Boo, Moo: Ghost Cows at Chad’s

Bovine Boogeymen Purported to Haunt Popular Nightspot

Chad's Restaurant
Elena Gray-Blanc

There’s a proverb, variously phrased and attributed, that states that a person may be known by the company they keep. Weird SB would like to suggest that one may also know a locale by the spectral apparitions supposed to be present.

Several months ago, Weird SB covered the phantom albino raccoon said to prowl the streets of Isla Vista. As Isla Vista’s resident spook, a raccoon seems oddly fitting: mischievous, nocturnal, and continually looking for snacks. It’s possible, therefore, that it says something about Chad’s Restaurant that it’s supposedly haunted by not one, but many, dead cows. What that something might be is left to the imagination of the reader.

While it’s tempting to think that Chad’s has made its alleged bovine hauntings known as a way to generate publicity, rather than as an ingenuous public service, one would think that an invented spook might be more glamorous. Much as those who claim to be aware of their past lives are more frequently embodiments of Cleopatra or Napoleon than of a peasant farmer who lived and died in obscurity, a business looking for a quick marketing fix might be well advised to find a legend with more cache than a herd of ghostly cattle.

Be that as it may, the story goes that the Sherman and Ealand Meat Market was the source of the ghost cows. Charles E. Sherman, co-owner of Sherman and Ealand, built the house Chad’s now occupies in 1876. The cows who made the butcher shop so successful are presumed to be the current ghosts occupying the building.

But it seems that ghost cows are no more intelligent than live cows. Despite the change in ownership, the cows have not moved on; instead, as the Chad’s website says, they “are known to stop by unexpectedly to sip our famous Martinis.” A Chad’s employee, however, answered inquiries about the ghostly cows by stating that he has never seen one of these apparitions, with or without a martini.

Having stopped by the Chad’s happy hour and sampled some of those martinis – purely, of course, in the interests of science – it is certain that the after-work hours are not prime haunting time; the ghost cows were conspicuous by their absence.

And so the verdict is still out on whether or not ghostly cows do drift through Chad’s in search of a martini or perhaps in the attempt to scare diners into ordering the salad as eye-witness accounts were impossible to come by. One thing is certain, however: if the Chad’s specters are real, the restaurant may have been unwise to publicize them. The very words “ghost cows” are so evocative of awe and dread, even without the ghastly sight of the object, that potential customers who believe the story might actually be discouraged from risking the terror of a an evening at Chad’s.

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