A couple from West Virginia had an uninvited guest to dinner during a trip to New Orleans.
Ian Wrin and April Russ were visiting the Big Easy and ate at Tujague’s, the city’s second-oldest restaurant located in the French Quarter.
“(Ian and April) were dining here and they took a selfie,” said Poppy Tooker,author and Radio Host of Louisiana Eats , who just released her cookbook “Tujague’s Cookbook” that includes recipes, photos, and ghost stories from the restaurant’s archives.
Speaking to ABC’s WGNO TV, she said after the couple got home, they saw something strange in a selfie they took at the restaurant.
“When they got home and looked through the photographs, they noticed something hovering over the diners behind them, with a glowing orb and thought…what is that?!”
There are no windows or doors for a reflection to appear, according to Tooker.
“That’s Julian Eltinge! That’s Tujague’s cross-dressing ghost,” Tooker said.
As the story goes, a famous actor by the name of Julian Eltinge, who starred alongside Rudolph Valentino in the silent film, “Aisle of Love”, had a habit of dressing up like a woman. Eltinge who’s alter ego was Vesta Tilley, even had his own cosmetics line. Eltinge would dine at Begue’s Restaurant, which later became Tujague’s, and a signed autographed picture of him hung on the wall since 1917. But in 2013 the photo was removed and stored in the attic during renovations.
When the owner of Tujague’s, Mark Latter, heard about the photobomb story, he got in touch with Tooker, who was working on her book.
“I said, ‘Mark, get the photo from out of the attic and hang it back on the wall! The ghost is angry and wants to be back in the room’,” Tooker said.
The owner re-hung the photo of Eltinge back on the wall.
“Ever since the photo went back up, the cross-dressing ghost is at peace,” Tooker said.
Tujague’s, which opened in 1856 , is a New Orleans culinary institution. Over the years, it has modernized its menu, done some renovations — but many of the traditions continue. On Mondays customers can still get red beans and rice –but we recommend the red remoulade over shrimp, with a side of ghost.