The Bluffs Restaurant: Ongoing Support

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Gold stools line the lunch counter at The Bluffs Restaurant Gold stools line the lunch counter at The Bluffs Restaurant. Photograph by David Huff

Before the effort to rehabilitate The Bluffs Restaurant, there was little that generations of loyal customers could do to help their beloved dining establishment. Today, the opportunities are twofold.

Care for the circa-1949 building

You can support this beloved destination with a donation to assist with the upkeep of the circa-1949 building.  To ensure the continued operation of The Bluffs Restaurant after its reopening in 2020, the Foundation entered into a historic lease for the National Park Service facility. As part of the agreement, we are responsible for ongoing maintenance and improvements. Your donation can help us honor this commitment and keep the restaurant from ever falling into disrepair again.

Create programming

The Bluffs is known as a must-visit destination for homestyle meals and hospitality on the Parkway. After the 10-year closure, it’s time to reintroduce neighbors and travelers to The Bluffs.  The Foundation is expanding its role at the restaurant by offering educational events and popups that celebrate heritage foodways and build community connections. With a contribution, you can guarantee The Bluffs continues to delight thousands of diners (new and longtime) with delicious food and experiences that showcase mountain culture.



The story of The Bluffs at Doughton Park

In 1949, The Bluffs became the first dining establishment to open on the Parkway. The former coffee shop welcomed generations of diners before closing in 2010.

“The Bluffs was not just a place for a wonderful meal, it was a place where memories were made on the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Foundation CEO Carolyn Ward. “Recreating that experience for those who fondly remember The Bluffs and those who never had a chance to visit is a perfect example of the Foundation’s mission to enhance the Parkway for everyone.”

In 2020, the stone and timber building underwent extensive renovations. Today, The Bluffs appears just as many remember it, with green and white checkerboard floors, a retro lunch counter with stools, and the original light fixtures. The repairs and upgrades included a new electrical system, reconstructed lunch counter, ADA-compliant restrooms, a complete kitchen equipment update, and more.

We can't thank you enough for your donations which made this revitalization possible. During the decade was closed, the facility fell into a severe state of disrepair. After many requests to reopen the restaurant, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation stepped in and began raising funds in 2016 for the rehab. A combination of donations from individuals and organizations and support from the State of North Carolina and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) made the rehabilitation of the building possible. More than 500 donors contributed to the nearly $1 million total for the project.


Learn more about The Bluffs project with this webinar:






You can follow the The Bluffs on Facebook and Instagram. Visit the website at

Additional Bluffs Resources & Information

See the Live Webcam at Doughton Park

Read about server Ellen Woodruff Smith, who worked at The Bluffs from the day it opened on May 31, 1949, to the day it closed on November 1, 2010. 

Learn more about the Cultural Landscape of Doughton Park 


We'd love to hear from you!

Do you have wonderful memories of Bluffs Coffee Shop at Doughton Park? 

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