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For the most comprehensive discussion of the investigation of the haunting of
the Moss Beach Distillery, pick up Loyd Auerbach's latest book
A PARANORMAL CASEBOOK: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium
from Atriad Press (published October 2005).  Visit the Products page for more
information and ordering -- or get the book at most major bookstores or
online booksellers!

Loyd Auerbach has been investigating the Blue Lady at the Moss Beach Distillery since 1991. Since then, he has conducted several investigative visits – along with renowned psychic Annette Martin – and has continually monitored the ghostly goings-on at the restaurant.

His first investigation in 1991 was in cooperation with a Japanese TV company, and involved psychic Mrs. Aiko Gibo of Yokohama.  Mrs. Gibo not only had lengthy conversations with the ghost, she also encouraged the ghost to open an outside door for the TV cameras.  Her conversations yielded information about the Blue Lady – known as such for the blue dresses she was consistently “seen” wearing – that was also picked up by a number of psychics working with Auerbach’s Office of Paranormal Investigations. 

In the mid-1990s, Auerbach brought in renowned psychic Annette Martin as the primary psychic on his team.  Martin and Auerbach have made a numerous visits to the Distillery, each time adding something to their bank of knowledge about the reported phenomena and the ghost herself.  Annette has become the primary psychic when it comes to the continuing investigation of the restaurant.  In addition, in 2004, psychic Neva Turnock began working with Loyd there as well, and has turned out to also have an incredible connection with the Blue Lady, much as Martin does.

While other psychics Auerbach worked with picked up her name as “Elizabeth” or “Elizabeth Claire,” it was Annette who has received the most information about the woman we now call “Cayte,” with Neva confirming and adding even further information. Her real name, according to the Blue Lady herself, was Elizabeth Claire Donovan.  She came to the Bay Area from the mid-west with her husband, but left him in San Francisco as he beat her often.  She came to become romantically entangled with the piano player of Frank Torres’s original restaurant, and ended up dead as a result of that affair.  Based on accounts from locals and via a local historian, and from what Annette (and other psychics) received from the ghost, she was killed by her enraged husband, who finally had tracked her down and learned of the affair.

Cayte is a name received along with her real one by Annette and other psychics.  During a two night investigation in 1999, in an extended conversation with the Blue Lady, it was revealed that she preferred “Cayte” (and that spelling).  Through Annette she said “I’m dead, and I can be called anything I like.  I like the name ‘Cayte.’”

It was during that session that we were told of a major raid on the bootleggers on the beach. So far, no record of this has been found, so one would imagine that perhaps Annette – or Cayte herself – made this up.  In a strange twist, one of our key witnesses to the ghostly sightings on the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier Museum in Alameda confirmed the raid – with a very close description – based on what he’d been told by his father, a man who was an attorney for the State of California and in on the raid himself.

We’ve witnessed a number of physical events at the Distillery, including lamps swinging (no, not the ones that have been set up for recreations) and glassware moving.  Our instruments have picked up highly unusual and anomalous magnetic fields and temperature variations while Annette was conversing with the Blue Lady.  Loyd Auerbach experienced the ghost “walking through” him several times during the 1999 investigation.  Annette Martin has had subsequent, more lengthy conversations with Cayte since the 1999 visits. (Loyd and Annette are considering making the transcripts of the conversation sessions available, if people are interested – email them about this!).  The visits made with Neva have led to some other interesting bits of information and even to Loyd having his first auditory experience with a ghost.

On unusual factor in the case since Auerbach’s initial visits is that Cayte is most often seen in more modern, black cocktail dresses these days.  There seemed to be no real reason from her change away from her traditional blue garb until Auerbach recently reviewed the 1991 program that aired on Japanese TV.  He’d completely forgotten that in her conversation with the Blue Lady, Mrs. Gibo is seen on camera flipping through some American fashion magazines, apparently updating Cayte on what she should be wearing!

Most importantly, it’s clear that Cayte is quite happy at the Distillery, and enjoys the atmosphere and the people. She even enjoys the recreations that are running – although she sometimes interferes with them.  She does miss frequent direct contact with people, so make sure you say “hello” to her next time you visit – even if only in your own mind.


