23rd October, 2015 / From Bruce / 32 Comments

A word about October crowds from Bruce.

We know what October crowds are like…..each season, we get twice as busy in October. It is a challenge. Most of the visitor comments are good or better……occasionally we fall short. Usually, the chief complaint is our inability to handle the crowds. Or the inability to make room reservations because we are “always” full in October, Or, long waiting times in the restaurant. Generally less than .05% of the complaints are about the rooms, food or the staff / service.

Should we tell people not to come? Should we expand? How best to address the large crowds in October? How can we take care of the large crowds better? Those are the questions. I, personally, would value your input. Keep in mind we are in a National Park. There are limits to what is appropriate and necessary in the park, and there is the reality that any financial investment must have a chance of being recovered. Suffice to say, it is a challenge to balance preservation of the park against the visitor enjoyment of the park.

Please know that we are aware, and we are careful with our direction. My goal is to keep this place exactly what it has always been, only make it better every chance I can (based on what you tell us you want). I like the idea of a place you “can go back to” and it is as you remembered…not many of those left.

All that being said, let me apologize in advance if you had to wait for a table in the dining room…..also, if you can never get a room here in October, let me apologize for that too. We are doing all we can to give you a great memory and experience.



  • Rosalie Athens October 24, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Don’t expand. Don’t change anything. Maybe that’s not the right advice but we love Pisgah Inn just the way it is. Expanding will only bring more of us. We will get there when there is room for us. We’ll just have to wait. We must wait for all good things.

    Richard & Rosalie Athens

    (We were just there Sept. 21-23. We thought we could make suggestions but decided it’s just not necessary. Thank you for being there. Can’t wait to return.)


    • Bruce OConnell February 14, 2016 at 1:55 am

      Thanks for your input. I will only do what I and my staff feel is in the best interest of the visitors. Further, you may not know that we are obligated to do what the Park Service wants. The Park Service wants a dining room expansion so I think it may have to happen. I do not feel it is a bad idea. The only other expansion would be to make the observation deck bigger. Neither of these proposals would take away from the atmosphere. Thanks again, Bruce


    • Dean March 27, 2016 at 1:30 am

      Have been there many times! Always fabulous ! Got in on wait list last year and you just need to be glad your there! Who cares if there is a wait! It’s worth every minute and the food is fabulous …….so if you don’t like good views while waiting on good food and great times don’t go but if you love the fine things go! And enjoy every breath!


  • Lynn Lackey October 30, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Through the years, your visitors have greatly increased. Those who were once children, now have children and grandchildren. You have been chosen as a top destination….word has gotten out. The time has come to expand…rooms and dining room. There’s been a few times when I myself have been unable to get into the dining room due to the wait. Of course the same views are expected.


    • Chris Newcomb November 5, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      As a neighbor from Upper Hominy, I commute past the inn regularly, enjoy the store and restaurant with my wife, and have known the Inn as it is for 35 years. To expand out means cutting down the precious forest, and to go up (as in a high rise) would ruin the views. Geographic expansion will destroy the very thing that makes this place special.
      Alternatively, expanding your season by adding a month on either end would help. Yes, the weather can get sketchy sometimes, but it can be done if the Park Service is willing, even just keeping the 276 side open. Ski areas do it every winter.
      To stay at the Inn during a winter snow storm has always been one of my dreams, alas, we missed the dump back in the 90s.
      Keep up the good work and we can’t wait until you reopen in April.


      • Bruce OConnell February 14, 2016 at 1:58 am

        Thanks for your input….Keeping the Inn open past October 31 or prior to April 1 is problematic. I have tried it before. It has never been a good idea. Weather and road closures are a huge gamble. Also, the buildings were not really designed (insulated/heated) for real cold weather. I wish we could figure out a way to get visitors like you up here in the winter. It is really special.


  • Richard Doss October 31, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    I am a native of Calhoun county, Alabama. I have frequented Pisgah Inn since my first motorcycle trip on the blue ridge in 1972.

    I understand the nostalgia of returning to places that remind us of our youth and good times. But I also understand such things as major maintenance and economy of scale, as well as population growth. Our grandkids also deserve the opportunity to form their own nostalgia.

    I believe the answer to much of the issues you face is to build a “mirrow image ” of your facility, connected by a covered walkway between the old and new dining facilities. Plantings that mildly screen the old from the new would allow the oldsters their memories and the youngsters place to build their own– in more amenable rooms.

    This all may not make economic sense if idiot politicians are shutting you down to make a statement, however.


