Is Iris Cafe Haunted?

Does the Iris Cafe, known for awesome Ploughman’s sandwiches and Americanos, also have a ghost in the house? A tipster alerted us to a gruesome killing in the 1980s that left 20 Columbia St. Pl. (I have a terrible sense of direction.) with a wailing phantom. Research has been inconclusive, though one local resident said, “I’d heard about the murder one night at the bar. Some guys said, ‘We took care of him.’ Then again, I could’ve been drunk.” Anyone out there know the story?

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  • WillowtownCop

    The Iris Cafe is not on Columbia Street.

  • AEB


  • Arch Stanton

    I remember a murder back around that time. The victim’s name was “Giovanni” (sp) he ran a vintage clothing/antique store either at that location or maybe it was on Hicks where the card shop is now (fuzzy)? He use to hang out a Danny’s Bar on Montague. His throat was slashed (pretty gruesome). It was rumored at the time he was mixed up in some cocaine deal and that a local by the name of William “Billy” Savage/Barns (sp) did the killing… I knew both of them, not too well though. Savage was also allegedly involved in a brutal “gay bashing” on the Promenade, that left one victim partially blind. Savage was eventually sent to prison for a stabbing in front of a night club.
    As I said my memory is kid of fuzzy so if anyone remembers different, please chime in.

  • william

    I just spoke to a neighbor who has lived on the block for 40-years. The site of the murder was 10 Columbia Place, where the Envy hair salon now is. Not the Iris Cafe.

    The murder victim was mutilated, and had a broken broom handle shoved up his butt. He thinks the incident happened in ’82 or ’83.

  • william

    Another confirmation that Giovanni (sp) murder was at 10 Columbia Place where the Envy Salon now is.

    Strangely enough, another murder occurred in the apt directly over the Envy Salon in the 80’s. The tenant, Alan Wheeler, was bludgeoned to death. His apt had been robbed.

    Alan Wheeler was also known as “Super Man” for his penchant of getting drunk and diving head-first out of his open, second floor window into the street. Alan was an agent orange victim who served in Viet Nam.

  • David on Middagh


    Tales from the “bad old days” make the recent college pranks and graffiti seem in comparison like a happy attack from a slobbery, shedding mutt.

  • my2cents

    This is a fitting thread for halloween, that’s for sure. Sheesh! I concur with David…I’ll take bike lanes over bludgeonings any day!

  • WillowtownCop

    When I moved into my apartment on Columbia Place years ago I was somewhat concerned by the bullet holes in my front window (now fixed) facing the street that had been patched with duct tape. The landlord assured me they were leftovers from the 70s and upon closer inspection, I noticed they were coming from the inside out and felt much better about the situation.

  • Arch Stanton

    How do you know the shots came from the inside?

  • nabeguy

    I remember Billy Savage…he did everything he could to live up to his name. A true psychopath…charming when called for but capable of summoning a torrent of rage that was just below the surface. None of the incidents that Arch ascribes to him surprise me, and the Promenade story he relates was well known…in fact, Billy would brag about it. I was a bit older than Billy and his posse-mates and only knew most of them on a pass-through basis, but he definitely stood out.
    Hey Arch, do you remember the epic tales of the battles with the Go Club? It was straight out of The Warriors.

  • nabeguy

    Arch, in case you don’t remember the Go Club, this might jog a memory….

  • Arch Stanton

    nabeguy, Yep Savage sure was a psychopath. I think he was resident of the St Vincent’s Boys Home or that’s how he came to be here. Anyway, I was glad when he finally went to prison.

    I vaguely remember the Go Club tales but I do remember the story of the guy who got murdered, in the link you posted.