We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda R. Woomer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda R., what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve always been interested in the paranormal ever since I had a ghostly encounter when I was seven years old. I began reading books, watching shows, and in 2004, I went on my very first “ghost hunt.” Over the next eleven years, I dabbled in paranormal investigation going on various hunts and tours at places like the East Martello Museum (home of Robert the Doll), the Farnsworth House in Gettysburg, and the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem. But it was after my brother Jed passed away in 2015 after a battle with pediatric cancer that my innocent curiosity transformed into a passion. I needed to know what happens to us once we die, and so I began to really research and investigate the paranormal. In my research, I learned that many supposedly haunted locations (especially the infamous places we see on TV) are extremely difficult to access: you might need an established team, be famous, or have a lot of money to book a location. I didn’t fall into any of those categories, so I decided to turn to haunted hospitality–restaurants, bars, and hotels that are already open to the general public with just as much history and just as many ghost stories as the places featured on paranormal reality shows. I began writing blog posts and then eventually books that focused on paranormal travel for your average everyday person. For the price of a pint of beer, an appetizer, or (if you’re brave) a room, people can potentially have a paranormal experience. My hope with Spook-Eats is to bring the paranormal to the masses and make it accessible to everyone. For too long, the paranormal has only belonged to the famous people we see on TV. But we all experience death and grief and many people question what comes next. Spook-Eats offers a road map for people to find various destinations that might give them answers to those burning questions.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The thing that makes Spook-Eats so unique in the paranormal community is our focus on restaurants, bars, and hotels. I don’t focus on the usual doom and gloom locations like jails, hospitals, and asylums. Many of the Spook-Eats locations were joyous places where people came to celebrate and have a good time. And that positive energy can be felt in the hauntings in these locations (making them more enjoyable to experience in my opinion). Spook-Eats is part food, part travel, part history, part folklore, part ghost stories… so there truly is something for everyone! My goal is to make these historic haunted locations appear less boring and dusty as they may have appeared in the past, and make them a desirable place to visit.
My focus on haunted hospitality was born out of necessity. I didn’t have a paranormal team I investigated with (I still don’t even years later). Nor did I have large sums of money to book the infamous places everyone knows about. So I went with what I knew. My first book was A Haunted Atlas of Western New York, highlighting haunted locations in my area where I lived. From there, I began to really focus on haunted restaurants, bars, and hotels. I felt that if I had a hard enough time trying to find places to investigate to find answers to my questions about the afterlife, others would be experiencing the same problem. So Spook-Eats became my solution. A place where people could go to find haunted locations accesible to them so that they may be able to continue down their spiritual path, grieving process, or just further down their curiosity rabbit hole.
For me, Spook-Eats is extremely personal. My paranormal journey is extremely personal. I am not doing this to gain followers or to get a TV show made about my adventures. I have no desire to be an influencer. I am on this journey for myself, to find answers for myself. And while I’m on my personal journey, if things I discover or encounter might help others on their journey too, then that is the cherry on top. But for me, it’s not about fame or fortune in the paranormal community, it’s about my own grieving process and helping others come to their own conclusions about what they think lies beyond our last breath. No one knows for sure, so no one should tell you what they think comes next… that’s up to you to find out. But Spook-Eats is happy to be here as your map to places that will help you find your answers.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m not from the Houston area (so I’m not sure if that’s a problem), but I’ll write about what I do know which is Buffalo, NY.
First stop would be the Merry Shelley, our very own goth bar that is dark and spooky with skeletons in the bathroom, absinthe at the bar, and a shrine to Mary Shelley. If we’re looking for a fancy hotel, we’d stay at Hotel Henry right near the Elmwood strip. If we’re looking for quiet and a bit more quaint, Graestone Manor, a beautifully haunted B&B. We’d have to make some stops at some of my favorite haunted locations like Forest Lawn Cemetery, the Ghostlight Theatre (perhaps to catch a show!), Iron Island Museum, and Eternal Flame Falls. Of course, we’d have to get drinks at the haunted Gypsy Parlor on Tutu Tuesday and end our trip at the Roycroft Inn with a delicious bowl of their lobster bisque (also haunted).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My #1 inspiration is my brother, Jed, who passed away in 2015. He was my constant companion when it came to our spooky adventures to places like Gettysburg, Salem, and Key West. He always encouraged my writing endeavors, and losing him was the final push I needed to dive headfirst into exploring and researching the spirit world. Even though he’s not physically next to me as I explore haunted locations, I know he’s always near. Everything I do, I do for him.
N/A (All my own photos)