This is just one of many experiences we have taken
from different people that happened to be at the
Moss Beach Distillery at the "right" time.


THE MOSS BEACH DISTILLERY is a very unique building with a very unique history to go along with it. It was a secret rendezvous, a hideaway for many, and a place to have a good time and drink for many more. It's tragedies and secrets can be felt by many people who enter. Even voices of the past have been heard, whispering and laughing late at night. It is said by many employees, that after spending a lot of time day after day working inside, they start feeling strange. It's like entering into another world, a world all its own…

The following have been gathered by employees over the past few years. Some of these people still work at the restaurant, most have moved on to other employment.

BYRON WHIPP & PATTY MCKELLER These two have been witness to things flying through the air. One particular experience was particularly exciting for them.

It was a busy Saturday night for the restaurant. Later in the evening, when the customers had gone and the doors had been closed, Patty and Byron were upstairs doing their close-out accounting. They were both standing in the wait station just at the top of the steep stairway (now where the elevator is). Their minds were intent on check-outs, adding and sorting through their paperwork.

Suddenly, a stack of credit card books, in which customers receive their dinner tabs, flew straight out from the shelf they had been sitting on. They flew mid-air into the center of the wait station, and then simply dropped to the floor!

How could they just fly out, stop in mid air, and then just fall?

They both looked at each other in disbelief. They put the books back on the shelf and attempted to recreate the effect themselves by knocking them off in different ways. No matter how they did it, the books always fell off at a downward angle, never straight out.

It seemed as though someone (or something?) had grabbed the books, pulled them off the shelf and let them drop to the floor...


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For more information about the Moss Beach Distillery Restaurant, a place for Good Food and Good Spirits, just 30 minutes south of San Francisco, call (650) 728-5595 or visit their website

...more individual reports to come, this part of The Paranormal Network still undergoing some construction.  In the meantime, here's a compilation of Loyd Auerbach's reports on the restaurant and its ghost:


Loyd Auerbach

 The lonely restaurant sits on the hill above the northern California beach. From time to time fog and mists swirl around it and the homes that are on either side. Tourists and locals alike come for the excellent food and the magnificent Pacific Ocean view. Or they come for the ghost.

For the Moss Beach Distillery is never empty as long as the spirit called "the Blue Lady" roams its interior and the beach below… the beach where she was murdered.

Over the last seven decades, there have been reports of an apparition in a torn and bloody blue dress in and around the restaurant --- though sometimes, with appropriate fashion consciousness, her clothing is clean and intact. Her apparition has been seen in several places in the restaurant, including in and about the ladies room, in the main dining area, the kitchen and even, it is said, on the bluff opposite the main dining area.

Patrons, visitors and employees have reported a range of perceptions connected to the spirit, including sensations that she’s touching them, simple feelings of a "presence" and often the sounds of her voice (sometimes calling the names of the employees). Unexplained object movements have been witnessed over the last 30 years or so.

I first got involved in this case in 1991 when I was looking for places that might be open to a long-term study of ghosts. The owner of the Distillery, John Barbour, was quite interested, provided we would be free to talk about what we uncovered. In other words, he wanted to make sure the word got out about the ghost in order to draw even more people to the restaurant. I agreed, and since that time I have gotten to know the place --- and the ghost --- quite well.

The restaurant now known as the Moss Beach Distillery is located in the small town of Moss Beach, just north of better known Half Moon Bay and less than a half hour drive south of San Francisco. The Distillery was originally built in the late 1920s by restauranteur Frank Torres and hosted a number of celebrities from both politics and film. It was then known as Frank’s Roadhouse, and the establishment’s property also contained a small hotel for special guests.

It apparently became even more popular during the alcohol-free era of the United States known as Prohibition, as it was a focal point for liquor smuggling and a "protected" speakeasy where anyone who was anyone could still drink to their hearts’ content. Interestingly, the local history says that there were never any raids on the place, yet a recently uncovered witness to the ghost stated that his father, an attorney for the State of California, was involved in several raids and shoot-outs.

