Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


What’s on tap: Ghosts of mob victims emerge from secret tunnels at Madison bars

Ohio Tavern, Wonder Bar and Great Dane all experience supernatural door closings, phone ringing
Marissa Haegele
Wonder Bar.

It’s a highly disputed topic: Are ghosts real? Many people say yes, and many people say no. Whether you like to believe it or not, they’re all over town, at least according to one of the directors of Madison Ghost Walks, Matt Huberty.

Huberty, an expert on local folklore relating to the supernatural, knows where people can expect to see a supernatural spirit. One thing that may be surprising is that spectres can be at a lot of local bars.

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Ohio Tavern

The Ohio Tavern, located at 224 Ohio Ave. on the east side, has had a presence of hauntings for quite some time. Huberty said that the bar used to be a popular hangout on for factory workers of the area, and now their spirits haunt the establishment.


Kim Matz, a bartender for Ohio, confirms that this is indeed true.

“Doors that are closed will fling open, pool balls will roll across the tables when no one’s playing [and] you can even feel someone brush up against you when not a single person is around,” Matz said.

Matz said there are as many as five ghosts that haunt the Tavern, and she even has a name for the one that is always with her during the day: Ollie.

But, she insists, they’re completely playful, and mean no one any harm.

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Wonder Bar

The Wonder Bar Steakhouse, near Alliant Energy Center, has quite the stories behind its paranormal activity. Huberty said that the Wonder Bar used to be called the Bar Next Door, and in the 20’s and 30’s, was the location of a speakeasy.

From this time period, Huberty said, there are allegedly tunnels that run underneath the establishment to the lake, and this is the source of the hauntings.

“The spirits of people murdered by members of the mob down underneath the speakeasy supposedly haunt it to this day,” Huberty said.

But, Brent Vinney, the Wonder Bar manager, said he’s never seen anything in his five years in working at the establishment. Despite this, he has heard all of the stories, and thinks that they are indeed true.

“I had a media friend come in one time — without telling him about the supposed spirits — and I took him to the basement to check it all out,” Vinney said. “When he stepped on the third last step, he immediately fell against the wall and said he felt like he was being choked. The weird thing is, there has always been a story floating around of a woman who was murdered on those stairs back in the ’30s.”

Another story that Vinney has repeatedly heard from customers and other workers is the story of a ghost of a man in a long trenchcoat, counting money.

While he’s never seen any of them himself, Vinney said he definitely thinks they exist and they’re out there in the bar.

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Great Dane

The Great Dane Brewing Company’s downtown location near Capitol Square wasn’t always the Brewpub it is now. Huberty said the location was first a hotel in the 1850s, and eventually was also used as office space too. It was when this office space was opened, he said, that weird activities started.

“There have been reports that back when these office spaces opened, phone calls would come from rooms that didn’t exist anymore,” Huberty said. “What made this really weird was that in those times, you had switchboard operators connect the caller to whomever it was they were calling. So, if the room didn’t exist, the switchboard operator wouldn’t even connect the calls from these rooms.”

This isn’t where the weird happenings stopped, either. Huberty said when he’s spoken with workers from the establishment, many of them have told him they hate closing alone, because they always hear doors opening on their own, even ones that are supposedly locked.

There’s also a room in the basement of the Great Dane near the restrooms that Huberty refers to as “The Spooky Room,” which is something that people just have to find out for themselves.

No matter whether you believe in the supernatural or not, it’s worth checking these places out. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see a ghost.

Seeing as it’s Halloween, I thought I’d need to try a fitting beer for the season, and luckily got my hands on one of 3 Floyd’s best beers: Zombie Dust. 


American Pale Ale, 6.2 percent


Intense citrus and floral hops come through strong.


Burnt orange with a solid white head


Aroma transfers well, with a great taste of citrus kicking in and a softer fruity flavor that follows 

Room Temperature Taste


Doesn’t change much. Citrus stays strong throughout.


Excellent American IPA. A little strong up front, but overall very nice balance and a great year-round option.

Rating: 4.25/5

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