Hurricane Katrina Victim Haunting New Orleans Burger Joint?

By: Kenny Lopez (WGNO)--
By: Kenny Lopez (WGNO)--

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WGNO)-- The guys who run one of the newer, hip burger places in town started to think that they might be possibly being haunted by the spirit of a woman who died the day after Hurricane Katrina.

Owners of Charcoal’s Gourmet Burger Bar on the corner of Magazine and Jackson streets turned to a popular New Orleans artist to help the woman’s spirit rest in peace.

Charcoal’s opened in early 2012, but before it was built, it was the burial site for Hurricane Katrina victim, Vera Smith.

At the time of her death, Smith was 65 years old. Smith was killed in a hit and run accident by a drunk driver. She was walking on the corner of Jackson and Magazine streets one night. Her body laid in the street for five days. Neighbors said she bled out into the street. Authorities ignored her body because it was their priority to tend to the living first in the aftermath of the storm. Neighbors decided to make a makeshift grave memorial for her because she was well-known in the community. The makeshift memorial sat on this property until Charcoal’s was built in 2012.

Smith’s body was later cremated and her ashes were taken to Texas and spread on her parent’s grave site. Although, she’s physically gone, Co-owner of Charcoal’s, Craig Walker said her spirit is definitely still felt.

“I think there’s a strong sense of the after-life in New Orleans. Many believe in voodoo and spirits here,” he said.

Charcoal’s certainly hasn’t had it easy. Business is slow, and there have been plenty of mishaps and problems which aren’t entirely understood.

“Our brand new meat grinder went out the first week we opened,” he said.

Other mishaps include: broken waterlines, vandalism, and fighting with the city to open their doors.

Walker said that they want to put all the mishaps behind them and get a fresh start and move forward with success.

“Our message to Vera is our heart and soul is in this restaurant. We want you to support us,” Walker said.

Walker turned to famous New Orleans artist, Simon Hardeveld, whose gallery sits next door to Charcoal’s to help. He asked Simon if he could get rid of Vera’s “bad vibes” by building an artistic memorial peace fountain for her, which is now placed outside their building, where she was killed.

“She was not a sad woman. She had a very good life. In the neighborhood, everyone knew her and loved her,” Hardeveld said.

This artist hopes his peace fountain for Vera will make her happy and that Charcoal’s can now be successful.

Posted by Greg Palmer


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