Hometown Santaquin restaurant to be featured on the Travel Channel on Friday
by Spencer Healey
An ancient Indian curse. Angry spirits trapped for years where a family restaurant now stands.
Frequent paranormal activity witnessed by restaurant employees. A lady in blue. A ghost named Henry. Spirits of small children.
All these things are pieces of a paranormal puzzle that’s been revealing itself for years at a local restaurant.
A long history of ghost sightings and unexplained occurrences has put The Family Tree restaurant in Santaquin (now Leslie’s Family Tree) on Utah’s “Most Haunted” lists for years, and now the family-owned establishment is getting national attention for those unexplained paranormal phenomena.
This Friday the hometown restaurant will be featured on the Travel Channel’s newest ghost hunting series, “The Dead Files”. The episode, “Fear At The Family Tree”, will air for the first time at 8 p.m. and was filmed at various locations in Santaquin over a week of filming. The show chronicles the hauntings of the past few decades in the area where The Family Tree currently stands.
“We’ve been haunted for years,” says Leslie Broadhead, owner of the restaurant. “Neighbors around the place have seen things, we’ve seen things.”
In the 26 years that The Family Tree has been serving customers, Broadhead and her daughter Bobby Shaw say there have been countless reports of strange activity and ghost sightings. Shaw claims that as recently as this Monday she witnessed a paranormal occurrence.
“We’ve had pots fly off the shelves, knives moved on us,” she says. “I had a chair go up on top of a table. That was just this last Monday.”
Accounts like Shaw’s are what draw teams like the one from The Dead Files to Santaquin to investigate the unexplained events. The show is still in its first season and features a duo team of Amy Allan, a Physical Medium, and Steve DiSchiavi, a homicide detective, who do separate investigations on supernatural events and reveal the results of their investigations to those close to the phenomena – in this case Broadhead and Shaw.
“We’ve had a lot of ghost hunters come here over the last few years,” says Shaw. “Wasatch Paranormal has come here repeatedly.”
The ambiance and setting of the old-fashioned restaurant seems to lend itself to the ghost stories and the building’s interesting past adds another dimension to the “investigation”.
“There’s a bomb shelter down there and that’s where they did boxing and illegal gambling and stuff,” says Shaw. The building was also the location of a bar years ago.
Santaquin City also has a rich history of Indian culture and influence. The city’s name actually comes from a late 19th century Indian chief’s son whose name was Santaquin. According to Broadhead, that Indian history plays a dark role in the hauntings of The Family Tree.
“There was an Indian curse put on this land,” says Broadhead. “The ghosts here, that curse has affected them and that’s why they’re so mean.”
The ladies say their restaurant has been the site of many ghost hunting experiences and that a high level of electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) is always detected, suggesting that there is a high concentration of spirits there.
“They’re (the Indians who cursed the spot) collecting spirits, that’s why there’s so many here,” says Broadhead. “They’re collecting spirits and not letting them go.”
Although EVP has always been a debated form of detecting paranormal activity, the ladies at The Family Tree feel there is a direct correlation between the high EVP readings and their own personal experiences working at the restaurant.
“Every time the ghost hunters come here we get a lot of EVP,” says Shaw. “Like an enormous amount where it was almost unbelievable. Then the show came and (Amy Allan) told us there were over 60 spirits here.”
Specifically, the employees and other witnesses speak of The Lady in Blue, a ghost from the past century who allegedly haunts the building wearing an old blue nightgown.
“She’s here in her death state, so she’s one that haunts out front a lot,” says Shaw.
Shaw explained that The Lady in Blue was a past resident of a home that existed on the location and who was killed in a car accident. The nightgown donning ghost isn’t the only reported sighting by any means. Both ladies describe in detail their encounters with the spirits of small children and of one man who Allan claims is named Henry.
“We’ve always known that there were a lot of spirits here,” says Broadhead. “But we didn’t know exactly how many.”
She believes the spirits could also be staying at the restaurant because of the social aspect of the past institutions like the bar and the boxing ring.
“That’s what we’re thinking,” says Shaw. “That people were attached to the place.”
Whatever the reason or cause for the supernatural activity at the restaurant, the employees and patrons don’t seem to be too bothered. Even after seeing a battery-less clock’s hands go counter-clockwise for four hours and after having heard the voices of the spirits themselves, Broadhead says she’s not going to ever leave her beloved Family Tree.
“I’ve never actually been afraid, and I’ve seen some of them,” she says. “I get scared at the time because it’s not natural, but that’s it.”
“When it happens it is freaky, it makes you look over your shoulder more,” she says. “But you know that it’s never harmed us…it really hasn’t hurt any of us. So deep down I know it’s okay, but it’s still scary.”
Not scary enough, however, to stop her and her sister Cory Egan from giving ghost hunting tours around the building. The Family Tree hopes to capitalize on their unique situation by giving “ghost hunting dinner tours” for $20 a person. They hope certain types of ghost-curious customers would be interested in enjoying a nice dinner before going on a 2-3 hour ghost hunt with them.
Whether or not the ghost hunting dinner tours take off for The Family Tree, they’ll have to accept the supernatural image that their restaurant carries with it once The Dead Files airs their episode tomorrow. The ladies don’t think the paranormal stories will scare off patrons, but they do believe it adds an exciting dimension to the building.
“It gets a little creepy,” says Broadhead of working at the restaurant. “Sometimes it feels like someone’s watching you.”
Both Shaw and Broadhead say they don’t won’t go down to the basement anymore because of what they’ve experienced.
“There’s something there you can’t see,” says Shaw.
They also admit that ever since The Dead Files team came through, the paranormal activity seems to have increased.
“It’s getting stronger… a lot stronger lately,” says Shaw.
To the two women it only makes sense that the spirits would get more active after the visit from the Physical Medium.
“I think it’s to do with that show,” says Broadhead. “I think when the medium came…she told us that they (the spirits) met her right at the door and did not want her to come in.”
The episode airs:
Friday, May 4
8:00 p.m. MST (replay at 11:00 p.m.)
On the Travel Channel (check your local listings)