NAMPA, Idaho — Editor's Note: This story was originally published on Oct. 31, 2018.
Tucked in toward the end of 12th Avenue, Pete's Tavern has been a fixture of downtown Nampa since the 1940s. On any given day bartender Pam Bolieu takes care of some of the same customers that have been dropping by for decades. But there are those who have been coming here for a lot longer.
"You almost feel like you have friends around all the time, yeah," says Linda Barr, owner of Pete's Tavern.
Linda bought the place with her husband, Gary, in 1996. But she says the building was built more than a century before that and once housed a butcher shop, a Chinese laundry, and even a speakeasy during Prohibition. These days Pete's primary potable is beer.
So there may be a lack of spirits behind the bar but certainly not around it.
"Every once in a while something weird will happen," admits Pam Bolieu, a bartender who's worked here off-and-on for the past 15 years. "Somebody will get touched and they'll turn around and there's nobody there."
Names called out in an empty room. Ashtrays moving on their own. The television in the corner turning itself on and off.
Almost all the regulars have a Pete's Tavern tale to tell.
"It's like the fish stories, you know?" laughs Linda. "Every time you tell one it gets a little bigger, a little more interesting."
But in a bar, at night, the inexplicable isn't always inconceivable. Sometimes, though, even the morning after can leave little to the imagination.
Linda says one day her husband was in the back of the bar, in an area they call the Club, cleaning up after a party the night before.
"He was doing some sweeping and, you know, things like that and he turned around and there's this mylar balloon in front of his face," she remembers. "And he just kind of pushes it out of the way. And he's doing his thing and he looked up and there's this mylar balloon again."
Five more times Gary pushed the balloon away, only to have it return.
"He says it was almost like a magnet. He says, 'I turn around and it was like right here,'" Linda explains. "Yeah, I get a little creeped out, too."
Because when Linda looked for the balloon later it was gone.
"Never found that mylar balloon," she says.
Wayne Bull, a regular, remembers stopping in after his shift one night at the local paper.
"It's been 18 years ago," Wayne says. "Just before closing time, had some coffee."
That was when he caught the door to the Club out of the corner of his eye.
"And I seen the outline of a woman, a white smoky outline, woman in long dress, long hair," he recalls "And I asked the bartender, 'You see that?' And he looked over there and he said, 'Yeah.' And I said, 'That's not normal, there's nobody there, is there?' and he says, 'There shouldn't be.'"
Linda recounts another incident years ago when her husband and 3 friends, encouraged by liquid courage, decided to spend the night in the basement.
"The next morning they wake up and one of the guys is gone," she says.
They found him hunched over the bar refusing to return.
"He wouldn't say if anything scared him, or if he saw anything," Linda remembers. "He refused to even speak about it. So nobody knows what he saw or heard."
Paranormal professionals claim at least four distinct entities call the tavern their territory, from a grumpy old man to a shy young woman. None of whom seem to bother business.
"I'm used to having odd things happen," admits Wayne.
"It's Pete's Tavern," laughs Linda. "Come on down and mingle with the spirits."
Linda says psychics have said Pete's Tavern is filled with Chinese spirits because the building's basement was once part of the underground tunnels in downtown Nampa that were frequented by Chinese immigrants. She says she was told those spirits are just "keeping an eye on the place" and as long as she doesn't make major changes to the building there won't be any problems.
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