Just north of Houston is the community of Spring. Once a thriving hub of railroad traffic, Spring played host to those who rode the rails as well as those who laid them.

Today the little village is known as Old Town Spring and its oak lined streets are laced with quaint shops, tea rooms and themed venues featuring the best in live Texas style music.

After more than 100 years, Wunsche Bros. Cafe & Saloon, one of my favorite eateries in southeast Texas, still sits along side the railroad tracks in Spring serving up chicken fried steak, juicy burgers, sauerkraut balls and the coldest beer around. But the beer isn’t the only reason that Wunsche Bros. is known as the most "spirited" spot in town. It has more to do with the resident ghost that wanders the hard wood floors late at night after the music done and the two-steppers have headed home.

Wunsche Bros

Charlie, the resident specter of Wunsche Bros., is thought to be the ghost of Charlie Wunsche, son of the town’s founder. Along with his brothers Dell and Willie, Charlie built the two story Wunsche Bros. Hotel & Saloon in 1902 and apparently upon his death decided to never check out.

I was told that Charlie is more into pranks and mischief than anything else, by the cafe’s long-time manager Roxanne Allen. "We have never felt threatened by Charlie, just a little uneasy at times," she said. "You just feel like . . . someone’s watching you when you know that there is no one there."

Whenever remodeling or construction is being done on the old landmark you can count on Charlie making his presence known. Coffee machines will start and stop on their own, nozzles for the soft drink dispensers will mysteriously disappear only to reappear weeks later, unlocked doors will not open as if being held by someone on the other side, chairs rattle and move about, and strange shadows move along the old hallway upstairs. "Without a doubt, it definitely gets weird around here sometimes," Roxanne joked.

The only confirmed sighting of Charlie was by a former waitress named Ilona Langlinais around Halloween in 1984. Back then the upstairs was used to seat overflow from the busy downstairs dining room. Ilona was carrying a fresh pot of coffee down the infamous upstairs hallway when she noticed an older gentleman dressed in a dark suit and hat sitting alone at a table off to the side. She walked over to the man and asked, "would you like a cup of hot coffee?"

No sooner had she spoken than a chilling wind swept around her and the man seated at the table vanished before her eyes.

Roxanne thinks that she may have seen Charlie herself one night after closing. "Our whole staff believes that Charlie watches out for us," she said. "I had locked up late one night and was walking to my car parked in the dark behind the cafe, when I had this strong urge to look back over my shoulder at the building. That’s something that I never do. But, when I looked up at where the liquor room used to be on the second floor I saw a shadowy figure of a man staring out the window at me." Though not frightening the event was unnerving Roxanne said.

All of Wunsche Bros.’ staff have a special respect for Charlie. After all he did build the place more than 100 years ago, and they certainly don’t want to offend him.

"Charlie is friendly. He watches over us and that’s just how we want to keep it," Roxanne said with a grin.

mike

Michael Baxter is the Texas Travelin’ Man

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