First-of-its-kind Haunted House Restaurant offers family-friendly frights
To further foster a fun atmosphere, there are a whole host of additional items that run throughout the week: on Tuesdays, a saxophonist walks around the venue, playing classic tunes, such as the “Ghostbusters” theme; on Wednesdays, it’s Cosplay Night, with The Haunted House actively encouraging you to come dressed up as your favorite character from any property. But the icing on the festive cake comes in the form of trivia, which runs every Wednesday through Saturday, from 4-10 pm — patrons can engage in a series of questions (such as, “What weapon did Jason perform his first kill with?”) or games (like “name that scary tune” or, even better, see who can sit on and be the first to pop a balloon-animal version of Pennywise the Dancing Clown). The rounds occur every 30-45 minutes, and the prizes include film posters, gift cards, or movie tickets.
If that last item makes it sound as if Scott and his business partners are in collaboration with Hollywood, that’s because they are. Since their opening a little over a month ago, the studios have reached out to The Haunted House Restaurant, looking to partner with them to help advertise to a ready-made fanbase — in addition to the trivia prizes, visitors can see the latest scary flicks being marketed in one form or another in the box office-esque waiting area (during our visit, we saw nods to “Candyman” and “The Night House”.
But the real star of the Haunted House Restaurant show, of course, is the food. Here again, we see the interplay between the light theming and the mainstream appeal; the menu, which consists of salads, burgers, pizza, and chicken, is your standard, for-the-whole-family affair (albeit one shepherded by Darnell “Superchef” Ferguson, an Ohio native who’s appeared on Bravo and The Food Network with the likes of Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri). However, while the items themselves are more-or-less routine, their names fit the spooky bill, with such entries as The Salad on Haunted Hill, Children of the Street Corn, Scooby Snacks, and Chucky Rolls, Southern soul rolls so named because “every time Chucky hits the ground, he rolls over somewhere,” as Scott explained to us. The horror overlay can also be memorably found in one particular dish: the Jaws seafood pizza, which is loaded with shrimp, salmon, and a lobster tail and which is presented to diners with the telltale music, sparklers, and a mini-American flag (and the “saxophone guy,” if he’s around that night).
We should also take a moment to note that Haunted House’s menu comes festooned with both vegan and gluten-free options, as well as a hearty spotlight on “brinner,” a combination of breakfast and dinner and a culinary sibling to brunch — something which Superchef Ferguson is well-known for. And there’s also the over-the-top Haunted Potion Bowls, which are a series of seven 51-ounce concoctions [either alcoholic or virgin] that include such dramatic touches as fog pouring over the side of their giant cups. Needless to say, it makes for quite the Instagram moment.