New operator to manage historic establishment at Doughton Park on Blue Ridge Parkway
The Bluffs Restaurant at Doughton Park, milepost 241 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, will reopen for the season on Friday, May 26, with a new team managing operations. Cal Ledbetter of The Bluffs Restaurant, LLC, will manage the restaurant.
“This is a huge opportunity to serve the local community and Parkway visitors from all over,” said Ledbetter. “We invite folks to come for a hearty breakfast before a day of hiking or a glass of iced tea and dessert at sunset after a day of trekking.”
The restaurant will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday-Tuesday, and Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday. It will be closed on Wednesdays. The menu will feature perennial homestyle favorites, nutritious sandwiches and snacks, and a diverse variety of seasonal specials.
Ledbetter worked in fast food, seafood, fine dining and cruise line operations during his student years at Florida State University, obtaining his bachelor’s degree. He later worked on the management team of the B-Line Diner inside the Peabody Orlando/Hyatt Regency Hotel. A 24-hour diner and bakery with 50 employees, the diner’s sales across from the convention center made it one of the busiest restaurants in the United States. His career includes travel and nonprofit work in event planning, human resources, and building teams for companies such as Red Lobster.
The Bluffs became the first dining establishment to open on the Parkway in 1949. The former coffee shop welcomed generations of diners before closing in 2010. Individual donors, the State of North Carolina, and the Appalachian Regional Commission contributed nearly $1 million to the rehabilitation of the restaurant through the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. The National Park Service also provided funding for the project. The repairs and upgrades included a new electrical system, reconstructed lunch counter, ADA-compliant restrooms, a complete kitchen equipment update, and more. The restaurant reopened for its first full season in 2021.
Ledbetter will operate the historical restaurant under an agreement with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. The nonprofit holds a historic lease for the National Park Service facility and will be responsible for ongoing maintenance and improvements.