Steamboat ghost stories: The mischievous ghost of the Steamboat Smokehouse building
October 31, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — While the mischievous ghost has been seen by the owners of Steamboat Smokehouse and the former owners of Ciao Gelato, the barbecue barons noticed her first.
"We run into her sometimes at night, especially when the lights are out," says co-owner Kyle Love. "She'll do things like turn lights and fans off. Sometimes she'll even whisper to me in the back area."
The ghost is known as "Louise," and she's often seen with a girl in tow, presumably her daughter. At first Love's crew thought the ghost had followed their former partner Hazen Kreis, who had a ghost experience back home when he was 10 years old (previous Smokehouse owner Fritz Aurin, who sold the business in 2014, never saw it).
But it's still there, even after Kreis sold his shares.
"She's purposefully stayed around," Love says.
In a way, they're thankful — especially after one of their first encounters. Shortly after re-opening the restaurant, Kreis was about to plug the wrong smoker cords into the wrong outlets when the kitchen's electric bug zapper started buzzing.
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He stopped what he was doing, avoiding a near-electrocution. "She saved his life," says Love.
The good news, adds Ciao Gelato former co-owner Lynne Romeo, who re-opened the restaurant in the building in 2015, is that Louise is friendly.
"The Smokehouse owners said the only condition for us moving in is that we aren't afraid of ghosts," she says. "I laughed it off right away."
But shortly after opening their doors, mysterious things began to happen. Lynne's husband, Massimo, was making gelato at 1 a.m. when he heard footsteps on the stairs to the office; he called out, but the hallway was dark, and the office door locked.
Lynne adds that Louise looks like she's in her 40s, from around the late 1800s, with long brown hair and the white dress of a Western pioneer.
"She likes to play pranks, especially on men," Lynne says. "Very few women have seen her."
The closest Lynne has come is seeing the ghost is a puff of "white smoke" in the bathroom. Another time, while opening the shop, Lynne heard someone walk by the kitchen and say, "Good morning, Lynne," but no one was there.
Massimo has seen her late at night, when the building is locked.
"But she moves quickly, so I never get a full glimpse," he says. "It's just a quick flash."
"People only see her for a second or two and then she just sort of … dissipates," Lynne adds. "By the time your mind registers what you're seeing, she's gone."
There are other stories, too: of blown pilot lights, footsteps, and one time, even the shape of a heart cut into a roll of plastic trash bags. Lynne and Massimo always look for explanations but usually end up at the same conclusion: it was Louise.
In another story, Lynne went to retrieve some soap from the back storage room.
"I knew exactly where it was; there was only one container of it in the cabinet," she says. " I was going to grab it and leave so I didn't even turn on the light."
But when she opened the cabinet it had been re-stocked, with more items than she remembered.
"I tried to feel around for the soap and couldn't find it. Then I heard the switch flick and the light went on. I knew it was Louise — I said 'Oh thanks, Lousie!' She was giving me a hand."
Lynne and Massimo, who sold Ciao Gelato to Love last winter, hope Louise sticks around. But Massimo admits "her appearances get quieter in the winter."
Nevertheless, they always enjoyed the company.
"It's fun," Lynne says. "It's like having a friend there. And it's a good feeling to know someone's looking after you. It makes you realize there are things in the world you can't explain."
For more Steamboat ghost stories, pick up a free copy of Steamboat Living magazine at the annual Best of the Boat celebration, Thursday, Nov. 9 at The Steamboat Grand or look for a copy inserted in Steamboat Today on Saturday, Nov. 11.