J. Bruner's will haunt no more as of Jan. 2
New Year’s Day will be your last chance to dine at the spookiest restaurant in town since 1964.
Patrick Boylan said he is closing J. Bruner's at The Haunted House, 7171 Miramar Dr., effective Jan. 2.
The converted Carriker mansion operated as The Haunted House from 1964 to 2015 until co-founder Marian Thibault passed away.
Boylan purchased the restaurant lock, stock and barrel at an auction in the spring of 2015 and reopened under the new name on July 4 the same year.
The restaurant was born of tragedy. In 1963, the property belonged to Martin Carriker, a 74-year-old retired automobile dealer. On June 1 of that year, Carriker was found lying dead in the high brush near his home, a bullet from a .22 rifle fired through the base of his skull.
But that was only the first death on the Carriker estate that year.
Carriker’s 54-year-old stepdaughter Margaret Pearson, along with two handymen, were charged with Carriker’s murder, but before she could go on trial her mother, Clara Carriker, 72, was found deceased on the property. The coroner ruled her death was from natural causes.
One of the accused field hands told the police three different stories, costing him credibility on the witness stand at Pearson’s trial, leading to her acquittal and leaving Carriker’s death an unsolved crime to this day.
But Pearson’s freedom came at a cost as the estate went into foreclosure. The day the sale was to be finalized, shortly before Valentine’s Day of 1964, a workman thought he heard water running inordinately in the house and went in to investigate. He found Pearson dead of an apparent drug overdose.
Less than five months later, the Persian rugs, oil paintings, hand-painted china, Austrian dinner service, fine linens and large bow-front Victorian chest were sold at an estate sale. The country estate built of native stone in 1935 stood empty.
E.J. “Catfish” Davis purchased the Carriker estate at a sheriff’s auction with plans to convert the mansion into a nightclub and restaurant. An oil man by trade, Davis turned to young operator named Art Thibault with whom he shared a Minnesota heritage. Thibault was manager of the original Jack Sussy’s Italian Food and Steak House on North Lincoln, a place Davis frequented along with most of the prairie town’s nouveau riche.
Thibault, who came to Oklahoma by way of the Air Force and Tinker Field, operated the place with his wife Marian until his death in 1994. In 2001, the heirs of Catfish Davis agreed to sell the property to Marian Thibault, she said in a 2009 interview with the Oklahoman.
Over the years, The Haunted House has played host to celebrities like Bob Hope, Liberace, Neil Young, Sarah Ferguson, Paul Harvey, Lauren Bacall, Dan Blocker, Mickey Mantle and George W. Bush.
After purchasing the restaurant in 2015, Boylan reopened in July under the name J. Bruner’s at The Haunted House to match the name of a steakhouse he owns in Osage Beach, Mo. Boylan said he was open to the idea of others trying their hand at operating the restaurant and that anyone interested in taking it on should call him at the restaurant.
For inquiries or reservations for one last dinner in the iconic dining room, call 478-1417.