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Foodies and music fans could once again bask in sun or torchlight on the expansive patio of Doe Run when its restaurant opens again this summer.
Deborah Simmons can remember when Doe Run was the must-visit destination for food and fun in the region, when she enjoyed musical entertainment on the patio herself.
She wants to revive interest in the resort that straddles the Carroll-Patrick county line at Groundhog Mountain, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
She acknowledges that the facility needs a lot of renovation, but Simmons believes the 14,000 square feet for the restaurant and various other amenities will bustle with activity after reopening in a couple of months.
Plans call for country style and organic food, a full bar, different kinds of music, a spa, yoga studio and a store with the basics in this phase of development, complementing the lodging that remains at Doe Run.
Simmons gets good vibes from what will be her dream kitchen after the renovations and from the stage on the green lawn that’s perfect for mini-festivals.
“Positive thinking and good karma does matter in this life,” she said.
Reopening the Carroll area’s only outdoor pool will have to wait a year until Simmons gets the restaurant and the landscaping back into shape.
Once finished, the restaurant could seat 100 people just on the patio, serve her signature dishes like Irish pizza and employ 20, not including Simmons’ family members she will surround herself with.
(If you don’t know, an Irish pizza is a potato sliced in half, sauteed in olive oil with veggies and cheese on top, with a dipping sauce.)
Born in Galax, Simmons’ family moved and raised her in Sacramento, Calif., before coming back to live in Mount Airy, N.C., just in time for her to attend high school there.
This venture arises after Simmons has spent 30 years self-employed — 15 years as a caterer, 11 years providing home care and operating the Coffee Bean in Dobson, N.C.
She feels grateful for all these experiences.
About her time providing home care, Simmons says it “made me appreciate life and helped me appreciate a healthy life.”
Her time running the Coffee Bean allowed her to engage her community, providing a place to have poetry readings and book club meetings, to display art, to bring in different kinds of bands to play to packed houses and serve quality food.
“I love the contact with people. That’s what gives me energy, I believe.”
Her choice to serve organic options comes from what she learned from her family growing up. Her mother would serve lots of vegetables and beans and maybe eat meat twice a week.
The Coffee Bean brought in jazz, progressive bluegrass, reggae, indie rock and hip-hop musicians to perform, and Simmons now wants to do that at Doe Run.
“I think that would work up here,” she said. “I think people are thirsty for it. People are thirsty for some place they can gather...”
The relaunched restaurant could be “the hob-knob place” of the community within a year, she says.
She has visions of cooking in the kitchen along with son Jesse, one of her business partners. Her 85-year-old mother will also help out.
Simmons will spend a lot of time in the kitchen when the restaurant opens, offering service seven days a week. The only closures will be due to snow or fog that makes the parkway dangerous to drive on.
But all the work will be worth it to get the place humming again, she says.
“This was such a beautiful place when we used to come here,” Simmons said. “It can be like it used to be — it definitely can.”