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Oft-photographed attraction on Blue Ridge Parkway reopens

Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:53:05 AM EST   Updated On: Oct 11 2013 08:59:31 PM EDT

Mabry Mills is federal property, but privately operated and has reopened.


A picturesque attraction on the Blue Ridge Parkway is open again. 

Mabry Mill, its restaurant and general store all reopened Friday morning.  They had been closed since the partial government shutdown began nearly two weeks ago.  The facility is on federal property but is operated by a private concessionaire.

Karen Radcliff, the business owner, said she had reached a verbal agreement with the Parkway to get back in business.

"We're going to take a large hit. If we hadn't have opened today we were talking bankruptcy," Radcliff said. "I'm not an attorney, but in my contract, I could not see where they really had the right to shut us down for a government shutdown."

By lunchtime Friday, business was booming again as tourists from as far away as South Carolina stopped for food and gifts.  Employees told WDBJ7 reporter Justin Ward they were glad to get back to work.

The parkway's Chief Ranger Steve Stinnett stationed in North Carolina says this is an unusual circumstance.

He's waiting on orders from Washington, D.C. and, right now, isn't forcing the mill to close.

The restaurant owner says she usually closes for the season at the end of October but may stay open longer.

The Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant in Bedford County is in the same situation.

Its general manager told WDBJ7 the corporate owner of the lodge and the National Park Service are in negotiations.

He's waiting on official word before reopening.