Hurricane Katrina Victim Haunting New Orleans Burger Joint?

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NEW ORLEANS (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.


  • Esco

    Interesting story and sad too. I believe in ghosts and it very well could be Vera doing that.
    Did they ever get the drunk driver that hit her?

  • M

    The lack of seasoning that haunts this place. Buy some salt and quit grasping at excuses. SALT makes meat taste good! Go to Company Burger to taste a good burger. Not that hard bro

  • Dem

    Seriously ??? Your meat grinder quit working ? You had broken water lines and vandalism ??? That is sure signs of a haunting if I ever heard of one. My Lord you should have a exorcism !!!!! This is the stupidest thing I ever read. You're an idiot.

  • Rodd

    How is a hit and run a Hurricane Katrina victim? I don't quite remember that storm being a drunk driver. Although, it did swerve a bit before it hit us. And, also agreed, the burgers suck and they spent entirely too much money building the place.

  • Guest

    Wow, shameless self-promotion and advertising by using an innocent victim's death. Sure, her ghost is responsible for creating trouble with the city and keeping the restaurant from opening, that makes lots of sense. Water pipes in old buildings never break, vandalism never happens in New Orleans, and we all know how much ghosts HATE meat grinders! These guys are feeding off of the misfortune of dead woman and the gullibility of the general public in order to drum up more business.

  • giobravo

    Y'all don't go to an artist to have someone's spirit rest in peace. If her remains are in Tx. then go there and bring back a Shaman or Spiritual Healer. ^_^ Someone that can do whats supposed to be done so you can get to work and she can know that nobody has forgotten or stopped loving her. Even in the afterlife.

  • Sarah

    It serves them right, building that monstrosity of a building and opening that ugly bourgie ground-up-animal eatery which is meant to do nothing but serve the yuppie invaders and line their own nasty pockets. Now they want sympathy? They want some pity visits? I don’t think so. Absolute scumbags. You tore down the memorial grave of a member of our community, which hardily excludes you from it. Also, shame on WGNO for publishing this completely transparent excuse for an advertisement.

  • clay

    SHAME ON YOU!! I live in the neighborhood and do remember Miss Vera. I have heard that the food was bland there but was willing to give it a chance. NOT ANYMORE! What, if this doesn't work are you going to promote a Vera's Ghost Special next? Screw you guys and shame on WGNO for printing this tasteless act of self promotion. You guys and your monstrosity of a building can just leave town. We don't want either of you.

  • Eddie

    I went to Charcoal's. Once. It sucked. Service sucked. Food sucked. They should fix those two problems first.

  • Sean

    This is reprehensible. I absolutely will not go back to Charcoal after this selfish, disrespectful, transparent ploy. Further, I won't come back to WGNO for news until they can show they understand that this is inappropriate. That poor soul is not a marketing gimmick. Shame.

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