    • Bruce OConnell February 14, 2016 at 2:01 am

      Thanks for your input. Your idea sounds great, however, expanding our foot print is not in keeping with the “mission of the park.” We really cannot disturb any more “ground.” Not to mention how a project of that size would be financed. If I spent the money, it would be impossible to recoup the investment during a 10 year contract (which is all that is given). Thanks for the thoughts, Bruce


      • Jean (Burns) Harrigal June 3, 2016 at 2:21 am

        Bruce, You are exactly right! I’ve been coming up there from SC since the 70s, and love the way you have kept it the same except for a few changes. We still prefer the middle building, 2nd floor. Thank you for doing such a great job of keeping the atmosphere and the smells (!) the same. You have a special, special place, and we hope it won’t ever be changed much! We love those little heaters and the shelves! And we also love it when our neighbors on the private decks respect the quiet and the wildlife as much as we do!

        thank you and congratulations! So looking forward to our visit this month!


  • Tom November 3, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I have been a guest at the Inn many times over the last 10+ years, always at least one night in October. Never have I seen the situation at the dining room so mobbed that I couldn’t get a meal – until this year, twice, on Oct. 12 and Oct. 15. Staying at the Inn has always been a high point of my fall ride on the Parkway but, if overnight guests can’t get an evening meal at a reasonable hour, I don’t plan on staying there again.


    • Bruce OConnell February 14, 2016 at 2:03 am

      I am sorry you had a bad experience and I understand your aggravation with waiting for a table. We are working to figure out a solution to the crowds. Maybe a food truck? Remote dining outside? We are thinking out of the box for you and all the other guests that have to wait. It is not an easy fix…..


      • CFS October 17, 2016 at 1:44 am

        Hi Bruce-

        Prioritize the Inn guest first.
        A phone in order and delivery service for Inn guest.
        A special seating section for Inn guest.


  • Anita Poole November 9, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    We visited for lunch Oct. 30 and enjoyed being there very much. Yes, the crowd was large but the staff handled everything in a pleasant and efficient manner. The food was wonderful and the wait staff was excellent and did not hurry us, which is a big plus for us. You have made improvements and that’s a good thing, but if you do expand, some of the atmosphere may be lost. I like the comment from Rosalie “we must wait for all good things”.


  • Bob and Teresa Banker February 12, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Let supply and demand work itself out. The folks who don’t like the dining room wait won’t come back. Those who can’t get a room won’t be there. You can’t chase everyone away, you will always be full in October no matter how bad things are. People are taught that they deserve stuff such as a room in October along with a short wait for food at a window seat; don’t buckle under to the pressure and change anything. We visit you every year in June for our anniversary and enjoy every moment!


    • Bruce OConnell February 14, 2016 at 2:05 am

      Thanks for your comments. We hate it when any visitor has to wait a long time . Anything that can take away from their positive experience here is a area for improvement for us. We will keep trying to remedy the problem. Bruce.


  • Debbie Fisher March 5, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    The wait for seating is part of the magic of going to Pisgah to eat. If guests want to eat earlier, go earlier and give their name to the hostess. This is not a fast food restaurant. It is what it is and the staff handles things well..Sit a spell..relax and enjoy the wait! If one does not like the wait, someone else will be glad to eat in their place. We made our reservations for October in the Smokies last October. Due to having a yorkie, we are unable to stay overnight at Pisgah, but we stay nearby! Always, we lunch at least once at the Inn!


  • Charlotte March 28, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Advanced dinner reservations for folks staying overnight at the inn would be much appreciated in October. Otherwise we may have to forego eating in the dining room for our evening meal. Bruce,I do like the idea of a food truck with hot soup,stews,&sandwiches during the month of October. Thanks so much for considering this option to keep those of us who stay at the Inn 2-3 Times yearly from waiting 45minutes-90+min for a table at Dinner.


  • Shawn April 11, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Just returned from our first stay at Pisgah Inn. We made reservations for an October stay before we departed. Everything was spectacular, from the room, food, and employees.

    I would second the suggestion of having a preferred waiting list for inn guests for dining. Possibly ask at check-in if they will be dining and put them in a time slot? Not that it would be an exact and perfect system at all times, but it would assure guests that are staying at the inn an approximate dining time. I can’t think of anything more disappointing than to be a room guest and have to drive to Asheville just to eat. IMO, room guests should be the highest priority, and if I was stopping by just for dining, I would totally understand that policy.


  • John Little May 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Maybe it would be helpful for serving meals at peak times (or any time the weather permits) if you could have a grill on the new deck and serve hamburgers. hot dogs, brats, and anything that is good from a grill. Potato, macaroni salad and other items that are easily held for quick service could work as sides.

    Guess the insurance coverage or Nat’l Park policy might not allow that but I just thought I’d make the suggestion.


