*SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains spoilers for Episode 15. Before reading, be sure to listen to Buenos Aires Café - Part I. Afterward, feel free to check out this "Behind-the-Episode" blog for additional info and photos! And visit our Patreon page for more extras!
Photos for this story provided by Thao Photography
Located at the corner of E. 6th and Waller St. in Austin, Texas, Buenos Aires Café sits unassumingly. Aside from it's bold colors and beautiful sign, it's actually a quiet little café on a relatively quiet street in Austin, Texas. I mean quiet in a good senses. It's a peaceful and inviting space. However, I know E. 6th. St. has grown more popular and busy, with new bars, restaurants, and shops - so nightlife here is most likely a tad more lively and vibrant. I honestly have only visited during the daytime, but I kind of enjoyed this more on this case.
As I mentioned on Episode 15, the start of this Buenos Aires investigation series, I'd received a text from a friend, Sandra. At the time, she was acting as General Manager of Buenos Aires Café, and informed me that many of the staff had witnessed strange phenomena here. Obviously, I wanted to know more, so I popped by the café one day on my lunch break, and had the pleasure of meeting Paola, owner of the the restaurant.
Paola Guerrero Smith - co-owner of family-owned Buenos Aires Café
Paola gave me a brief tour and an abridged version of the activity her and her staff have experienced in the 10 years they've been in the building. I was thrilled to have access to this unique restaurant in East Austin and even more inticed after hearing Paola's stories.
On December 1st, the team and I returned, this time ready to capture everyone's testimony and get the full picture of what was going on here.
Pictured above, Alexis and I begin by having Paola recount very her first experiences here in the building. We're standing in the main dining room. Behind me is the small partition wall that splits the main dining room in half. Paola's left arm is on the upstairs bar. Behind this bar is the kitchen.
One of the first experiences Paola ever had was having the coffee cups fall to the floor when she was closing one night. She thought, one time, okay, that's weird but maybe just some accident. Then it happened the next night. Then again on the third night. It was then that she began to realize, there might be something strange happening in this building. Pictured above, Paolo shows me where the cups used to be. She's since added hooks and now hangs all of her cups.
Behind the upstairs bar, in the café's kitchen, Paola and staff shared more experiences with me. Above, Paola shows me where bowls and plates that have been stacked have fallen, for no reason, onto kitchen manager Manny's head. It happens all the time and only to him. This is also where the printer that printed out Chef Chris' name when no one was in the building with him.
Below Paola's arm is the line where a plate of empanada's was seen sliding from one end to the other by numerous kitchen staff.
Magdalena - prep cook
Magdalena senses and sometimes sees a presence in the kitchen with her. She claims is something rushing by her as she preps. Behind Magdalena, you'll notice one set of the the swinging kitchen doors. There's another pair of these same doors to the left of these on the other side of the kitchen. Shadows have been seen moving in and out of these doors and within the kitchen, and some staff have reported seeing these doors open and close.
Chris Gomez - Chef
Chef Chris has had a handful of experiences in the kitchen. The first thing that got him feeling a little uneasy was when the printer printed out a receipt with his full name and the station he was working on that morning. The problem is, he was completely alone in the building and names don't print out on the receipt machine.
Later, Chris witnessed a plate of empanadas move entirely on it's own across the counter. He thought he was imagining things but two other kitchen staff members were there and saw it happen too.
Paola informed me that past kitchen staff would report seeing a shadow or silhouette of a figure in the kitchen when they'd come in the morning and flip on the kitchen lights. The figure would be there then disappear or dart out the doors. Many staff have mistaken this shadow figure for an intruder or perhaps a homeless person who's broken into the building.
On the other side of the partition wall in the dining room, Paola showed us where a very commonly reported phenomena occurs. Below where we are standing, Paola informed us is their basement office. Countless closing managers have reported hearing someone walking loudly on the floor we are standing on when they are doing paperwork in the office. They run up thinking someone has broken into the building or somehow an employee stayed back, but when they do, they find the building entirely vacant.
Former General Manager Sandra describes the sounds she's heard above her while doing paperwork in this office. She claims it took sometime but she got used to it and it seemed to lessen over time for her as well.
Moving toward the back of the building you'll find a rusty metal door with this sign on it. When you push through, you are led to a dark concrete stairway leading to the basement.
Down the stairs, you take a left which leads down a hallway. There's another hallway that branches to the left. This hallway leads to the dry storage area of the basement.
