Remembering Ellen Woodruff Smith, beloved Bluffs Coffee Shop server


Ellen Woodruff Smith at the Bluffs Coffee Shop Ellen Woodruff Smith at the Bluffs Coffee Shop
February 22, 2024

We are so saddened to share the news that Ellen Woodruff Smith passed away on February 12. Ellen was adored by guests during her many years as a server at The Bluffs Coffee Shop at Doughton Park. Folks walked in the door asking for her before they even placed their order. She worked at the restaurant from the day it opened on May 31, 1949, to the day it closed on November 1, 2010. Many employees stayed at the Bluffs for decades, including Ellen’s dear friend and cousin, Kathryn Joines, who worked at the restaurant for 59 years. The people are truly at the heart of the Bluffs’ story.

So many who dined at the coffee shop hold on to wonderful memories of Ellen, including Julie Hettiger, who grew up visiting The Bluffs with her family and supported the restoration of the restaurant. She recalls Ellen running to bring a high chair to the table when she arrived as a child with her little yellow teddy bear Boo Boo. This lines up perfectly with Ellen’s confession that she “spoiled every youngin’ I could.”

Even after the restaurant closed, Ellen and her husband Paul received Christmas cards from friends and customers who frequented Bluffs Coffee Shop. We are thankful that Ellen and her husband Paul, who was a fixture at the restaurant, were able to see the completed restoration in recent years. Paul passed away on May 5, 2021.

We would love to hear your memories and see your photos of Ellen. To send us your Bluffs story and images, email

Read about Ellen and Paul

Obituary for Ellen Woodruff Smith