Actual historical records and death certificates of the time in the area are sketchy, even when they still exist. Apparently, because of the illegal alcohol traffic and surrounding activities, the raids, problems with the law, and any killings were covered up. Many death certificates were either destroyed or lost, and few were willing to ask questions. This has created a problem in any research around the ghost.

While there have been two other possible deaths connected to the identity of the Blue Lady, only one seems to fit the time frame of the first sightings, as well as the perceptions of a variety of psychics who have visited more recently. The other deaths were much more mundane, and while it may be the ghost herself who’s promoting the more romanticized tale, it does seem to fit.

During the early 1930s, a piano player at the restaurant was graced with the presence of a beautiful young woman night after night. It is said that the two had an ongoing affair. Unfortunately, the young woman, who is said to have worked in the hotel that once stood where the parking lot is now, was married --- though supposedly separated from a husband who mistreated her.

One night the husband showed up in the bar. A fight ensued between the two men, which eventually moved outside the place, and supposedly onto the beach. Just what happened is not recorded anywhere, but the beautiful young woman, dressed that evening in a long blue dress, was found the next morning on the beach. She had been stabbed to death.

Of the husband, there was never any sign. The piano player (who may have had family ties to the owner, Frank Torres), was apparently bruised, but alive and playing the piano the next night.

The woman in blue was dead, her husband gone, her lover still tickling the ivories night after night. It was your basic lover’s tragedy, ripe for a haunting. And of course, that’s exactly what happened.

From what we have been able to determine, from the time of her death to sometime around 20 or so years ago, there were frequent sightings of her blue-clad figure. For some reason, the sightings began to taper off, but at the same time, physical displays of her presence began to increase. Perhaps she learned how to use her consciousness to affect the physical world and found that either easier or more attention-getting than being seen (I suspect the latter).

So, while a few visitors (those who are not professional psychics) have sighted her, most of what happens at the Distillery today takes the form of moving objects and subjective "feelings" of a presence. In one particular spot in the main dining area, patrons regularly ask employees about the table where they’re sitting, as they feel a presence or something strange, and people who didn’t know the "legend" of the place routinely have asked if the restaurant is "haunted."

As to movements of objects, there seems to be little pattern to the events, but they all take place with people available to witness them.

One of the kitchen help reported being hit on the rear end while alone in the kitchen. A similar experience has been reported by several workmen over the years.

The locked electronic thermostat has gone haywire, against all programming and tampering.

One employee told me about a chair moving. The chair, made of fairly light wood, sat in the entryway near the hostess station. The waitress told me that she, the hostess, and another waitress watched as the chair fell over by itself one night. That in itself wouldn’t be too farfetched, but then, before they could right the chair, it did a somersault. That, they thought, was the Blue Lady!

My own first encounter with the restaurant in 1991, as well as subsequent visits, yielded some interesting events. That first visit, an overnight with the purpose of filming part of a television show for Japanese TV, involved several members of my group, the Office of Paranormal Investigations, as well as the Japanese TV crew and famed Japanese psychic Mrs. Aiko Gibo. She was able to sense things about the restaurant that went beyond the scope of the information presented to her or to the crew.

At that time, a new dining room was being added to the place. While Mrs. Gibo did not sense anything in particular in that room at first, it was there that the first events happened.

The exit door, with a push bar on the inside and no handle outside, popped open by itself. I personally closed the door, and checked that it was locked tight. A few minutes later, Mrs. Gibo pointed to the door as she said the Blue Lady was coming in. The door opened, slowly this time.

It was windy that night, but I was positive I had closed the door tightly. Also, it was well after hours there, and a TV crewman was outside the restaurant. No one with a key came anywhere near the outside of the door.

Mrs. Gibo spent some time in the main room speaking with the ghost. From our perspective, it was a rather one-sided conversation. She also described the woman in similar ways as the other witnesses, except that the apparition was wearing a black evening gown. Mrs. Gibo said the Blue Lady "wanted to look her best" for us, even though no one besides Mrs. Gibo saw her.

The Blue Lady’s black evening gown featured prominently in another situation I was involved in later that year when I and mentalist Larry Loebig did our first session of our Seance Fiction Theater show at the restaurant. (Note: besides being a parapsychologist, I am a professional mentalist and psychic entertainer).

