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Update January 2008
The following was sent in by one of our readers:
My dad use to be one of the owners of the old Hsin Kuang Restaurant, and I practically grew up at that place up until it closed down. I can confirm that prior to being Hsin Kuang, the building was an old Chinese morgue / funeral home, and than it was later turned into a Mongolian hot-pot restaurant. When Hsin Kuang bought the building in 1984, the Mongolian restaurant was already closed; however, in the basement, there was an old tavern that was still open. The tavern's entrance was on the St. Andrew side of the street. Hsin Kuang rebuilt the whole building and the tavern in the basement moved out. At that time Hsin Kuang occupied 3 floors including the basement. Even before Hsin Kuang opened its doors, we were told that there were a lot of paranormal activities in the building, especially in the basement tavern.
The owners did consult with Fung Shui masters with specific alterations to the design of the interior and the outside. The pair of lions had been outside the Spadina entrance ever since the beginning (and yes, it was for Fung Shui purposes). Contrary to what people thought, the main entrance was actually the door facing St. Andrew St. The restaurant was never cursed and it actually did very well for a number of years. The downtown Hsin Kuang was the flag ship, and the owners later opened one in Scarborough, one in King St. theater district and one in China City in Mississauga. The corporation later went public and the downfall was due to mismanagement at the Hong Kong headquarters.
As for paranormal activities. I have never personally encountered any; however, I always feel uncomfortable down in the basement level and the area near the 2nd floor washrooms. I have however heard of a few incidents from the staff of the restaurant.
My brother, who was working at the restaurant at that time was invited to a banquet which was held in the basement. He went to the basement washroom and when he finished his business, he proceeded to wash his hands at the sink. The mirror above the sink reflects off of the two cubicles located across. At that time the doors were closed; however, from the corner of his eyes he saw something black skimming across the top of the cubicles. My brother looked up, and saw a naked child crouched, jumping back and forth between the two cubicles (between the partition that separates the two cubicles). He specifically remembers that the child was laughing like he was having fun, but cannot hear any sound. Needless to say, my brother rushed out in a hurry.
The second was from a female cashier of the restaurant. The second floor washroom is actually located at the annex of the restaurant. When you were on the second floor dinning area, you actually had to walk up a narrow staircase to get to the landing where the washrooms are. Behind these washrooms is actually where the office and staff change rooms are located; hence a lot of staff uses the two washrooms there before or after their shifts. It was said that the female cashier had just gotten off her shift and was getting ready to leave. She stopped by to use the washroom before she went to the change room. She sat down on one of the toilets and was doing her business when she felt a tingling sensation on the back of her neck. She thought it was a draft or maybe even a bug, so she brushed it off and continued her business. A few seconds later, she felt it again, but it was a very cold feeling, and it felt very physical. She turned around and saw that there was a very pale hand sticking out of the wall right above the toilet tank. She got so scared she fell forward and was trying to unlock the door to get out. Like any other good horror flick, she had a hard time opening the lock, and more of the hand started showing up. By the time she unlocked the door and crawled out to the sink area to help herself up, she saw a Chinese woman with long black hair in a red dress floating out of the wall (I wonder if it was the same spirit that one of the posters wrote about). She was expressionless and seemed like she was floating towards the cashier. The cashier ran out of there (with her skirt down) and bolted down the restaurant. She never came back to work after that, and she told this to another cashier who visited her at her home to find out what had happened.
The third incident happened when one of the senior managers had realized he had forgotten something very important at the restaurant after a night out. By the time he got to the restaurant it was close to 3:00am. He unlocked the shutter and immediately heard noise from within the restaurant. He described it as sounding like a big party. He thought someone had broke in and decided to proceed cautiously. He unlocked the glass doors and went inside, and the whole time he still heard the voices / noises. The lights were off with the exception of a few inside the dinning area on the ground floor; however, he quickly realized that the noises came from the basement.
The staircase going down the basement was actually sort of like a spiral staircase and you can't really see what was happening down there. He saw that the lights were on and that it sounded like there was a big party down in the basement with clanking of glasses and cheers and footsteps. He yelled down the stairs to see if someone would reply (he now thinks that it was likely to be another manager who was having an unauthorized party at the restaurant). All the noise stopped and it got very quiet.
He went down thinking that he will see one of his colleagues all drunk; however, when he reached the bottom there were not a single person in the dinning area. The lights were on, the chairs were everywhere, and the table settings (they usually set the table for dim sum service the night before) were all messed up. He got so scared and quickly went back upstairs. He closed the glass door and locked the shutter behind him and went home.
Ever since Hsin Kuang closed down, I have not heard anything from there since. However, I know that it is very known in the Chinese community that the restaurant is haunted because every time a friend of mine realizes that my dad was one of the owners of the restaurant, they will always ask me if it is true that the restaurant is haunted. As I said, I've never encountered anything there; however, I have no reason to think that the eye witness accounts above were made up."
Our thanks to our reader for sharing this with us.