The Church Street Cafe

The Church Street Café, also called Casa de Ruiz, is located in Old Town Albuquerque and has a long history, most of which has been lost due to the passage of time. It was built during the founding of Albuquerque during the early 1700s, making Casa de Ruiz the oldest residence in the city. The house has never been sold and has remained in the Ruiz family since the early 18th century. The house has undergone some renovations to make it a cozy café, serving New Mexico style cuisine.

My best friend Monique Castillo, who is an enthusiast for haunted places, recommended this Café to me not only because it was rumored to be haunted but also because it was affordable on our college budget. The little restaurant was packed when we visited on Oct. 6, but we were seated next to an antique wood-burning stove. Most of the reported hauntings of the café happened to Maria Coleman, who became the new owner after Rufina Ruiz, the last living member of the Ruiz family, passed away. It’s said that the spirit of Sara Ruiz inhabited the home and during the renovation process, Coleman had seen a female apparition, heard screams, and tools being moved around the house constantly interrupted the construction team. I had heard a rumor from our waiter that during the renovations, when the wood boards were replaced with tiles, a grave had been unearthed. This was later confirmed by the hostess, Maria Rodriguez, who said, “The house is over 300 years old and there are many undiscovered, unmarked graves in Old Town. Back then, they used to bury people in the property to protect them. The casket was never opened, though. We had a priest come and direct how we should proceed.” Within the hacienda is the Sara Room, named to honor her spirit.

Overall, Church Street Café was a pleasant and popular place. Castillo was more unnerved by the Native American headdress on art display, rather than the actual house. I, on the other hand, had the sensation that someone was sitting on my back the whole time we were eating. It was like a sore spot right on my spine, and it didn’t begin until I was inside the house. I’m skeptical about hauntings but there is something unnerving about stepping into a house that has seen 300 years of history. Visiting historical places like Casa de Ruiz is always interesting, even if you don’t believe in the ghost that lives there.