During the intermission, three women came up to me separately. One was a professional psychic, one was a local resident who had seen the ghost several times before, and the third was someone who claimed to have had no psychic experiences in her life.

All three separately described the same female figure standing next to me during the show, apparently intent on watching what I was doing. All three described her with the same hairstyle and dressed in a black evening gown similar to the one reported by Mrs. Gibo (said observation not mentioned to the audience --- as far as everyone knew, the ghost always appeared in a blue dress).

Later, when one of my effects didn’t come off (a fact unknown to the audience, since they didn’t know what or what not to expect), one of the women told me that the ghost was smiling, and perhaps even giggling a bit during that particular effect.

During another session of Seance Fiction Theater, a magnetic effect, utilizing a powerful bar magnet, didn’t work. Actually, for about a minute, the bar magnet was demagnetized. But then, suddenly, it worked again. This was followed immediately by a weird happening surrounding a plasma ball (also known as a lightning ball) which we had as a bit of window-dressing. An audience member pointed to it and we could all see what looked like the outline of a hand drawing the "lightning" to it, even though the closest person to the device was at least six feet away.

I have returned often to the Distillery for both more television shows and on my own for data gathering. The television "shoots" have actually provided good opportunities for the Blue Lady to show off. Even though I hadn’t seen or felt the presence of the Blue Lady up to that point, I was hooked on the case, and have continued to monitor it.

During one television related visit in 1997, while production the crew was ensconced in one of the dining rooms interviewing a witness to events caused by the Blue Lady (the ghost), the manager noticed a tiffany lamp over the hostess desk begin to swing… and swing … and swing. She called me over, and I brought my other team members (including psychic Annette Martin) and we watched as it continued to swing for quite a while (with Annette sensing a presence and my magnetometer --- a tool that measures magnetic fields --- reading higher in that spot that it did before, or later).

The producer, when she came out of the dining room, was naturally not happy about that turn of events.

Recent recent ghost-related events include:

** "a rapid, random ringing of each of the 7 phone lines, including the pay phone, one line at a time" (this was a frequent occurrence before the remodeling, and the phones have been checked again and again, without an explanation found)

** a wine glass, hanging upside down on a glasses rack above the waiters’ station, flew off the rack next to a waiter’s head, bounced off some shelving, and landed on the carpeted floor, without breaking. This was also witnessed by a second waiter.

** 2 of the beer cooler cabinets, which require a key to lock, were locked on their own while the day bartender, who had the only set of keys, stepped away from the bar for a few minutes (keys in hand).

** the light in the foyer was turned out by the manager closing up for the night. She went around the side to come in from there to "clock out on the computer just inside the door." She left, locking up, and went back around front to her car. The foyer light was on. "She, obviously shaken, did not return inside to turn it off." This was, by the way, the same tiffany lamp I mentioned above.

Northern California psychic Annette Martin joined me in 1997 in keeping tabs on the place. We have actually done a number of sessions for groups in which Annette "connected" with the ghost, playing medium for the Blue Lady --- who likes to be called Cayte, according to Annette and three other, independent, psychics.  When I questioned the ghost (through Annette at a contact session in 1999) about the spelling of the name and why "Cayte" instead of what she'd always told us her name was -- Elizabeth Claire --, I got an answer that was revealing and fun.  "I'm dead," said Cayte through Annette.  "I can call myself anything I like, and spell it the way I like it."

Cayte, through Annette,  provided us with more information each session about the herself  than we had gotten before. Interestingly enough, there were a number of items Annette provided that had also been spoken by two other psychics (and one or two local witnesses) who had been in some sort of "contact" with the ghost. More interesting is the fact that these items were not common knowledge (I try to hold some things back from the public for just such situations).

Cayte became upset whenever her husband (her murderer) was mentioned (outwardly, Annette portrayed Cayte's distress). Very interestingly, the two magnetic field detectors I had beside Annette, which each measure different frequency ranges, BOTH began registering high readings whenever the subject of the husband came up (but not at any other time).

