This spring, the National Scenic Byway Foundation awarded the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation the 2022 Visitor Experience Award for the rehabilitation and reopening of The Bluffs Restaurant at Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Laurel Springs.
“This honor truly belongs to all the supporters who reinvigorated this long-cherished place,” said Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation Chief Development Officer Jordan Calaway, who accepted the award at a reception in Leavenworth, Kansas. “Now visitors once again have the chance to create wonderful memories at this special Parkway destination.”
In 1949, The Bluffs Coffee Shop became the first dining establishment to open on the Parkway. It welcomed generations of diners before closing in 2010. While it was shuttered, the building fell into disrepair.
In addition to National Park Service funds, individual donors, private foundations, the State of North Carolina, and the Appalachian Regional Commission together contributed nearly $1 million to the rehabilitation project through the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. The repairs and upgrades included a new electrical system, reconstructed lunch counter, ADA-compliant restrooms, new kitchen equipment, and more. Visitors to The Bluffs today will experience the restaurant as it was when it opened more than 70 years ago, with green and white checkerboard floors, a retro lunch counter, and the original light fixtures.
The Bluffs is welcoming guests for its second full season and is operated by Heritage Dining and Events under an agreement with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. The nonprofit holds a historic lease for the National Park Service facility and is responsible for ongoing maintenance and improvements.
The Bluffs Restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday through Sunday, until November 13. To learn more, visit BluffsRestaurant.org.
The National Scenic Byway Foundation is a nonprofit organization serving as The National Voice of Scenic Byways and Roads, dedicated to strengthening byways and actively involved in the quest for renewed Byway Federal funding.
Since 1997, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has provided more than $20 million in support for the Blue Ridge Parkway. A portion of that funding is made possible by sales of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation specialty license plate in North Carolina. The nonprofit is now accepting preorders for a new Parkway license plate in Virginia that will raise additional funds to enhance the national park. More information is available at GetThePlate.org.