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'Gourmet Ghosts' finds scary stories in LA landmarks

"Gourmet Ghosts" author James Bartlett

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Maybe Yelp is your first stop when looking for a place to grab a drink. Or maybe you leave it to writers and critics. But, if you'd rather read a ghost story than a food review when deciding on a place for your next night out, "Gourmet Ghosts" is the book for you. 

When "Gourmet Ghosts" author James Bartlett came to L.A. from London about 10 years ago, he says he couldn't find the city guide book he was looking for. "I was looking for something with some interesting stories, some unusual stories, maybe ghostly stories, something certainly about history as well. ... And I couldn't really find anything," Bartlett says. 

So Bartlett wrote his own. Packed with the mystery, murders and ghost stories surrounding more than 40 local bars and restaurants, "Gourmet Ghosts" takes a historical look at some of L.A.'s best haunts, like the Roosevelt in Hollywood, Mid-City's El Carmen and the Redwood Bar and Grill downtown. 

Located near the L.A. Times building, the Redwood has hosted lawyers, bail bondsmen, politicians like Bobby Kennedy and Richard Nixon, and, not surprisingly, hundreds of journalists.

So many L.A. Times reporters frequented the bar that, for several years, the Times paid for a direct phone line to the Redwood. And that bright red phone still hangs on the wall by the door at the Redwood. "It was installed by the L.A. Times so they could call across to here to get ahold of a reporter or photographer — because they were in here so often. Up until a couple of years ago, it was still live," Bartlett says, "It even has an extension number on it."

These days the Redwood has a charming nautical theme, and they keep the lights dim enough that it's easy to imagine an apparition sitting in one of their high-topped booths. And Bartlett has plenty of paranormal stories to tell in his book, too. Like the "tall man in the gray suit" who lurks in the Redwood's basement, or unnatural shifts in light and shadow. 

From "Gourmet Ghosts":

"The days of booze-soaked journalists may have gone, and more hipsters than pirates prop up the bar these days, but no matter where you're headed it's worth coming on board the Redwood."

Visit the "Gourmet Ghosts" website to find where you can pick up the book in L.A. — just in time for Halloween.