Why was she still there "haunting" the restaurant? Apparently, she had such fond memories of the place when she was alive --- mainly, we assume, because of the "love of her life" working there --- that it was the logical place for her to "stay" while waiting for her lover to die and for his spirit to find her. The Blue Lady has also passed along her opinion that the more fun people have at the restaurant, the more fun she has as well in her "after-life."

Early in 1999, I had a more direct encounter with Cayte and subsequently met a witness of great importance to us.

In February, I returned with a small television crew to shoot part of a direct-to-video project that I am intimately involved in (as part of the production and creative staff). We decided to spend two nights in a row at the Distillery. Included in the team was Annette Martin, Pam Heath (a researcher with some degree of psychic sensitivity), and another psychic I’d just begun working with, Stache Margaret Murray.

During our investigation, Annette contacted Cayte again as we videotaped the session. At one point, the director, Jude Gerard Prest, asked for Cayte  to "do something" for the camera. As we looked over the footage later, we were amazed to see some unusual white and green lights darting in back and front of Annette’s head just after Jude made the request. It was the only spot on the video shot over the two nights with such an effect, and the timing of it --- right after Jude made his request --- leaves us with more than a coincidental occurrence.

On the second night, I was taking magnetic readings behind the bar when my magnetometer spiked quite high. A second later, I felt a rippling effect through my body, as though someone was walking through me. It passed, then returned from the other direction. Then repeated.

I knew that somehow, the Blue Lady was getting my attention by moving through my body; literally walking through me back and forth. As she finished her second pass through, Annette, Pam and Stache were entering the room and stopped, all staring at me. Annette began laughing, and either Pam or Stache (I’m afraid I was too busy paying attention to the ghost) said "hey, she’s walking right through you" --- followed by more laughter from all three. They agreed to seeing the same thing.

In case you're wondering, it felt pretty good to have her walk through me like that.   Not that my wife likes to hear that.

Later that year, during another investigation at the USS Hornet, a decommissioned WWII aircraft carrier that sits in the water near San Francisco as a museum --- and is quite haunted ---- one of the witnesses related a tale of his own sighting of the Blue Lady during the 1950s, when he was 12 years old.

This witness, an ex-US Naval officer gave us some interesting facts about the early days of the Distillery. It was his father (who I mentioned at the top of the article) who was the attorney involved in the unrecorded raids and shoot-outs at Frank’s Roadhouse, raids described in Annette Martin's "contact" with the Blue Lady (and unconfirmed by historical record).

According to Alan, his father stayed in touch with Frank Torres and later with the next owners of the place. In the mid-50s, he and his parents were invited for dinner by the owners, and stuck around long after. Sometime after midnight after everyone else had left, the adults were talking and having drinks. Alan’s father and the owner looked over and saw a door to the kitchen shut by itself. The owner commented that such things "happened all the time."

A while later, Alan’s mother directed them to look at that same door, where they saw the outline of a woman. Apparently, no one was upset by it at all.

Then, as Alan and his folks were driving away, he looked over at the restaurant and saw the same outline of the woman at the window.

Perhaps she was saying goodbye?

As an additional point, we asked Alan McKean if he recalled anything about a tunnel from the beach to the restaurant that was used during Prohibition. Alan stated that his father told him about a storage tunnel than ran from around the bluff, but not to the restaurant. It was only for storing additional illegal liquor. His description of the location and type of tunnel matched what Annette told us --- or rather what the ghost told us through Annette.

And very recently, a local Moss Beach writer may have found someone who knows where that tunnel entrance is. The witness apparently discovered the tunnel when climbing around the rocks on the shore. It was approximately in the location named by Annette and Alan.

The Moss Beach Distillery allows me to get more and more information on the behavior and patterns surround an apparition. As I encounter more current witnesses, witness phenomena myself, and even find the rare witness like Alan who can provide earlier sightings and more historical information, the evidence mounts.

The Blue Lady, Cayte, has told several psychics that she’s quite happy where she is, so no attempt has been made to force her to move on (especially since the current owner wants her around). As we continue to dig into this case, I’m hoping that someday we can uncover the identity and current status of her piano playing lover.

It’s the least I can do for this ghost who’s provided me with so much rich experience.