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About The Bluffs

In 1949, The Bluffs became the first dining establishment to open on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For 61 years, locals and Blue Ridge Parkway travelers flocked to the restaurant at Doughton Park for fried chicken, sweet potato pancakes, ham biscuits, berry cobblers, and more.

Friendly service brought diners back time and time again. Many folks will remember waitress Ellen Smith, who worked at the restaurant for decades. One patron fondly remembers how Miss Ellen always pulled up a high chair for her teddy bear on each Sunday visit.

Sadly, the restaurant closed on November 1, 2010, after a new concessionaire did not step forward to operate the National Park Service property. Over the years, the building fell into disrepair, and it began to look like The Bluffs might not welcome diners ever again.

Bringing Back The Bluffs

Loyal patrons didn’t forget about The Bluffs. After numerous requests to take on the project, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation began raising funds in 2016 to repair and restore the restaurant. Thanks to support from individuals, the State of North Carolina, and the Appalachian Regional Commission, the restaurant has undergone a transformation, including a new roof and kitchen equipment, a freshly painted interior, an ADA-compliant restroom, and a rebuilt dining counter.

The team has worked diligently to keep the original charm of the former coffee shop by restoring the existing features, such as painstakingly cleaning and polishing the period light fixtures. All of the design choices work to capture the charm of the original interior, while bringing the 1949 facility into the new millennium.

We hope you enjoy making memories with family and friends at The Bluffs once again.

A Partnership

Beginning in 2023, Cal Ledbetter of The Bluffs Restaurant, LLC, will manage the restaurant. Ledbetter worked in fast food, seafood, fine dining and cruise line operations during his student years at Florida State University, obtaining his bachelor’s degree. He later worked on the management team of the B-Line Diner inside the Peabody Orlando/Hyatt Regency Hotel. A 24-hour diner and bakery with 50 employees, the diner’s sales across from the convention center made it one of the busiest restaurants in the United States. His career includes travel and nonprofit work in event planning, human resources, and building teams for companies such as Red Lobster.


The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation holds a historic lease for the National Park Service facility and will be responsible for ongoing maintenance and improvements. The National Park Service (NPS) has the authority to lease historic buildings and other structures through public-private partnerships to help preserve and maintain the NPS's historical assets for future generations to use and enjoy.

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The Bluffs Champions

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation would like to thank all the donors, organizations, businesses, agencies, and groups who are making it possible to reopen The Bluffs Restaurant at Doughton Park. The amazing generosity of those supporters made it possible to revitalize this cherished destination along America’s Favorite Journey. 

You Can Help, Too!

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the primary fundraising partner for the Parkway, providing support for initiatives along the 469-mile route, including historical and cultural preservation, environmental protection, visitor amenities, and education and outreach. You can join our efforts to protect this national park unit with a gift today.

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