Me making my way into dry storage
Paola explained that many of her morning staff refuse to come down to this dry storage area unless they have a co-worker with them. When they first opened the café, they had stand alone freezers with space under them. Produce that would fall and roll under the freezers would eventually roll back out toward employees, as if someone was tossing it back out at them.
This same hallway to dry storage is where kitchen manager Manny saw the male shadow following him alongside him and he eventually realized it wasn't his own shadow when it continued walking past him. Manny described the shadow as a slender male figure. Chef Chris has also reported seeing tall male shadows in dry storage and Milonga.
If you come back out of dry storage and turn left down the main basement hallway you'll see a curtained-off room. This opens up to Milonga, the café's hidden speakeasy.
Milonga Room - Buenos Aires Café
The Milonga Room is a new addition to Buenos Aires Café. It opened just over 2 years ago, and owner Paola said the space went through serious renovations. She admits activity seems to be much more active since opening Milonga, but she's not sure if it correlates, or if her current staff is just much more sensitive to paranormal activity.
Milonga Bartender, Sydnee, is one such employee. She claims she's always been sensitive to this kind of stuff, and since working down here, she's felt a male presence that seems to affect her mood.
Paola was down in Milonga during renovations when she had a significant sighting. While hanging a mirror, Paola saw a male figure behind her in the mirror. She turned around and there was no one. She described a very tall man wearing a coat.
Chef Chris has seen a shadowy male figure on numerous occasions. He claims that the figure is tall - possibly six foot or taller.
Sky, the café's pastry chef who preferred not to be photographed, is the first to arrive most mornings. She doesn't like coming down to Milonga because of an experience she had when she first started working here. She came downstairs one morning and while in the basement hallway saw a male figure in Milonga. He appeared to walk in the direction of the office but there's no other door there that would lead out. When she checked, there was no one in Milonga. She too believes the male to be about six foot tall or taller.
One employee that I hadn't gotten a chance to talk to was a manager named Allison. Almost everyone I'd talked to so far, including Paola, claimed that the male spirit liked to mess with her the most.
I was scheduled to capture her testimony this same day, but Paola informed me that Allison had grown nervous and decided against sharing her stories. Thankfully, she was willing to chat with me over the phone to see if there would be a way for her to share her stories with me comfortably. She admitted being inside the building and talking about it made her a bit uneasy. So we came to a compromise. We would sit outside.
Allison opened up and told me of all the things that she's experienced. She'd heard the footsteps upstairs at closing time. Once, she even grabbed a butcher knife and rushed upstairs to confront the intruder she was certain was in the building - but no one was there.
Another frightening experience Allison had closing alone one night, she felt a presence with her in Milonga. Then the light above her began to flicker. She moved and the light stopped, but the one she'd moved under now was flickering. The flicker followed her until she left Milonga. She's standing below the lights in the photo above.
Allison admits that she strongly believes the presence is a male. She also feels it really likes to mess with her the most. She's seena figure at the bar down in Milonga that was there as fast as it wasn't and produced a scream from her. Lastly, the entitiy has touched her on her leg before - one night while doing paperwork, she felt the touch while sitting at the bar in Milonga.
Paola admitted she too believes the presence is a male. She informed us that she is very spiritual and during a trip to Cuba she saw a friend who speaks to his ancestors as a spiritual practice. This friend informed Paola that the presence in her café was a male and that he meant no harm but was there protecting something. He suggested to Paolo to set up a shrine/altar for him and leave offerings.
At the edge of the bar in Milonga you'll find a small shrine. Paola leaves coffee, white liquor, and cigarettes for this presence her and her staff feel and see regularly. They believe his main domain is Milonga. Part of what's led to this theory is something Paola and the staff have discovered in the basement bathroom.
Basement Bathroom - my photographer wife taking a selfie
When acquiring the building, Paola noticed the basement was once living quarters. It was equipped with a bathroom and kitchen downstairs. In this bathroom, Paola and staff have clearly seen that there is a name spelled out in the shower tiles. "LEON" In this same bathroom is where Chef Chris encountered a tall misty white shadow as well.
The staff has adopted the name Leon for the male presence they've felt and seen. They all call him Leon and the shrines are dedicated to him and patrons leave money and cigarettes and buy him drinks.
Paola has done many things to acknowledge and honor the presence in her building, but many of her staff still feel uncomfortable in the building. Paola has reached out to us to see if we can get to the bottom of the strange happenings at Buenos Aires Café, and in Episode 16, we will return to see what we can do to help. Tune in on February 25th to see what we find.
Thanks for reading and listening my fellow Night Owls!
Stay restless out there,