Dining With the Departed at the Historic LaBinnah Bistro
The LaBinnah Bistro is located in an 1870 Victorian home at 207 N. 5th Street, part of Hannibal’s historic Millionaires’ Row. The restaurant is well-known for offering fine Mediterranean cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. Many Hannibal residents are also aware that this location was where the respected businessman Amos J. Stillwell played euchre with his own murderer, Dr. Joseph C. Hearne, a few hours before his death on the evening of December 30, 1988.
During the time that co-owners Chris Bobek and Arif Dagin have been running LaBinnah Bistro, there have been many occurrences of paranormal activity experienced at LaBinnah, as well as several investigations conducted over the years.
When the Bistro first opened, an apartment on the second floor was rented to a lady from New Orleans for a short period of time. According to the book Chasing Shadows by Larry Wilson, the tenant “witnessed a translucent figure moving hurriedly across the dining area” one evening. The figure transformed into a “glowing, blue dot” and then vanished in front of her eyes. She moved out shortly after the incident. Only a few weeks later, another guest captured an image of a child-like figure looking out of the front door glass with her camera. The figure looked remarkably comparable to the one witnessed in the dining area.
In 2009, Arif moved into the apartment above the LaBinnah Bistro by himself. He often heard noises and footsteps, but just ignored them for the most part.
The first incident that seemed very odd to Arif concerned Chris’s dog, Jungle. Arif was sitting on the couch when Jungle walked over and appeared to be responding to someone sitting next to Arif on the couch. During the time that Jungle was in LaBinnah, his energy level appeared to be very low. Now that he lives in another location, he is much more active and energetic.
A lot of activity centers on a closet off of the living room area in the upstairs apartment. The closet door will often open and close by itself. Sometimes several times in one day, and then nothing will happen for several months.
One evening when Arif had friends over to the apartment to enjoy a movie night, the entire group heard a loud commotion coming from the closet. They then watched the doorknob turning back and forth by itself. The door opened, the air turned very cold, and everyone expected something to come out into the room. They didn’t see anyone, but Arif’s dog, Milo, began to act very strangely.
Milo arose from the rug he was lying on and walked over to the closet door and appeared to be looking at someone. The dog then began to run up and down the hallway as if he was playing with someone. He was very happy and excited and having a good time. After a while, Milo seemed to follow his playmate back into the living room to the closet door. Milo then sighed and returned to his place on the rug.
Arif explained that some of the scariest activity experienced concerned the mimicking of their voices by something. Several years ago, Arif was downstairs in the laundry room taking tablecloths out of the dryer when he felt a presence behind his neck and heard someone speak his name. The voice sounded exactly like his partner, Jim’s, but the “r” was rolled. Not only does Jim not roll the “r,” but he was not even in the house at the time.
Several psychics have visited LaBinnah over the years. More than one has mentioned a child by the name of Nathanial. They do agree that the paranormal energy in the area is positive and nothing to be feared.
During a séance conducted at a table in the restaurant a few years ago, a friendly entity visited who said his name was George. I know that Mr. George Paschal and his wife lived at the location during the late 1970s because I rented an apartment from them that was once the old carriage house located behind the main home.
Arif shared with me that he doesn’t necessarily believe the paranormal activity experienced at LaBinnah Bistro is caused by ghosts. He knows the activity is paranormal, but there could be other explanations such as reverberations from the past.