Do you want to reopen a beloved restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Here is your chance! The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, in cooperation with the National Park Service, is looking for a visionary partner to operate The Bluffs Restaurant. Renovations to the restaurant will begin this fall, and the reopening is slated for 2020. The restaurant at milepost 241 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta, N.C., was a favorite among travelers and locals alike.
The new operator of Bluffs will have the honor of carrying on the legacy created by a place that has meant so much to so many people.
Potential operators are encouraged to review the Request for Proposals (RFP) and submit their concepts by November 15, 2019. The Foundation is in the process of securing a historic lease from the National Park Service to oversee the facility.
Completed in 1949, Bluffs Restaurant was the first concession facility to provide meals on the Parkway. For 60 years, Bluffs Coffee Shop remained a favorite destination for travelers as well as community members, who came for the pan-fried chicken, ham biscuits, and friendly service. The restaurant served as an economic engine for Alleghany County and nearby towns, including Sparta.
In 2010, Forever Resorts decided not to renew its concession contract with the National Park Service. Due to the high cost of repairs needed to reopen, a new concessionaire did not come forward and the building was shuttered. Working with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, members of the community began fundraising in 2017 to rehabilitate and reopen the restaurant. Thanks to support from individuals, a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, and funding from the N.C. General Assembly and National Park Service, almost $1 million has been invested in restoring the facility and outfitting the restaurant with new equipment.
Once reopened, the operation will be one of only four food service locations on the Parkway. The scenic route welcomed more than 14 million visitors in 2018.
The Bluffs Restaurant is located in the Doughton Park Recreation Area, which is 20 minutes from Sparta, one hour from Boone, N.C., 90 minutes from Winston-Salem, N.C., and 75 minutes from Wytheville, V.A. The recreation offers a Visitor Center and Book Store (adjacent to the restaurant), campground, picnic area, hiking and horseback riding trails, and interpretive site at Brinegar Cabin.
For additional information, e-mail Carolyn Ward or call (866) 308-2773, ext. 385.