8512 Santa Monica Boulevard

Allegedly Haunted: 8512 Santa Monica Blvd.

Posted on Posted in Haunted L.A.

Allegedly haunted: 8512 Santa Monica Blvd.

Prior to the short-lived L’Scorpion nightclub, the address was the home of the Mexico Restaurante Y Barra, and before that, it was the Benvenuto Café. However, the location is best known for being The Doors’ recording studio in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In July of 2010, a ghost story surfaced on the Internet back when the building was still the Mexico Restaurante Y Barra. Although I doubt that Jim Morrison’s ghost haunts the men’s room (as the article implies), the location still struggles to find a successful tenant:

Jim Morrison’s Ghost Said to Haunt Restaurant Bathroom

By Chris Epting
Jul 1, 2010 – 12:32 PM 

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.

Mexico Restaurant
Mexico Restaurant, circa 2009-2010.

Mexico is a Los Angeles restaurant that once housed The Doors’ recording studio where Jim Morrison recorded “L.A. Woman”; the bathroom was once the vocal booth.”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? 

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. 

The L.A. Woman sessions. Photo:
The L.A. Woman sessions. Photo: http://www.podwits.com/

Today, a framed plaque featuring the album cover, gold record and hand-scrawled lyric 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.

This plaque hangs outside the restroom at Mexico restaurant in Los Angeles.”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.”

This restroom at Mexico was once the vocal booth of The Doors’ recording studio. And Nicola also senses the presence of Morrison.

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.”

 

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