Do the dead have favorite watering holes?

Inside Bellbrook’s haunted pub

By Avery King

Photo: The half-pound cheeseburger and fries at McIntosh’s Pub

McIntosh’s Pub & Grub, located at 6 E. Franklin St., is a brown brick building near downtown Bellbrook. It looks unassuming, but the locals tell tales about this neighborhood mainstay, stories of unexplained happenings. In honor of Halloween, the Dayton City Paper sent me to investigate.

Before setting out, I contacted local paranormal investigator Lee Allen. Allen runs ParaVizionz Paranormal, a four-person investigative team that seeks out haunted locales. Allen’s team has explored such haunted areas as The Ridges, which is Athens’ former insane asylum, and the Mansfield Reformatory, an historic prison. In late August 2011, Allen’s team investigated a series of places in Bellbrook, including McIntosh’s.

Allen’s investigation focused on three areas: the upstairs, where people reported hearing unexplained footsteps; the basement, where people experienced a creepy vibe; and the bar itself, where an unknown “man” has been reported multiple times.

Allen recounted his experience to me: “Everybody there was great. We waited ’til they closed, then we spent several hours. We actually did hear a lot of the footsteps upstairs. We were getting a lot of good spikes on our equipment down in the basement. The K2 meter was going off on command, like we were actually having an intelligent conversation with someone.” (For those uninitiated in paranormal investigative equipment, a K2 meter picks up electromagnetic fields emitted by spirits.)

Allen’s account gave me the chills. However, he reassured me that the pub was safe and urged me to check it out. My girlfriend and I went with my kids to investigate for ourselves.

The pub is divided into two areas – the bar area and a back dining room. With children in tow, we opted for the dining room. The pub is extremely family-friendly – they have an affordable kids’ menu and there were a number of other families with kids the same age. There are several video and pinball games to keep kids occupied while their food comes out.

At Allen’s recommendation, we ordered the pretzel bites. We also had the fried pickles, both of which came out preternaturally quickly. The pretzels vanished immediately – they were a hit and my little goblins got to them before I did. The fried pickles were also a favorite.

The fare at McIntosh’s is typical pub grub: burgers, sandwiches and pizzas. One of my sons had a half-pound cheeseburger, while my other son had the chicken tenders. My daughter had the deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese bites. My girlfriend and I opted for the large veggie pizza. The portions were huge and we barely finished our meals, leaving some for hungry lost souls. Our only minor complaint was about the price of the pizza. The crust and the sauce were outstanding, but the veggies were clearly canned, and $21 for the family-sized pizza felt a bit steep compared to other local establishments.

That said, we had a terrific time. The kids enjoyed looking for ghosts, although the only ones we found were on the Ms. Pac-Man game. If we hadn’t heard the stories before we visited, we wouldn’t have known to look for anything. Olivia, our server, was anything but frightening. Energetic and friendly, she was great with the kids and prompt with our food and drinks. When we asked her about the rumors, she confessed to being a bit freaked out by the basement but hadn’t experienced much of what Allen reported.

Allen himself concluded that whatever haunting was occurring was harmless. He noted the spirit at the bar was most likely an old soul frequenting his familiar drinking haunt. “It’s nobody to be frightened of,” Allen said. “It’s just a man coming up to the bar. It’s somewhere where he loves.” Allen’s theory is that many spirits return to the locations they loved in life, places where they felt comfortable.

As for the footsteps, Allen views them as harmless, too. “The footsteps upstairs, in fact, I think way back, it used to be a dance area. We’re picking up residual dancing on the hardwood floors.” As for the basement, Allen speculates it is the same spirit that haunts the bar. “I think the person downstairs is the man [at the bar]. He’s just curious about what’s going on. He’s just there to see, make sure that everything is staying cool and kosher with the building.”

After our meal, I took the kids into the bar area to look for ghosts. We saw nothing out of the ordinary – just a lot of folks drinking cold beers and having a good time. The place was filled with positive energy, which explains why someone might want to return again and again, even in the afterlife.

McIntosh’s Pub & Grub is located at 6 E. Franklin St. They don’t have a website, but you can find and follow them on Facebook or call them at 937.848.3200. For more details about Allen’s 2011 investigation, including audio snippets, check out the case studies section of his website:

Reach DCP food critic Avery King at

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