The Hope and Anchor English Pub can boast the title of one of “Rockford’s Oldest Restaurants”, especially now that Maria’s is closed. It is also one of the most haunted, at least according to owner Kreena Robbins. Kreena and her husband, Ian have been the owners for almost 6 years now and they really embrace the fact that their place is haunted.
The Robbins’ purchased the old “Mayflower Restaurant” that had claims to fame for fine dining since the 1930’s. Eddie Armstrong owned the restaurant back in the spring of 1936, coming here from Beloit where he ran the clubs “613” and “The Butterfly”. During Eddie’s time the restaurant was known for the steaks served there, and for its orchestra and dance floor. Delbert White ran it in the 1940’s and it became very popular with social organizations as a location to host their meetings and business luncheons.
Officially, Anthony Salamone bought the Mayflower from Ted Roell and Bud Flodin in 1968, though according to Kreena, that may not be what really happened. Flodin and Roell purchased the restaurant in June 1968, and less than six months later, turned it over to Salamone. Kreena suspects that Tony actually won the restaurant in a card game.
Food must have been in the Salamone blood. Tony’s family came from a small village on the outskirts of Venice, Italy. They moved to Rockford in 1911 and Carl, the father, decided to open up a delicatessen shop in the front of his home on Kent Street. He sold spaghetti, fresh and dried fruits, and dried meats. Carl soon wanted to expand and started to sell fresh meat for much cheaper than the other markets in Rockford. The shop was very popular, and in 1914 the family was able to purchase a store at 1210 South Main Street. By 1922, they had 5 different markets throughout the city.
The whole family was prosperous and however Tony actually acquired the restaurant, he continued the successful tradition of his family. But the success of the restaurant itself seemed to end with Tony’s ownership. In fact, the Mayflower went through so many financial problems people started to say that it might be cursed! Between the years of 2004 and 2009, the restaurant had seven different owners and a few different names.
Kreena and Ian knew there was something unique about their location almost from the very start. Almost from the beginning, they heard footsteps going up and down the stairs and then the sound of someone pacing in the office area above the bar. They stored extra glassware in a basement room, and every day they would find glasses broken on the floor. Kreena explains, “We don’t keep them down there anymore.”
There are also tales of someone playing tricks on people in the bathrooms. Sometimes when staff is in the building when no guests are present, they will hear the sound of the faucets turning on. People who knew Tony Salamone always mention that he loved to play tricks on people. He also liked women, especially attractive blondes. According to Haunted Rockford psychics, Paul Smith and Sara Bowker, he still does.
Sometimes, if there is a blonde in the woman’s room, Tony might pull her hair or if she is really lucky, according to Kreena, he might swat her behind.
One thing is sure, whether you come for the unique menu, the great music, or, (if you are really bold), for the ghosts, you are always certain to get more than you expect at the Hope and Anchor English Pub.
Haunted Rockford will be hosting a unique event at the Hope and Anchor on Friday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m.. Kathi Kresol will entertain guests with Twisted Love Stories of Doomed Romance and Kreena will join in with tales of her first hand experiences with the spirits (yes, there are more than one!) that linger at the pub. The price for this event is $20.00 in advance. For more information, please visit https://www.hauntedrockford.com/event/twisted-love-at-the-hope-and-anchor-pub/
Copyright © 2015 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events