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A North Carolina inn operator's legal complaint prompted the National Park Service to allow attractions to reopen.
The Roanoke Times | File
Mabry Mill is in Meadows of Dan, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and offers scenic beauty along with historical exhibits.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
After being closed for 10 days because of the federal government shutdown, the Mabry Mill restaurant and gift shop was being readied Thursday afternoon for reopening.
“We should be open and serving pancakes at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning,” Karen Radcliff said late Thursday. Her North Carolina-based company operates the restaurant and gift shop along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Meadows of Dan . “My general manager is on her way here. If we have to work through the night, we will to get our doors open by 8 a.m.”
Mabry Mill will reopen today and the Peaks of Otter Lodge in Bedford County could be open by this weekend under agreements with the National Park Service, which had ordered parkway sites and concessionaires to close when the federal government shut down Oct. 1.
Radcliff was planning for a Friday reopening of Mabry Mill, though she had yet to hear from the park service Thursday afternoon. Robert Peters, the general manager of the Peaks of Otter Lodge, said he was “very optimistic” the lodge will be open by this weekend.
Those two establishments moved toward opening after a parkway concessionaire in North Carolina prevailed in a dispute with the Department of Interior over the shutdown-induced closing of his lodge at Mount Pisgah . The federal government allowed the Pisgah Inn to reopen in return for the owner dropping a legal complaint.
Peters said he was told that the park service won’t encourage parkway concessionaires to reopen, but won’t stop them either.
Radcliff said the restaurant and gift shop at Mabry Mill may have lost about $65,000 during the 10 days it was closed, based on last year’s business traffic. The mill is open from May through October, and the short autumn season typically is busy.
Radcliff said her business “was going to be in a world of hurt if we didn’t reopen and we’ve got to do it now.”
“We’re definitely open through Oct. 31st, and we just want to get that word out there because so many families have lost that fall tradition of coming here,” Radcliff said.
The parkway was not closed to traffic when political gridlock shut down the government last week. But visitor centers, campgrounds, and other attractions along the roadway were shut down, including those run by private concessionaires like Radcliff.
“Nothing is done by the federal government except for sending us a bill for the water we use here,” she said. “I just couldn’t understand why we got shut down.”
U.S. Rep, Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, took the House floor last week to complain about the shutdown’s impact on parkway concessionaires and nearby businesses. Griffith said he and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who represents Mount Pisgah, had been working on a measure to allow parkway businesses that don’t receive direct federal funding to reopen.
“It was basically going to be a cease-and-desist order,” said Griffith, who also was waiting for word from the park service Thursday.
Griffith said he hopes people will make an effort to patronize parkway attractions this weekend, no matter how they feel about the shutdown.
“They had nothing to do with this,” Griffith said. “They need the public’s support.”
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