
Lindsey shares a more recent tale. On May 27th, a Courageous Conversations meeting at the center was interrupted by crashing noises. Lindsey ascended the stairs, thinking she was going to quiet down a painter. When she arrived, no one was there.