  • Jack Garland May 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Bruce we stayed one night May 8 at the inn and it was great (Bucket list) the staff also was A+. we watch the web cam every day maybe a second web cam showing the new deck or looking at Mt. pisgah or have your weather station on line to see the wind and temp. up there. we will be back again and the food is also A+

    thanks .


  • Mike June 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Do not change too much What so many love will not be loved anymore if things get to big and you lose that quaint feeling. Every since I moved to SC in 1994 we have been coming up there on a regular basis and expanding will make it more commercial, no matter how hard your try and keep the Quaint feel. I don’t mind a wait. For those who have issues with waits they will stop coming BUT I will bet you will still be packed. So few places left that are not commercialized and homogenized to the point of being dull.

    Its a tough call either way.

    Expansion means the potential of more money, making more people happy…BUT it will also make some NOT happy. Good luck either way, just hope it stays a beautiful place.

    And really the issue is how many more people now live close enough to visit(that will only increase)….I know I no longer go on the parkway on the weekends, too many people and its lost its charm. Weekdays are still decent however.


  • Alexander T. Hines August 26, 2016 at 3:46 am

    have stayed at the inn in spring and summer months, I finally made a reservation for October this year, I made it a year in advance!! I’m looking so forward to sitting on the deck and watching the colors change as the sun moves over the mountains. Stroll down to the restaurant for a great dinner and back to the room and hopefully see a meteor. I truly feel at peace and relaxed when I’m here, DON’T change a thing !! It would ruin what we love and what I believe you have worked to accomplish. People will just have to realize this is a truly unique inn and is limited in size and this makes your inn special!!


  • John Love September 20, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    We have been staying at Pisgah Inn for years. We never were able to get October reservations. That’s OK. We want the Inn to remain as it is, no expansion. The more you expand, the more like the holiday inn types you become, and that’s not what we want. Keep it small and do the best job you can and limit guest to what you can handle.


  • Darnell Dunaway October 9, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    How about a limited boxed lunch menu for those who are starving.


  • Terry Sloan October 15, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    For someone to go to a top tourist area in peak season and not expect a wait at peak dining times is ludicrous. And I cannot see the economics justifying an expansion for basically 1 month of the year. Something temporary is an excellent idea. Food truck with picnic table availability sounds great. For the hotel guests (who should get a dining guarantee) what about offering room service, for October only? Or setting aside a certain number of tables that would be for hotel guests only? Or developing a “Picnic Box” that could be ordered ahead of time and picked up at a designated time? (Fried chicken, salads, silk pie, whatever). This could work for anyone, but for hotel guests it could be ‘extra special’ – actual picnic basket, real dishes, etc. As it would be reserved, if it wasn’t returned complete and intact, the guest would be charged.

    The key is to accommodate the most people in the least disruptive way!


  • CFS October 17, 2016 at 1:41 am

    If the restaurant and general store were in a separate area from the Inn but still within walking distance (across the road maybe)…….that would eliminate the or cut down on the foot traffic and noise that shouldn’t disturb guest that wait all year to stay at the Inn and they deserve to get their moneys worth. I realize this suggestion requires money to purchase land and build and time.

    Perhaps limit the time that the public can visit the restaurant and the store in order to protect the privacy and enjoyment of the guest of the Inn. The many overlooks will still provide photo and viewing opportunities.


  • Claire Howard October 17, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Guest of the Inn should be the restaurant’s first priority……..

    A reserved seating area just for them.
    A reserved time slot just for them.
    A romm delivery service just for them.

    Guest of the Inn pay alot of money to stay there and some reserve and wait for their visit a year in advance.


  • Janice and William Lewis October 23, 2016 at 3:34 am

    Don’t change a thing!!!!! Maybe, in the restaurant you could just bump any hotel guests to the “top of the line” when they present their names so that they can be assured of service; the rest of us won’t mind because it’s worth the wait and the view is amazing!


  • Carol Freeman October 29, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    The guest of the Inn should take priority…..

    1-Have a designated seating section thats for guest of the Inn only.
    2-Have a time alloted for guest of the Inn’s meals.
    3-Have a meal delivery service for the guest of the Inn.


  • Rebecca Lynch November 1, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    I happen to live in WNC and make a trip to Pisgah Inn every October for a wonderful lunch and to marvel at the view. I know that there will be a crowd and a waiting time, so I either arrive early or later than the rush, or I am prepared with a book to enjoy while I wait. If the weather permits, I take a lovely hike on the path below the Inn. Don’t change a thing. If people have ever been to the Inn, they know the drill and should either be prepared for the worthwhile wait, or don’t go – there are plenty of us who will take their place in line!


    • Susan December 21, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      Rebecca, thank you for this feedback! You certainly have a great attitude about the October crowds and we are delighted to know how you manage to enjoy every bit of you annual visits!


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