ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – Situated in downtown Escanaba, the historic House of Ludington has overlooked Lake Michigan since 1864, and offers beautiful hotel rooms and delicious French-style food to its guests. Now under new management, a team of brothers is working to revitalize the landmark while also keeping the old spirit of the place alive. One of the managers and executive chef, Chris Dubord, says he’s working to do that through his menu.
“I tried really hard to make sure that we put things on the menu that people are familiar with [and] not to go way too out of the range,” said Chris. “And the people that came back here, that’s what we were hoping for. The people that used to come to this establishment can come back and [we’ll] give them the highest quality possible of dishes that they know.”
On the menu, you’ll find a variety of pastas, salads, fish and steak options.
“Our most popular dish is the Steak Oscar. It’s a fillet over a bed of rice, asparagus and a lobster tail with bearnaise sauce,” Chris explains. “It was on the old menu with the most famous chef that worked here, Pat Hayes, her had that on his menu so I thought I’d bring it back.”
In addition to the cuisine, guests are served with a side of rich history.
“We have a lot of people ask, they want to know more,” says general manager Tyler Dubord. “[They say] ‘tell me about the House of Ludington, what’s some of the stories you know? Is it haunted, are there ghost stories?’ All that fun stuff, but they’re getting an amazing, high-level quality of food as well which is offered by the executive chef which is getting to that higher level.”
And there are ghost stories, indeed! A prominent one being that the spirit of one of the most famous owners and chefs of the establishment, Pat Hayes, roams the halls and staircases among many other ghostly friends. But, being a ghost isn’t Pat Hayes’s only claim to fame.
“Pat Hayes was from Chicago as well, and supposedly there were ties to the Chicago mafia with Al Capone and Baby Face [Nelson] that made their journey up here multiple times and his henchmen used to sit up in the turret…making sure everything was going okay outside,” says Tyler. “During the time [the] Escanaba heating system was steam tunnels that ran underneath the city, so it was easily accessible for people to move around underneath the city within those steam tunnels.”
But those…are just rumors.
“Would you sign your real name if you were part of the mafia,” Tyler said, laughing.
And while the stories are thrilling to hear, Tyler and Chris say it’s the people that keep coming over the years that make that history.
“People love to see this gem stay open and continue moving with the history beyond it, and for future newcomers that come to this restaurant,” said Tyler.
“To see it now, a full-fledged restaurant/hotel, and seeing these people flock in, sharing their memories with us, eating the food, drinking the wine…we created something and tried to make it special, but the people that come here actually make it special by enjoying it. It really, really makes us happy, and we leave with a smile on our face every night,” said Chris.
The House of Ludington restaurant is open Wednesday-Saturday 5-9 p.m. and a separate pub menu is offered on Sundays from noon-6 p.m. A fish fry menu is also offered on Fridays. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are welcomed.
And if you want to get more connected to the spooky secrets lurking through the building, psychic medium Steve Carter will be hosting a dinner show at the House of Ludington on October 28. More information and tickets can be found at houseofludington.us.