The Ghosts of Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

The Ghosts of Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

46 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, Florida 32084

St. Augustine is teeming with spirits. Even your local seafood joint has a poltergeist or two. Cue Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille, the hot spot (or rather cold spot) for ghostly encounters. From a lady in white with a firecracker personality to an old-timey, finely-dressed gent, the ghosts of Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill are sure to chill you to the bone.

Did you know?

  • The de Porras house was originally built of tabby, which was made by mixing burnt oyster shells, sand, and ash to create a concrete-like substance.
  • The building now housing Harry's Seafood at 46 Avenida Menendez was initially constructed as a single-family home.
  • Harry's Seafood is haunted by a man in a tailcoat, an enslaved woman, and the feisty Catalina.

Who Was Catalina?

Most St. Augustinians are familiar with the fearless spirit that is Catalina but few know her story.

Catalina was the daughter of the home's first owners, Juana Navarro and Salvador Francisco de Porras.

In 1768, as the Spanish gave up control of St. Augustine to the British, the de Porras family decided to leave Florida and settle in Cuba.

They remained in Cuba until 1784 when the Spanish forced the British out of East Florida. Catalina, now a married woman, knew it was the right time to return to St. Augustine and reclaim her childhood home.

When they arrived, they were shocked to see the city's once-grand homes in a state of disarray. Damaged beyond repair, the houses were pending auction or demolition by the governor.

Catalina and her husband Joseph Xavier managed to convince the governor to reinstate the home to their name. The couple looked forward to beginning anew in St. Augustine.

While the family had been away, their beloved villa had been claimed by a company in New York which converted it into a storage barn.

They restored the home to its former glory. Unfortunately, Catalina was unable to enjoy it for very long as she died a few years later.

Legend has it that even in death, she has not left the home.

Encountering Catalina

Catalina is one of the most active ghosts in St. Augustine, manifesting in front of Harry’s Seafood patrons without much effort.

The apparition is known for her boldness, gliding across the second-floor dining area in what some believe to be a white bridal gown. She's been spotted walking through walls and closed doors, even when the restaurant is full to capacity.

Her presence is said to fill the air with a delightful scent, a perfume customers have described as flowery and musky at the same time. Move over Chanel No. 5, there's a new fragrance in town.

Catalina's ghost has become somewhat of a popular attraction, with tons of tourists and locals flocking to Harry's in the hopes of running into this lady in white.

A Vulnerable Moment

For those looking for a sure-fire way to come face-to-face with Catalina, the second floor restroom is your best bet.

Interestingly, the restroom used to be her bedroom, and it's where she's most commonly seen.

There's a story circulating on the internet of two women who taunted Catalina. Needless to say, it didn't end well.

The two decided to stop by the haunted restroom to see if the lady in white would reveal itself to them. They sat there for a few minutes, asking Catalina to come out, but when she didn't, they turned to insults. They said she was "too scared" to be seen, deeming her a coward as they left.

They laughed their way out of the establishment, forgetting almost immediately what they'd just said.

But Catalina didn’t.

It’s Not Over Yet

Sometime later, one of the women returned to Harry's on a ghost tour. As the tour guide recounted Catalina's story, she got a sudden, unexpected urge to use the restroom.

She took care of business, washed her hands, and turned the faucet off. Her side was out of paper towels, so she walked to the other side to dry her hands. As she did, the tap she'd just closed started spewing water. The pressure increased as if someone was turning the knob.

She thought to herself: did I forget to turn off the faucet? By that time, the water was on full blast. She walked back to the other sink and stuck her hand under the running water only to yank it away in pain. It was scalding.

She shut off the faucet and bolted out of the bathroom, pale as a ghost.

The tour guide caught wind of what happened and told her she must've done something to anger Catalina.

That day, the woman learned a ghost (especially one as spunky as Catalina) should never be taunted.

You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?

Catalina can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

In her book Haunted St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Elizabeth Randall includes the chilling tale involving Catalina, as told by Erica, a long-time Harry's bartender.

Erica claims that one night a ghost tour stopped by the establishment. Amongst the wide-eyed guests was a middle-aged man, cursing like a sailor. Other guests on tour were feeling uncomfortable, but they weren't the only ones.

The man was warned by both the tour guide and the bartender that cursing upsets Catalina. He didn't seem to care and continued spewing profanities.

Erica claims that five minutes into the tour, his head flew back seemingly on its own and all of a sudden he had a bloody nose.

He'd been hit by an unseen force, presumed to be Catalina's spirit. All anyone could do was say, "We told you so."

A Slave Was Never Freed

According to legend, Bridget Barry - an African-American slave - lost her life at 46 Avenida Menendez. In 1887, a vicious fire broke out and locals were evacuated from their smoke-filled homes.

Bridget had few belongings in her quarters and decided to run back into the flames to retrieve them.

Sadly, before she could get out, the fire destroyed the home, taking Bridget's life in the process.

Barry's final moments were tragic and pain-stricken. Burning to death being arguably the most difficult death one can experience.

Some believe that Bridget's sheer fear and desperation during her final moments crippled her chances to transcend. And she was left to roam eternity in our world.

Harry's customers often complain of smelling smoke and burnt cloth. Being that this is a restaurant, these comments are taken seriously. Strangely, however, after the entire establishment is searched, no one can find the culprit.

Customers have also reported that when the unpleasant smell strikes, they usually feel nervous as if they're life is in danger.

Could they be picking up on the emotions Bridget felt in her final moments?

The Hat Man

Just like other haunted locations, Harry’s has an infamous hat man.

Little is known about this man or why he haunts the place. Rumor has it, two men died in the building in the 1800s; one succumbed to illness while the other died under mysterious circumstances.

Regardless of who he is, we know he's a sharp dresser. Said to be over 6 feet tall, he's been seen rocking a Victorian-style tailcoat and hat.

Undoubtedly a creepy apparition, this gentle giant is not associated with any poltergeist activity. He simply manifests in front of patrons, disappearing before they can get a second look.

Harry’s for Dinner and Drinks

Visit Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille, for a taste of St. Augustine's best New Orleans-inspired dishes. Even if you don't see a ghost, we guarantee this 5-star rated restaurant will not disappoint.

Our St. Augustine Ghost Tours

Are you visiting St. Augustine? Spending an evening in search of the ghosts which haunt St. Augustine is a great time. Join us on a Ghost Tour for a spooky night of fun!

Get to know St. Augustine's Most Haunted Places

Castillo de San Marcos, one of the most haunted places in St. Augustine.
Castillo de San Marcos

St. Augustine's famous haunted Fort

Tolomato Cemetery, which is said to be haunted by pirates, sailors, and soldiers, in St. Augustine..
Tolomato Cemetery

One of St. Augustine's haunted cemeteries

The St. Augustine Lighthouse, at night, said to be haunted by sailors and keepers of the lighthouse.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse

The famous haunted Lighthouse