FANCY GAP — Doe Run Restaurant Owner Dianna Nester has realized the venue’s natural charms are equal parts looking forward as far as Pilot Mountain and customers thinking back on their ties to the resort.
According to Nester, the idea came during various weddings staged at the resort when customers shared memories of the mountaintop haven. Noticing local ties (such as the restaurant’s locally renowned seafood banquet, which is no longer held) and the proliference of upscale restaurants in the immediate area, she decided to offer an “everyman’s” informal dining opportunity and reworked the menu. This is evident keeping the restaurant’s name the same.
“Everyone just calls it Doe Run Restaurant or that restaurant at Doe Run,” said Nester. “We closed in 2006 for remodeling and I just wanted to do weddings. Nothing else. It was like some days I would finish and think no and then I’d come back and see this beautiful kitchen we have here and I’d go right back to wanting to open a restaurant. I love to cook.”
Nester said the new menu features affordable plates and items including ribeye steak sandwiches, grilled chicken sandwiches and homemade desserts including a peanutbutter cake with peanutbutter icing, a brownie a la mode and rum cake. She said they plan on “changing it up” from time to time with different items which are seasonal or at a price where savings can be passed along to customers.
Plans are also in the works to offer unplugged music on Wednesdays with board games to, as Nester puts it, “just get people off the (cell) phone and talking to each other.” “A Harvest of Stories” featuring storyteller Vicky Towne has been slated for October 7 at 7 p.m. The event is open to the public at no charge.
“I think it will be fun and it’s not because cell phone service is not that good at the restaurant. It’ll get people talking and getting to know others,” Nester said. “We have started offering spaghetti once a week and got a lot of good comments. We’re getting more call-in orders, which I think is a good sign.”
Nester explained she believes cultural changes which fostered a so-called “fast food” approach severly hurt the archtypical local restaurant, which was a family’s home away from home. She said she tells waitresses at the restaurant the goal is a “Norm” experience. This is exemplified in the weekly greeting by other bar regulars to character Norm Peterson in the television show “Cheers.”
“I tell them (the restaurant had eight staffers) our customers deserve the Norm-feeling when they come in,” said Nester. “People like to be known. They like to share stories. They like to know and be known is what I’m getting at.” She said there was something special about that one certain restaurant where people just felt like it was home.
The restaurant will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. People may place call-in orders, book events or lodging or obtain more information at (276) 398-4099 or at doerunresort.com, doerunlodging.com, [email protected] The resort is located at Mile Post 189.5 in Fancy Gap.
The wedding venue and conference center is open for rehearsal dinnners, receptions, anniversaries, holidays and bridal/baby showers. The firm’s emphasis remains on weddings with in-house planners and catering. Overnight lodging can be arranged from the resort’s sister company, Doe Run Lodging, which offers cabins and villas in addition to the restaurant with its onsite bar. Participants may bring their own caterer.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on [email protected]