The year was 2001.
It was late on a foggy Christmas Eve at The Moss Beach Distillery, and Melissa Vega and her coworkers were ready to go home after working a busy night waiting on holiday revelers.
But there was still work to be done.
Closing the restaurant down for the night wasn’t Vega's favorite task, especially when she had to go into the dry storage room on the bottom level of the restaurant to restock wine bottles.
She always had an overwhelming feeling down there that someone else was in the room with her, even though she was the only one there. Usually she would take a coworker with her.
But tonight was different.
Everyone just wanted to go home for the holiday, to be with his or her family and friends. So they divvied up the work, hoping to get everything done for closing as quickly as possible.
Vega went downstairs to the storage room, the part of the restaurant that used to be a speakeasy where rum runners and sold illegal booze to thirsty clients during the years. She opened the door to the small, narrow room and turned on the light.
Bending down in front of the shelves, she began pulling the wine bottles off the bottom shelf. As she worked, a strange feeling of fear crept up and over her back, tingling her head and arms.
“It felt like someone was in this tiny room with me,” she said. “I was still for a moment, wondering why I felt so uncomfortable, when all of a sudden I felt a stroke on the back of my head and neck. It felt as if someone was stroking my head and neck telling me that everything was okay.”
She screamed out, “Stop!”
She knew whom she was talking to.
It was the Blue Lady, the legendary ghost trapped within the confines of the Moss Beach restaurant and outside patio area on the bluffs, trying to recapture the romance and excitement of the speakeasy years. She’s teased and spooked other coworkers and even restaurant patrons, but always left Vega alone up until that one Christmas Eve night.
“I had been working at the Distillery for about four years at that time, and the Blue Lady had left me alone up until then, probably because she was respecting the fact that I am pretty scared of ghosts and the afterlife in general," Vega said. "It was as if the Blue Lady was trying to comfort me because I was so scared to be down there by myself. Nevertheless, it scared me even more. She has always been very respectful as far as backing down and letting me be for a long stretch of time after that.”
Still, for the 14 years she’s worked at the Moss Beach Distillery as a waitress, then bartender, and now as the restaurant's sales and marketing manager, Vega always has the overwhelming feeling that someone else is in the room with her even though she’s the only one there.
“Many of my experiences happen when we are closing down late at night,” said Vega.
One night, she was tapped on the shoulder and moved out of the way, thinking it was another employee needing to get by. When she turned around, nobody was there.
“It is a very weird feeling because you’re like, ‘I know I felt a tap, but why is there no one there?’ It can be very unnerving, but not malicious at all,” said Vega.
The story of the Blue Lady began more than 70 years ago. According to Coastside legend, a beautiful, young woman met a handsome dangerous man by chance and fell in love with him. This sophisticated ladies' man was, say some, a piano player in the bar. The naive young woman, always dressed in blue, was already married to another but her unsuspecting husband never knew of the illicit affair. She made many trips to the restaurant to be with her lover.
The beautiful lady in blue was reportedly killed — stabbed to death — while walking on the beach below the restaurant with her lover. He was assaulted, but survived. The husband was never seen again.
Since then, many strange events have been documented that can not be explained, such as mysterious phone calls with no caller, levitating checkbooks, locked rooms from the inside without any other means of entry, women diners losing one earring (with several of the earrings found in one place weeks later), unexplained dates being tampered with in the restaurant's computer system, sightings by small children, sightings of a ghostly man sitting in the restaurant's office, and unexplained images of a lady in a wide-brimmed hat captured in photographs.
Susan Broderick, the Moss Beach Distillery’s bookkeeper for nine years, remembers a few years ago when she was working late in the accounting office downstairs.
She was the only person in the office working late that night. She needed to back up her accounting module, and she could only do that on the computer next to hers as it was the only networked computer in her office with the ability to do this.
She suddenly heard her printer turn on and start printing.
“I did not click on any ‘print’ commands, and there was no reason for the printer at my desk to turn on and print anything. It was a very spooky moment for me,” said Broderick. “I had no idea what was gong on.”
She walked back to her desk and picked up the piece of paper that had just finished printing.
It was a picture of a tiny heart. That’s all that was on the page.
“It surprised me so much that I cut that little heart out of that piece of paper and taped it to my computer monitor,” said Broderick. “I left it there for many years. I often wonder if it was our Blue Lady keeping me company late that night.”
The restaurant’s floor manager, Debbie Goldfarb, also has a story.
“I was sitting at the hostess stand and seriously recounting ghost stories with another manager," Goldfarb said. "We were not just talking about our restaurant, but about other hauntings we had experienced. As we spoke, a clipboard which hangs from a nail not more than three feet from where we were sitting began to swing back and forth clanking the Mardi Gras beads that were hanging behind it. There had been no earthquake. Absolutely nothing perceptible had happened to make the clipboard move.”
It’s incidents like this that make Vega a believer.
“They just don’t pay me enough to be a liar,” she said.
There is a spiritual energy level, she believes, that some people can open themselves up to. It took her four years at the restaurant before experiencing it.
She was always apprehensive about ghosts and the afterlife and still has fear around it, but when it comes to the Blue Lady, “I understand how respectful she is, and I talk to her and she will respect you,” said Vega.
But when it’s late at night and the energy level slows down at the restaurant, the Blue Lady gets restless.
“It’s here at the Distillery when things get quiet at night,” said Vega, “and especially downstairs, that you feel the Blue Lady is with you, perhaps searching for her lover.”