; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Jim Morrison Said to Haunt L.A. Restaurant Restroom

aolnews - July 3 marks 39 years since Jim Morrison, the deep-voiced front man for the band The Doors, was found dead in an apartment bathtub in Paris, France.

But that doesn't mean "The Lizard King" isn't still making the rounds in one of his former West Hollywood haunts.

As devout fans gather at his Parisian grave this weekend, looking for signs of the brooding singer and poet's spirit, they might be better served if they visited a Mexican restaurant at 8512 Santa Monica Blvd.

"You feel it here almost every day, throughout the entire place, but especially near this spot," says Christina Arena, general manager of Mexico, a colorfully festive restaurant that's been open about a year.

And just what spot does Arena refer to?

The unisex restroom.

You see, the building Mexico occupies was formerly "The Doors Workshop," an office space/crash pad/recording studio used by the band in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

And the restroom? It was the actual vocal booth where Jim Morrison recorded the classic "L.A. Woman" in 1970.

Today, a framed plaque featuring the album cover, gold record and hand-scrawled lyrics hangs outside the famous john. Fans come from all over the world to pay homage to Morrison at this sacred site, and they may get more than they bargained for.

"His presence hangs very heavy here," Arena says. "It gets eerie sometimes."

"Jim Morrison is definitely still here," office manager Christine Chilcote agrees. "Funky things happen all the time we can't explain. Lights popping on and off at weird times. But when that bathroom door handle jiggles by itself, that's the weirdest sign. It's totally inexplicable."

Well-known chef and restaurateur Larry Nicola, who opened Mexico last year, has created an authentic, south-of-the-border atmosphere using bright fiesta colors and fun outdoor decorations that make it seem as if a giant pinata exploded nearby.

He's also a huge Doors fan, so he understands that some customers may initially arrive to feast on memories of Morrison before ordering up some of Mexico's mouth-watering Mexican specialties (or one of their famous margaritas, like a "Cadillac Eldorado With Pink Fins" or a "Screamer").

"One of my favorite bands," Nicola says. "We knew what had happened here before we came in, and it's important for us to preserve the memories. It's incredible to think about what took place here."

Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger was even in recently to reminisce about the hazy, crazy "L.A. Woman" days spent at this very site.

"His spirit is here for sure," Nicola said without a hint of doubt.

"The building moans and breathes and makes sounds I can't explain," Nicola says. "We had someone come in before we opened up, to do a 'spiritual cleaning' to try and put everything at peace, but in the end they told us, 'Sorry, whatever is here is not leaving.'

"So we said, 'Cool. It's Jim's place, too. We're fine with that.' I hear it from guests all the time, especially the serious Doors fans. They know he's still here."

Nicola's daughter, Michaela, also works in Mexico. While giving a recent tour of the restaurant to AOL News, she said she understood from day one that they have a special guest who never leaves.

"I felt it from the beginning, and even though it can get a little weird sometimes, we love it. It's a special, unique history this building holds, and we honor it."

Sitting upstairs in Mexico's cozy open-air lounge, she adds, "I think if he was still alive today in body, this would be the place that would serve Jim Morrison's favorite margaritas. But we have Jim Morrison in spirit, and so we just have to be happy with that."

Jim Morrison Said to Haunt L.A. Restaurant Restroom

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