Restaurant operator sought for The Bluffs

Photo by David Huff

Bluffs Kitchen.jpg

The newly updated kitchen at The Bluffs The newly updated kitchen at The Bluffs Restaurant
February 17, 2021

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is seeking a partner to operate The Bluffs Restaurant starting this spring and continuing through fall. The restaurant is located within Doughton Park at milepost 241 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Bluffs was a favorite among Parkway visitors and operated for more than 60 years before closing in 2010. Last year, the 80-seat restaurant underwent extensive interior renovations in order to welcome diners back.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to bring back to life one of only four restaurants on the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “The fully renovated space is ready for an innovative operator with a passion for food and providing wonderful experiences for park visitors.” 

The repairs and upgrades include new state-of-the-art kitchen equipment, ADA-compliant restrooms, all new plumbing, wiring, light fixtures, HVAC systems, and more. The fixtures and design features were selected to replicate the original look of the restaurant. For many visitors, The Bluffs will appear just as they remember it, with timber beams, green and white checkerboard floors, and a classic lunch counter. 

A new video released by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation celebrates the community’s support for the nearly $1 million rejuvenation of the restaurant. The short piece also showcases the history of the restaurant, including its construction as the first visitor service offered on the Parkway.  The video, created by Bonesteel Films, can be viewed at Youtube.com/BlueRidgeParkwayFoundation and BluffsRestaurant.org.

“The rebirth of The Bluffs can really be attributed to the local community saying ‘we miss this icon,’” said Kevin Brandt, Project Manager for the Foundation. 

The restaurant is a key attraction within the 6,300-acre Doughton Park recreation area, a popular destination which includes a visitor information center & bookstore, picnic area, scenic overlooks, comfort stations, a campground with tent and RV sites, a primitive camping area, hiking and horseback riding trails, and historical cabins. 

The Bluffs is a seasonal operation, typically open from May through October. The nonprofit Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation holds a historical lease for this National Park Service facility and is responsible for ongoing maintenance and improvements. It is 20 minutes from Sparta, N.C., one hour from Boone, N.C., 90 minutes from Winston-Salem, N.C., and 75 minutes from Wytheville, V.A. 

Additional features include WiFi service and a 24/7 webcam view from the facility at BRPFoundation.org/webcams. More than 4,000 people have followed the restaurant's page on Facebook, showing their support as repairs progressed and eagerly awaiting the chance to return to the iconic eatery. The operation also has an established website, BluffsRestaurant.org.

Parties interested in operating The Bluffs should contact Brandt at kbrandt@brpfoundation.org or (828) 575-3681.

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