Round Rock’s Haunted Louisiana Longhorn Cafe

Louisiana Longhorn Dining

 

It was all eerie hearsay and spooky stories until I walked into the basement of the Louisiana Longhorn Cafe in Downtown Round Rock, Texas, and was met with the same feelings the staff has experienced for over twenty years. 

History of 200 E. Main Street, Round Rock

Main Street (formerly Georgetown Ave) has been the center of Round Rock’s activity since it was developed as New Town in 1876 at the southern terminus of a railroad line. The 100-foot-wide Main Street runs parallel with the railroad tracks less than two blocks away on a gentle slope south of Brushy Creek. Main Street was the commercial center of New Round Rock, as it was called until 1891, and has experienced a dynamic revitalization since the early 2000s.

The 200 block of E Main Street has an interesting history and confusing addresses. 200-204 was believed to be a grocery store (one location) in the late 1800s. Then, the building was divided, and Round Rock Mercantile lived at 200 & 202 E. Main Street from 1902-1909, while Economy Drug Store was at 204 E. Main Street (now the Brass Tap) during the same time period. Right next door, at 206, was Dr. Dick Gregg’s office from 1930 – 1963, though Dr. Gregg had been the town physician since 1922. A very busy block in Round Rock. 

204 E. Main Street Drug Store/Quick Pharmacy (1907) Pharmacist Green O. Noble operated a pharmacy here from 1907 to 1942, and Quick Pharmacy operated from 1942-1984. 29 202 E. Main Street Wiess Store/Carlson’s Dry Goods (1907) Originally built as part of the Mercantile, by 1928 Jim Carlson operated a dry goods and shoe store in half of it. 30 200 E. Main Street Round Rock Mercantile (1907) Building is stone with pressed tin façade and corrugated steel canopy, and has housed many Round Rock businesses.

I had my own personal experience inside Brass Tap, but I had no idea that there was a ghostly connection between the businesses on this block. After I visited with the lovely folks at Louisiana Longhorn Cafe, it all made sense. 

The Ghosts of Round Rock’s Louisiana Longhorn Cafe

Louisiana Longhorn Round Rock

When I reached out for a chat, I was met with familiar Texas hospitality and a warm welcome, which is not always the case when you ask someone to talk about their business’s hauntings. Carolyn has been with Louisiana Longhorn Cafe since it opened 21 years ago. When the owners decided to sell and return to Louisiana, Carolyn stayed put and now works with the family who bought the restaurant about two years ago. And she has the skinny on the ghosts. 

There is a mystery about just how many ghosts there are inside the Cafe, but there is one who has been a constant and has earned the name Charlie. Charlie is a cowboy who likes to bang pots and pans, open and close drawers, and float past employees, leaving them with a chill and their hair standing on end. But is it Charlie who also breathes heavily on the back of necks? Or is it another spirit stuck inside the cafe? 

 The Cafe’s next-door neighbor is now an Aveda Salon, but it was previously a gift shop, and Charlie liked to visit them, too. Carolyn told us the story of when the shop discovered something unusual on their door. The paint had chipped off overnight to create a portrait of a cowboy on the door. Apparently, Charlie wanted to be sure that folks saw his handsome mug. 

I took notes and appreciated Carolyn’s thoughtful recall and willingness to share her stories. Then, I hit the jackpot when she said, “Most of our staff refuse to go in the basement.” Ding Ding Ding!!! “Basement?” I asked with Christmas morning excitement.  

Let me explain – I don’t get excited about basements in general, but downtown Round Rock sits on top of what used to be the town’s water source. In 1896, Round Rock’s first well, “Town Well,” was drilled near the intersection of Mays and Main Street.  The well often would run artesian and flood the streets.  Eventually, the City Council ordered that the well be capped in 1931.  There’s also a ton of limestone in Central Texas. Water and limestone are thought to be energetic conduits. So, that basement was my holy grail of hauntings. 

As we made our way to the basement, Carolyn told me about staff members being touched, almost shoved, down the stairs. When we entered the kitchen, a nice server was more than willing to share her experiences and concerns, “I have felt hands on me. I won’t go down there anymore.” Is Charlie a bully in the basement?

The Basement of Louisiana Longhorn Cafe

As Carolyn led me down the narrow stairs, the atmosphere and temperature immediately changed. When I stepped on the last step, I was immediately struck with vertigo. Carolyn showed me around what is now used as storage, and my vertigo refused to subside, only to be followed by a tightness in my chest and waves of nausea. Was it merely claustrophobia causing the unsettling and sick feelings? Or was there something down there? 

My head was swimming with visions and thoughts I had no control over. I began thinking of what it must have been like in the early 1900s and the energy the basement had held for over a century. (Not to mention the intensive labor of building a basement in a limestone earth.)

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Round Rock, like many towns with train tracks, was a target for robberies and thieves. These dastardly dudes would hop off one train, hold up an unsuspecting business, and jump the next train car with the loot. Or outlaw cowboys would ride in, firing their six-shooters and terrorizing businesses, making off with money and goods. Businesses often set their safe in or near the basement door to hide until the threats were gone. 

Was the overwhelming oppressive feelings I had in the basement residual from something tragic? Or was it all psychological, built up from the anticipation of going into the mysterious space, wondering what secrets were still hidden in the walls? I’ve had too many “experiences” not to believe, but I am still skeptical. I think most things can be debunked. Some people think that if you are a “believer,” you are more open to experiences, but I think believers are just more willing to overlook the explanations with the hopes of something being paranormal. However, those feelings I felt in the basement didn’t go away when I left. 

Later that afternoon, while attempting to incorporate my notes into this article, I could hardly keep my eyes open. I was exhausted—mentally, physically, and all of me. It felt as if I had been cramming for an exam for days and had just turned the test in to determine my future. I fell asleep at 2:30 PM and didn’t wake up until almost 5:00! But it wasn’t enough; by 9:00 PM, I was done again and slept over eight hours.

A few days later, I went back over to thank the gals I chatted with and begged for another trip down into the basement. When I reached the last step, I once again felt vertigo, but it was nothing like before. This time was more of a tease, not as bold and intrusive. When I left, I didn’t experience the exhaustion or disorientation like the first visit. This isn’t uncommon. Oftentimes, during investigations, the experiences change or lie dormant for a while. Is it us or them? Who knows. Maybe we take as much energy from them as we think they are taking from us.

Texas Friendly and Lagniappe Louisiana Longhorn Table

I can’t recommend a visit to Louisiana Longhorn Cafe enough. The folks are warm and welcoming, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere is the perfect blend of Texas Friendly and Louisiana Hospitality. When I miss my old life in New Orleans or become nostalgic for my time on the Bogue Falaya, I know that I can pop into Louisiana Longhorn and get my bayou fix, as well as some good old southern gothic ghosts.