The Bluffs Restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway has closed for the year, just five days after its grand opening. Shana Whitehead, a co-owner of Muddy Creek Enterprises, which operates The Bluffs, said Thursday that a combination of factors prompted the decision to close, but that no employees or customers have tested positive for COVID-19 to her knowledge.
A problem with a clogged pipe last weekend forced the restaurant to lose several days of business after Saturday’s grand opening.
“And we did have one employee who had a cold, which stopped us in our tracks,” Whitehead said. That employee got a COVID-19 test and the results were negative, Whitehead said, but it made her think twice about continuing to operate during the pandemic.
The grand opening drew a crowd and created lines of customers, many of whom are in an older, high-risk group.
“We have to be so careful with staff and guests; it’s just very challenging,” Whitehead said.
The Bluffs, at Milepost 241 next to Doughton Park Visitors Center, is a seasonal operation, and was scheduled to close Oct. 31 this year. “Since we had only two months this year, we just decided it would be safer to wait till next year.”
Whitehead and partner Bill Heath also operate Muddy Creek Café in Winston-Salem and Sparta, both of which have been closed during the pandemic.
Whitehead said she does expect to reopen Muddy Creek in Sparta this fall, after the town finishes work on the street in front of the building.
The Bluffs, which operated on the parkway from 1949 to 2010, is owned by the National Park Service. The nonprofit Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation recently financed the renovation of the restaurant, and the park service accepted Muddy Creek Enterprises’ bid to operate it.
The foundation said in a statement that it will plan a second grand opening in the spring of 2021.
For more information, visit BluffsRestaurant.org.
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